Orange County parents push for teacher retention as staff shortage continues

Parents say school district needs to do more

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ORLANDO, Fla. – More teachers are hanging up their hats in Orange County Public Schools, leaving several vacancies.

Disgruntled parents said the teacher shortage is directly impacting their children and they are urging the district to find a way to retain staff.

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Travis Parrish, a former fourth-grade teacher at Lake Silver Elementary, quit in November.

Parrish said the teacher retention rate is low because of the lack of respect from leadership, coupled with low pay.

“Leadership has to understand that the only way for the students’ behaviors and the students’ academic gains to improve is to invest in your staff and your teachers,” Parrish said.

His job is listed on the OCPS employment services website, along with several other listings across the district.

Lake Silver Elementary parents, like Donna Shore, said while the administration is searching for Parrish’s replacement, a school librarian will be filling in as a fourth-grade teacher. OCPS, however, said a substitute teacher has been assigned to the class, with the media specialist assisting in the subjects of English language arts and math.

“It’s hard when you see teachers leave, it’s hard. Teachers are amazing here,” Shore said. “To lose any more teachers would be really an even more detriment to a school that’s really struggling right now.”

Shore also said school library services would be cut, but OCPS said services were still available through an alternative scheule.

She has a kindergartener and a third-grader enrolled in the school. Shore said they both benefit from spending time in the school media center.

“It’s already an underperforming school and then to take such valuable time away from the kids is really hard as a parent to see,” Shore said.

A spokesperson for OCPS said the media center is not closing, but an alternative schedule (see below) has been created so students can visit and check out books.

Jeni Grieger has two children enrolled at Lake Silver Elementary.

“I think it’s just a symptom of a larger problem with our school that we can’t get and keep qualified staff here,” Grieger said.

She is urging both the district and the school to do what’s necessary to retain teachers.

“I’m concerned that my kids are missing out on what I know our school can be,” Grieger said.

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Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.