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Teacher Certification: Part 3—Emergency Permits

Teacher calling on student in active classroom

An emergency permit may be used when a district cannot secure an appropriately certified and qualified individual to fill a vacant position or when an educator doesn’t have the appropriate credentials for the assignment.

It’s beneficial to use an emergency permit when an individual needs to pass a certification exam to meet an educator preparation program (EPP) admission requirement or when a certified educator needs to pass an exam to add an additional certification.

An emergency permit is issued by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) and is limited to one year of service with no renewal allowed. There are two exceptions to the one-year limit:

  • A Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) instructor must be reissued an emergency permit every year.
  • A teacher for visual impairments may renew a maximum of two years.

Title 19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §230.71 provides general provisions for emergency permits. An emergency permit is authorized for a specific assignment and is not the property of the individual for whom the permit was activated. If it is not used, TEA must be notified by email.

A certified teacher must give consent to be placed on an emergency permit. A teacher who refuses may not be terminated, nonrenewed, or otherwise retaliated against because of the refusal. However, the teacher’s refusal cannot impair a school district’s right to implement a reduction in force or other personnel actions in accordance with policy.


To be eligible for an emergency permit, the individual must meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree or have specific work experience
    • Career and technical education (CTE)—appropriate associate’s or more advanced degree for assignment and work experience in the area to be taught
    • Trade and industrial education—specified work experience in lieu of a bachelor’s degree
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be able to communicate and understand English sufficiently
  • Be of good moral character
  • Pass required fingerprint background check  

An individual who holds an intern or probationary certificate may be employed on an emergency permit if the permit is being issued in a certification area not available through the EPP that provided the intern or probationary certificate.

General Education Requirements

For a general education assignment (Early Childhood–Grade 6) an individual must have completed 12 semester hours in a combination of subjects related to the elementary curriculum, 12 semester hours in elementary education, or any combination of these areas of study. Subjects related to the elementary curriculum include, but are not limited to, art, English language arts, health, mathematics, music, physical education, reading, science, social studies, technology applications, or theater arts.

An emergency permit for a secondary general education assignment in Grades 7–12 may be activated for an individual who has completed 24 semester hours in the subject to be taught or 24 semester hours toward a composite teaching field appropriate for the assignment, including at least 12 in the subject to be taught.

Special Population Requirements

Following are the criteria for a bilingual education emergency permit:

  • A certified individual at the appropriate grade level must have completed six hours in the language of the bilingual education program or demonstrate proficiency in comprehension and expression in the language of the target population by a passing score on an SBEC approved examination.
  • An uncertified individual must meet general education requirements for the grade level assignment, be enrolled in an EPP for bilingual education, and must have completed 12 hours in language of target population, bilingual education, or a combination of the two; or demonstrate proficiency in comprehension and expression in language of the target population by a passing score on an SBEC-approved examination.

An English as a second language (ESL) assignment requires the individual be certified for the grade level to be taught and have six semester hours completed in an approved ESL program or one year of creditable teaching experience.

An individual assigned to a special education (Early Childhood–Grade 12) assignment must meet the following criteria:

  • An individual must be certified at the appropriate grade level and have completed six hours directly related to teaching children with special learning needs or have one year of creditable teaching experience.
  • A noncertified individual must meet grade level requirements and have completed 18 semester hours related to teaching children with special learning needs for an elementary assignment and have completed 24 semester hours related to teaching children with special learning needs for a secondary assignment.

Instructional & Support Personnel

An emergency permit may be activated for a school counselor, a school librarian, and an educational diagnostician.

An emergency permit for a school counselor requires the completion of 24 graduate-level hours with 12 hours in guidance and counseling, and two years of creditable teaching experience.

Qualifications for a school librarian emergency permit requires completion of 12 semester hours related to the basic competencies required of school librarians and two years of creditable teaching experience.

An educational diagnostician emergency permit requires the completion of 30 graduate-level hours in the field of education or related field, including six hours in tests and measurements with at least three hours emphasizing individual testing. Completion of six hours related to teaching individuals with special needs and two years of creditable teaching experience are required.


TEA may authorize a hardship emergency permit via an email notification if an individual doesn’t meet all permit requirements. The district must take the following steps when applying for a hardship permit:

  • Document local conditions requiring the assignment of an individual who doesn’t meet emergency permit requirements.
  • Verify the deficiencies don’t exceed 36 semester credit hours.
  • Verify the individual will be enrolled in the first available course on the certification plan or register for the next available administration of the appropriate content examination.


A superintendent or school district designee may activate an emergency permit when an appropriately certified or qualified individual cannot be secured for an assignment. Additional steps required to support this action include the following:

  • Document efforts taken to employ an appropriately certified individual.
  • Verify the district maintains a support system, has trained mentors, and will provide release time as needed to assist the individual serving on the emergency permit (not required for an individual who has one or more years of creditable teaching experience).
  • Verify the individual has been advised of the SBEC rules regarding permits and permit renewal requirements.

The district must verify an individual’s eligibility for an emergency permit and submit an online application to TEA within 45 instructional days of the assignment. The following needs to be submitted for all assignments except CTE:

  • A certification plan from an EPP verifying the individual meets program grade point average and a list of preparation requirements including student teaching/internship and/or assessment activities; or
  • Verification of registration for the next available and practicable administration of the appropriate content area examination; and
  • Payment of appropriate fee (payable by the school district).

For CTE assignments all the following information must be submitted in addition to completing the online application:

  • A copy of the individual’s statement of qualifications approved by the EPP verifying appropriate work experience
  • An acceptable license, registration, or certification by a state-authorized or nationally recognized agency
  • A certification plan from an EPP for the CTE assignment
  • Payment of the appropriate fee (payable by the school district)

Favorable Choice

An emergency permit provides a great deal of flexibility due to the number of certification areas covered and the ability to certify special program and instructional support personnel. When faced with hiring challenges, the use of an emergency permit serves as a viable option.

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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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