Chinese program ends at Bethlehem Central School District

District can’t find a certified teacher for the course; parents upset at timing

— The Bethlehem Central School District’s Chinese language program is ending sooner than expected after the interview process for a new teacher was unsuccessful.

The Board of Education made its decision on Tuesday, July 1, following a recommendation from Superintendent Tom Douglas and Assistant Superintendent for Educational Programs Jody Monroe. District officials said in April it was becoming difficult to continue with the program because of low student enrollment and the challenge of finding a certified teacher with the appropriate visas to work in the United States.

Monroe said over the course of the interview process, 13 people applied for the position and six were interviewed. Some were then asked to come in to teach a class as an example of their teaching style. Out of all the candidates, one was offered the job but then declined.

“At this time, there are none we would recommend moving forward with,” said Monroe.

The program will continue to be phased out at the high school, with students taking online courses and a knowledgeable Mandarin speaker brought in to oversee the class and help out. The assistant can’t teach the class because the person is not certified.

Middle school students will be asked to switch languages. Spanish is preferable because the school offers an accelerated course. A free, two-week Spanish enrichment program is also being offered this month for those students. The district said it would also work with anyone who wished to take French, but that option might be harder on students.

“We want everyone to know this was not a student issue,” said Douglas, adding it was immigration law, state regulations and the applicant pool which made it tenuous to find a qualified teacher.

Many on the Board felt the situation was unfortunate that the decision had to be made, and they thanked Monroe and the Language Department for all their hard work in searching for a candidate.

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