LITTLE ROCK — The state Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to grant a request from the Watson Chapel School District in Jefferson County for a five-year waiver from teacher certification requirements.


The district made the request under a 2015 law that allows a public school district to request any waivers that have been granted to a charter school to which the district has lost students.


Watson Chapel Superintendent Connie Hathorn told the board the district began the school year 14 teachers short.


“The high school is already in academic distress, and we cannot continue to go down this path,” he said.


Hathorn said 11 of the positions have since been filled, but the district continues to have openings for teachers who are certified to teach science, social studies and math.


He said the district has quality candidates who in time can receive certification in those areas, but currently substitute teachers are teaching the classes — and some substitutes have no more than a high school degree.


“If you look at the number of days, the number of hours we’re losing because we don’t have teachers, to me it’s a no-brainer,” Hathorn said.


Also Thursday, the board received an update from officials of the Dollarway School District on progress the district has made in getting two schools out of academic distress.


School officials said the schools, Dollarway High School and Robert F. Morehead Middle School, are working with stakeholder groups and review teams from the state Department of Education, restructuring their schedules to better serve students and reduce discipline issues, analyzing the results of teacher and students surveys to find ways to improve the school climates, among other things.