‘A major problem’: Teacher vacancies up 80% in Brevard School District since 2018

Teachers aren’t sticking around in Brevard County, according to a new audit the school board is using to re-vamp policies.

Some veteran teachers are worried about public education as a whole in Florida, saying the problem won’t be fixed overnight.

At Kennedy Middle School, FOX 35 confirmed the current principal Travis Diesel told families he’s leaving the profession at the end of May, and he isn’t alone according to the district’s new report.

"Veteran teachers are just not valued," said Virginia Hamilton. She left Brevard Public Schools in May after teaching there for 31 years.

Months later, she still hears from other teachers struggling to stick around.

"A lot of it is the pay," she added. You know, DeSantis just raised pay for all these new grads that are now making as much as my friends that have been teaching 15, 16 years."

The school board recently re-vamped the cell phone and dress code policies because they’re worried discipline issues are pushing people away.

"We had a situation where 42 teachers and eight teachers resigned right in that November window, so what ended up happening is we said we have a major problem," said Matt Susin who represents District 4 and is the chair of the school board.

The district’s new audit shows an 80% increase in teacher vacancies since 2018, and after five years -- only 48 percent stay in the district.

"What is the number one issue? I promise you, the majority of those individuals will say discipline was out of control," Susin said.

"You’re hearing about all the discipline issues, but from friends – I just got a text saying, another teacher is leaving today just announced – because the values do not line up with the school board and the state," Hamilton said.

This veteran says she loved the profession but wouldn’t come back now and won’t be surprised if more educators leave in the future.

"I know of a substitute that is teaching now, and they have to rely on a peer to help them every day get through the curriculum. That’s sad," Hamilton said. "That is sad, and more and more people are not going into education and are not getting certified to be teachers. This is a mess."

Susin says he plans to canvass door to door in Brevard County trying to recruit teachers. He believes there are many people in the community who could step in and fill these positions before the new school year. He’s also asking parents to get involved to curb discipline concerns and make sure schools can be used for learning.