TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Six teachers from the Philippines who work in Topeka are waiting for a decision from federal officials on their residency permits that would allow them to continue working in Kansas.
The Topeka school district began recruiting teachers overseas in 2005, focusing on math, science and special education. The district currently has 30 teachers from abroad, mainly from the Philippines.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the U.S. Department of Labor blocked the district’s applications for permanent residency for six teachers last summer. Those teachers were among a group that needed approval of longer-term residency permission than their existing visas allowed.
The department said the district had not proven there was a shortage of qualified teachers who are U.S. citizens who were willing or interested in filling the vacancies in the northeast Kansas district.
State Department of Education data indicate that finding qualified teachers for those subject areas are among the toughest to fill in Kansas. Topeka officials appealed the federal ruling.
Carla Nolan, head of human resources for the district, said school officials are waiting for a response, but that the applications that were rejected were similar to the one that was approved.
It also has submitted applications on behalf of another 13 international teachers, and eight have been approved. Nolan said that was an encouraging sign for the district.
“It’s been a huge relief,” Nolan said. “They’re very happy, we’re very happy.”
The district hasn’t received word on the status of the other five applications, four of which are being audited by federal officials, she said.
Those teachers have more steps before they are allowed to stay in the U.S. permanently. Nolan said it could be years before the residency questions were resolved.
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