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Visa Trouble May Force 6 Topeka Teachers To Leave Kansas

Some foreign-born teachers working in Topeka may have to return to their home countries.

Topeka's school district started recruiting teachers from overseas eight years ago; the district was struggling to fill positions in special education, secondary math and science.

The U.S. Department of Labor rejected the permanent residency applications of six of those Topeka teachers. The department rejected the argument that the district encountered a shortage of qualified teachers willing to take the positions.

"I'm still looking for three special education teachers for this year," said Carla Nolan, head of human resources for the Topeka district. "Special education is a very demanding teaching position."

The district is appealing the decision. If the Department of Labor denies it, the teachers will have to leave.

Wichita schools have faced similar problems. Shannon Krysl with Wichita Public Schools says it had to hire a recruiter for the first time to find special education teachers. The district is still 15 special ed teachers short.

Topeka school board president Janel Johnson says the situation is "very frustrating" and noted it affects teachers' personal lives.