September 2016, Vol. 1

HR Extras

Certification changes effective August 28, 2016

District should take note of several State Board for Educator Certification rule actions, which are summarized below, that became effective August 28, 2016.

The first, found in 19 TAC Chapter 230, sets the rules to implement provisions of SB 2205, which imposes a limit of attempts on any certification examination. After September 1, 2015, an individual may retake the test up to four times and SBEC may approve an additional attempt based on demonstration of good cause. Details regarding good cause are outlined in the rules. In order to take the exam using the waiver, an individual must file timely with TEA and pay a non-refundable fee of $160.00. TEA offers a useful FAQ regarding this action: Educator Certification Examination Retake Limit FAQs.

Amendments to 19 TAC Chapter 232 address hardship requests for individuals who failed to renew their certificate by its due date.  The criteria for a hardship exemption includes a catastrophic illness or injury of the educator or an immediate family member and military service of the educator. The amendments also added an instructional course on the use of automated external defibrillator (AED) and suicide prevention training to the list of courses that may be taken for continuing education credits. 

Providers of continuing professional education (CPE) should be aware that Chapter 232 now requires retention of activity records for a period of seven years after the activity is completed. The record must include a list of attendees, the date and content of the activity, and the number of clock-hours.

Rules specific to the military community have been consolidated into Chapter 234, which will help streamline future rulemaking. This new chapter implements recent legislation that allows military service members to substitute experience in a particular trade for the licensure requirement and waives the licensing and application fees paid to the state for military service members, spouses, and veterans.

The principal standards in Chapter 241 were completely revised to align with the Commissioner of Education’s principal appraisal standards. The focus of the new standards include school culture, leading learning, human capital, executive leadership, strategic operations, and ethics, equity, and diversity. Principal preparation programs and state certification examinations will need to incorporate these standards.

New TRS-Care surcharge in effect

Beginning Sept. 1, 2016, districts that hire retirees will find it easier to determine the amount of the required health insurance surcharge. The TRS-Care surcharge is now a single, uniformly applied rate of $535 a month. The amount reflects the average surcharge paid by approximately 4,000 retirees. This change was adopted as a resolution by the TRS Board in February. Previously, districts were required to pay a variable rate determined by the plan in which the retiree had enrolled.

Additional information regarding the processing of TRS surcharges is addressed in the April 2016 Q&A—How do we process TRS surcharge deduction if we require our retire-rehires to assume the cost?