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Legislative Update: Certification and Licensing

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Several bills were passed in the 87th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature that have implications for certification and licensing.

This post summarizes actions taken relevant to certification and licensing in school districts. It includes topics such as State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) sanctions and complaint procedures, virtual instruction in educator preparation, virtual observation for field-based experiences, bilingual special education certificate, expediting certification for military spouses and veterans, regulation of nurse aides, deferred adjudication and licensing, and apprenticeship training report.

SBEC Sanctions and Complaint Procedures (HB 2519)

House Bill (HB) 2519 is the most extensive in the certification and licensing series consisting of several components, including the composition of the SBEC board, teacher notification of certificate or permit suspension, resignations not following statutory process, and consideration of mitigating factors.

Current law mandates the governor appoint at least four teachers, two school administrators, and one counselor to serve on the SBEC board. This bill requires at least two of the members employed by school districts serving on the board be from districts eligible for a small or mid-sized district allotment under Texas Education Code (TEC) §48.101.

This bill requires SBEC to promptly notify a teacher of suspension of the teacher’s certificate or permit. Teacher includes superintendent, principal, supervisor, classroom teacher, school counselor, paraprofessional, or another full-time professional employee who is required to hold a certificate. The notice must include the basis for the suspension and information on how the teacher may respond to the suspension.

School districts must promptly notify teachers on a probationary, term, or continuing contract of an SBEC complaint filed because the teacher resigned and failed, without good cause, to comply with the statutory process to resign. The notice must state the basis of the complaint, how the teacher may contact SBEC, and a reminder for the teacher to verify that SBEC has the teacher’s current address.

The bill doesn’t modify the penalty free resignation period of 45 days before the first day of instruction. However, SBEC is prohibited from suspending or revoking a teacher’s certification as a sanction if the teacher resigns at the end of a school year and gives notice to the board or designee at least 30 days before the first day of instruction. Good cause for contract abandonment is defined in Title 19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §249.17. This bill does not apply to abandonment of contract claims for the end of the 2020–2021 school year.

Finally, new provisions state SBEC must consider mitigating factors relevant to a teacher’s conduct before imposing sanctions on a probationary, term, or continuing contract teacher who didn’t follow statutory procedures. SBEC may consider alternative sanctions such as additional training. Mitigating factors are defined in 19 TAC §249.17. (Effective 9/1/2021)

Virtual Instruction in Educator Preparation Programs (SB 226)

Senate Bill (SB) 226 amends the educator preparation training requirement to include virtual learning and virtual instruction for any certificate requiring a bachelor’s degree. Training in the program must include best practices for assessing virtual students based on academic progress and developing virtual learning curriculum.

Additionally, the bill adds definitions of virtual instruction and virtual learning to Chapter 21 of TEC. Virtual instruction is defined as instructional activities delivered to students primarily over the Internet. Virtual learning is digital learning facilitated by virtual instruction. (Effective 9/1/2021)

Virtual Observation for Field-Based Experiences (SB 1590)

SB 1590 amends the requirement for SBEC to propose rules for any field-based experience or internship requirement to include a virtual observation option. These rules must include the option for three in-person observations or two in-person observations and two virtual observations equally rigorous to in-person observations. (Effective 6/18/2021)

Bilingual Special Education Certification (HB 2256)

HB 2256 requires SBEC to create a bilingual special education certificate. Eligibility requirements for this certificate includes instruction on the foundations of special education that is bilingual, multicultural, and second language, and training on providing individualized education programs for emerging bilingual students with disabilities. The training also must cover assessing emerging bilingual students, recognizing students’ needs in dual-language and bilingual settings, teaching fundamental academic skills to emerging bilingual students, and creating partnerships with families.

A certification candidate must pass the bilingual special education certificate exam and satisfy any other SBEC-prescribed requirements. SBEC will propose examination rules and requirements and standards for approval and renewal of the bilingual special education certificate. (Effective 9/1/2021)

Expediting Certification and Licensing Processes (HB 139)

HB 139 amends provisions related to certification of out-of-state educators. SBEC is authorized to include military service members, spouses, and veterans in rules about exceptions for out-of-state certification examinations. Rules for expediting military spouse out-of-state certification must include veterans. Additionally, a permanent change of station order and a military identification card may be used for residency documentation purposes.

The SBEC website must include a notice describing provisions about how a military service member, spouse, or veteran can obtain an out-of-state certificate.

The bill amends the Texas Occupation Code (TOC) to authorize state agencies to provide rules about receiving credit for training, education, and experience for military spouses and veterans to meet licensing requirements. State agencies must adopt rules about required documentation for a military spouse to document residency, if required. The agency must allow the permanent change of station order to establish residency.

Additionally, the bill adds definitions of active duty, armed forces of the United States, military service member, military spouse, and military veteran to the TEC section related to certification for educators outside of the state. The TOC will be amended to include space force in the definition of armed forces of the United States. (Effective 9/1/2021)

Regulation of Nurse Aides (SB 1103)

SB 1103 amends provisions related to the licensure of nurse aides to clarify that the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is the licensing authority. Nurse aide applicants must register with the HHSC and complete a training program approved by HHSC. The commissioner of the HHSC will create rules for the certification of registration and the regulation of nurse aides. (Effective 9/1/2021)

Deferred Adjudication and Licensing (HB 757)

HB 757 amends the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure provision related to the dismissal and discharge of a defendant on deferred adjudication community supervision. Specifically, it prohibits denying, suspending, or revoking the professional or occupational license or certificate of a qualified individual if the judge discharges the defendant after the deferred adjudication time period. The provision is subject to existing law and allows consideration of the offense if there is a conviction of a subsequent offense, if the person is an applicant or holds a license to work in childcare, or if the person holds a license to provide mental health or medical services for sex offenders.

The bill also adds additional circumstances for consideration of the offense. If the defendant is on deferred adjudication community supervision for certain offenses a licensing agency may consider the offense when issuing, renewing, denying, or revoking a license or certificate.

The agency may also consider an offense if the profession involves direct contact with children in the normal course of duties or if the defendant holds or is applying for a license or certificate as a law enforcement officer. (Effective 9/1/2021)

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Karen Dooley
Karen Dooley
HR Services Assistant Director

Karen Dooley joined HR Services in 2016. She provides oversight to a team of consultants providing staffing services, HR reviews, and other projects. She provides training and assists school districts with their HR-related needs. Dooley is a seasoned administrator with more than 17 years of HR experience in Central Texas districts as a coordinator, director, and assistant superintendent. She also worked as an assistant principal, counselor, and teacher, and holds a superintendent certificate.

Dooley received her master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University and her bachelor’s degree from Texas State University.

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