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'I had no choice': Teacher with 17 years experience moves to NY after CMS didn't hire him

Juan Rivera has been teaching for 17 years, including some time in Charlotte. Despite that experience and a teacher shortage, CMS didn't offer him a job.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Like many school districts nationwide, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is facing a teacher shortage. Over 500 teachers have left CMS since Aug. 1, and at least 93 more pending retirements or resignations are planned through the end of 2021.

As hard as it seems to be to keep teachers, some say it's just as hard to get hired. Juan Rivera said he experienced it firsthand when the district didn't even call him back about a job he applied for. 

"I wanted to stay there," Rivera said, referring to Charlotte. "I didn't want to come back to New York but I had no choice."

Rivera, who has been teaching for 17 years, including with CMS, felt it would be easy to get a job based on his credentials. 

"I worked at Harding High School for six years and then I moved to the Outer Banks [of North Carolina]," Rivera said. 

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Rivera has paperwork he said makes him eligible to return to CMS. He told WCNC Charlotte he applied for 23 English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. He said he had two interviews. Rivera said one of the positions was canceled and he never received a callback or any notice about the other. 

"I was thinking, 'What's happening here?'" Rivera said. "There's a teacher shortage, I'm a certified teacher and they haven't called me."

See a list of job openings at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools

CMS said school leadership screens applications and looks for qualifications like specific licensure and relevant experience, which may not always be a match, or could rank lower than other candidates. The district said it encourages people to apply for multiple positions in which they may be qualified.

Rivera said multiple applications didn't help him. 

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"For some schools, I applied to, the position is still open," he said. 

Rivera eventually had to go wherever he could get employment. He's relocated to New York. 

"I needed to do something," he said. "So I applied in New York and they called me right away, within a week."

That's the kind of speed he was hoping for with CMS. 

"I was eligible," he said. "I don't know what happened."

Parents report late CMS school buses 

Charlotte is not just facing a shortage of teachers.

Extending back to the start of the school year, parents of CMS students have expressed frustration to WCNC Charlotte over transportation troubles.

On Monday, a parent reached out to WCNC Charlotte saying they received a message that the buses were running "extremely late." 

J.T. Williams said she has a medical issue that prevents her from taking her daughter to school when the bus is late, and unless she can find someone else to drive her, her daughter has to stand at the bus stop waiting for however long it takes. Williams said the bus has previously been upwards of an hour late. 

"One morning I thought, 'Well, she's just not going to make it to school at all,'" Samanta Smith, another parent of a CMS student, told WCNC Charlotte. "Who we would normally depend on to give her a ride, they were not available."

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