City district looking to Puerto Rico for new bilingual teachers

Apr 4, 2017

A team of three from the Buffalo Public School District will be traveling to Puerto Rico to recruit teachers. WBFO's Senior Reporter Eileen Buckley the visit will be a chance to find new bilingual teachers for city schools.     

Inside Lafayette International School in Buffalo where immigrant & refugee students speak many different languages.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

"Puerto Rico is experiencing a of teacher reductions based on closing schools,” said Jamie Warren, Associate Superintendent for the District's Human Resources Department.

For the past three years, over 100 schools a year have closed in Puerto Rico. Warren felt this would be a prime spot to recruit bilingual teachers as the District works to fill its gaps for teaching English Language Learners.

“Since we have such a large population of Puerto Rican residents here, we thought there would be connections. Some districts go as far as Spain to recruit teachers, but then there’s that transition and then having to get an H-1B Visa," Warren explained. "For the teachers, who are in Puerto Rico, it’s an easier transition."

Buffalo Public School District working to recruit bilingual teachers from Puerto Rico.
Credit Logo from the Buffalo Public Schools wesite

The District has conducted a media campaign in Puerto Rico. Facebook posts also help spread the word and they’ve already signed teachers up for interviews. Warren is currently trying to fill ten positions for the next school year.

“Our bilingual program goes all the way up to high school, so not only do we need bilingual classroom teachers at the elementary level, we need for the core subject – math, science, social studies – we need bilingual in those areas too,” Warren remarked. 

WBFO asked Warren how the district would assist a teacher from Puerto Rico to become New York State certified.

“They're  eligible for – it’s called a conditional initial – so once they are certified and have a teaching degree where they are located, they apply for an initial and because they can verify that they are certified where they come from, they get a ‘conditional initial’ and they have one-year to take the New York State exams, but as long as they are finger printed and carry a certificate from another state, then can get a conditional initial,” responded Warren. 

Warren said got the idea from the Dallas and Houston School Districts.  Warren has shared the model with Rochester School District, who will travel to Puerto Rico in May.