Huntsville City Schools HR records show over 250 employees have resigned this year

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 10:26 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Teachers are leaving the job in record numbers: that is straight from the mouth of a Huntsville City Schools board member.

After her comment last week, WAFF requested the HR reports showing the number of employee resignations. We got our hands on them Wednesday.

There are over 600 pages that list resignations and retirements. We went through and counted a total of 257 employee resignations since January and 66 retirements.

That includes bus drivers, and cafeteria workers, but mostly teachers. What these records don’t say, is why these teachers are leaving.

The school board member and a teacher WAFF’s Caroline Klapp spoke with, believe student behavior is to blame for a lot of them.

”I talked her off the ledge last week, but she just sent me an email while I’m sitting here. It says, ‘Ms. Watkins, thank you for your help but I cant do it anymore,” Michelle Watkins said.

Huntsville City Schools board of education member Michelle Watkins says there are many others who feel the same way.

“If we hide behind the curtain and say nothing’s wrong. Ok, then people think nothing’s wrong. But there’s something wrong when your teachers are leaving your district and they’re calling telling you that their leaving for behavioral problems,” Watkins said.

WAFF 48 also spoke with a Huntsville City Schools teacher, who did not want to be identified. They say student behavioral issues have become a nightmare in their classroom.

“On a regular basis, we are cussed out by students. On a regular basis, there are teachers that have objects thrown at them in class,” they said.

The teacher says filing reports and calling parents isn’t fixing the issue, adding it’s gotten so out of hand they’re contemplating leaving too.

“There are days that I leave in tears fairly often. I feel like I am not making a difference. And if I could find something else to do, there are days that I would gladly walk away from it completely, and this has been my life’s calling,” the teacher said.

William Tunnell with the Alabama Education Association says 257 teacher resignations in a year is above average turnover in this size district.

“Without question, Huntsville is a bit of an anomaly,” Tunnell said.

Tunnell says behavior is an issue, but being overworked is another.

“We’re encouraging the school system to take some actions to determine why are all these people leaving, listen to them, talk to them. Is anyone with the school district engaging with them? If not, why? Because it’s high turnover, there’s no two ways about it,” he said.

“Teachers are humans and there comes that moment at which a teacher’s health, mental health, just their entire being can only take so much,” the teacher said.

Huntsville City Schools sent us a statement. It reads, “Huntsville City Schools values the hard work, commitment, and service to students exhibited by HCS employees each and every day. While the district recognizes the past year and a half has presented numerous challenges, HCS remains committed to promoting a high-quality educational environment for students, teachers, and employees to be successful personally, academically, and professionally.”

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