CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - New teachers are getting frustrated by how long it is taking to get a teacher license in North Carolina. Teachers are reporting it takes about six months to get a license approved.
"I think we need to work very quickly to make sure this process doesn't take the time that it is taking," Senator Joyce Waddell said.
Waddell was in a meeting in January when she heard the reasons for the delay. Leaders from the NC Department of Public Instruction told lawmakers the long process includes technical challenges, communication problems and weak reporting capabilities of the online application system. Waddell is concerned this delay could cause North Carolina to lose out on recruiting and retaining great teachers.
"Other states will start recruiting your best. Our science, our math, special education - those are critical positions," Waddell said.
Erlene Lyde is a Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) teacher and president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators (CMAE). She says she has never seen it take this long to get teacher paperwork processed in North Carolina before.
"These people have moved here and they are coming with the intention of a certain amount of pay and they get them into the system and then they find out - oh, the paperwork is held up in Raleigh," Lyde said.
School districts hire the new teachers as substitutes with lower pay until their license is approved by the state. Once that happens, their salary increases. Lyde says some teachers don't wait until that happens.
"They're in a Catch 22 trying to find housing. Trying to find somewhere else to live and then understanding that oops - they are not getting the money they were promised. Generally they say goodbye to this - this is ridiculous," Lyde said.
The state is now aware of this and tell lawmakers the goal is to process teacher licenses in six to eight weeks instead of six months. Waddell says the state can do better.
"Why can't you do this in four weeks? Why can't you do it through another process? You know we have all this automation now. We are doing a lot of things electronically. Why shouldn't we speed up the process by coming up with new methods," Waddell said.
Waddell also believes these problems could be a result of operator error.
"We need to hire more people. We need to switch staff that's already there," Waddell said.
Waddell says she will continue to monitor this situation and come up with other measures to help speed up the process.