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New Hanover County Schools Partners with Vocational Rehabilitation Services to Strengthen Inclusive Hiring and Retention across the District


 
 
New Hanover County Schools is committed to being an inclusive and supportive school district for all students, educators, and staff. The district values equitable representation and equal opportunities for all who are seeking employment. NHCS has partnered with Vocational Rehabilitation Services (a unit of the NC Department of Health and Human Services) to ensure inclusive hiring for all people who seek employment with the district. Through this partnership, NHCS aims to help people obtain employment as well as train students with disabilities so that they are prepared and able to apply for positions within the district and elsewhere. 
 
New Hanover County Board of Education Leadership on Inclusive Hiring
“We want to ensure that we are equitable across the board for all persons. Our students with disabilities have options. We are committed to ensuring they have access, support, and opportunity to pursue whatever post-graduate path they choose. NHCS is developing workers, providing internships, and then providing job opportunities,” stated Board Chair Estep.
 
Ms. Estep has been working with the staff from NHCS Human Resources, Special Education, Public Relations, and Voc Rehab on a committee to strengthen and improve inclusive hiring and retention in the district. The committee’s work to eliminate artificial barriers and promote a culture that is inclusive and positive for hiring persons with disabilities in a wide range of job openings within the district starts with our students. Through the partnership with Voc Rehab and Education Data Systems Inc., the district is better suited to equip its Special Education students with the tools, experience, and criteria to enter the workforce - not only with New Hanover County Schools but also with other agencies and companies. 
 
Voc Rehab has provided training and workshops for school employees and personnel. NHCS administrators, Child Nutrition supervisors, and Maintenance Department supervisors have attended Voc Rehab’s Windmills Training. Voc Rehab Counselor Scott Crouch and his team have provided the training that is designed to sensitize hiring agents and supervisors to attitudes and behaviors while putting employers at ease. 
 
NHCS/Voc Rehab Application Days
The Human Resources Division and Voc Rehab recently held an Application Day to assist potential employees. Application Day is designed to give candidates from Voc Rehab insight into the hiring practices of NHCS. Attendees were also assisted by Human Resources staff with the application process, including tips on how to navigate the online application system from drafting cover letters to preparing references. They were able to apply for current vacant positions on the spot. 
 
 Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services Julie Askew explained, “NHCS has remained committed to fulfilling our mission of providing differentiated supports to students with special needs that lead to successful transitions into adult life.  We are beyond excited to share our story on expanding these supports into adult life as a model of hiring and retaining employees with special needs. Our collaborative partnership with Vocational Rehabilitation is equipping our administrators with skills to break down barriers, develop needed accommodations, and support job coaching.  We hope our inclusive hiring culture can become a model for our community!”
 
Upcoming Events:
  • Septemeber 10, 2019, Presentation on Inclusive Hiring at NHC Board of Education meeting, 5:30 p.m., Board Center, 1805 S. 13th Street, Wilmington, NC
  • September 26, 2019, March 2020 and July 2020: NHCS Application Days at Voc Rehab
  • September 2019: Employment Marketing Skills Day
  • October 23-24, 2019: NHCS Transition Fair
  • October 2019 NHCS Diversity Matters Show on Inclusive Hiring
  • Fall, Spring, Summer: ongoing Inclusive Hiring Workshops for administrators and supervisors
 
For more information about the NHCS Inclusive Hiring Program, please contact Deb Trafton, Talent Management Supervisor, at debora.trafton@nhcs.net or (910) 254-4272. https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/dvrs/vr-local-offices