Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said the vacant positions must get filled to help the district comply with education law.
"We're looking for new teachers because they are a specialized credential," he said. "It shouldn't shock anyone because there's a statewide shortage of special education teachers."
In May, school board members approved a plan to increase kindergarten through third-grade class sizes to save $15 million through 2013. A subsequent budget in June laid off 66 teachers, and district officials continue to project a multimillion-dollar deficit.
Laid-off teachers have the first shot at filling vacant positions, but the district can turn elsewhere when there are no appropriate credentials in that applicant pool.
Representatives of the Glendale Teachers Assn. were unaware the district had posted the job vacancies, union President Tami Carlson said.
"If they're hiring, it's because there's a need for that position," she said.
Some teachers have accused the district of misplaced priorities, renewing costly programs and using restricted funds to buy real estate rather than free up other funds to rehire the 66 laid-off teachers.
But "in this case, they have to have teachers," Carlson said.
Credentials for special education teachers require more time and experience, officials said. They typically re-enroll in classes throughout their career as disability diagnosis, treatment and pedagogy evolves.
All of it contributes to a constant demand for special education teachers in Glendale and elsewhere, Sheehan said.
"Special education teachers are required to have much more for their credentials, especially when you start dealing with high-school-age students, because … they have to have competency in a subject matter, plus all the additional schooling on working with kids with special needs," he said.