Federal special education law requires public school districts to employ a licensed specialist in school psychology (LSSP) to evaluate students for special education services.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, over 3,400 LSSPs are currently employed in the state of Texas, and many more are needed. With nearly 13 percent of all students in public school receiving some form of special education services, districts have a huge challenge to provide assessment, evaluation, and counseling services for identified students in their schools. Across the state, districts are experiencing a shortage of qualified LSSP candidates to fill vacancies, so many districts are hiring LSSP interns when all other options are exhausted.
Q: What is the definition of an LSSP intern?
A: An LSSP intern is an unlicensed person who can provide psychological services in the schools while the person is enrolled in an internship, practicum, or other site-based training in a school psychology program in a regionally accredited institution of higher education. 22 TAC §463.9 (c)
Q: Under what conditions can an LSSP intern be hired to work in a public school in Texas?
A: There are two types of LSSP internships that would allow the LSSP intern to be hired to work in a public school:
- LSSP internship for the purposes of LSSP licensure; or
- LSSP internship for the purposes of licensure as a psychologist.
LSSP interns can be hired in a school district if they:
- Hold a current LSSP trainee status letter stating they meet the requirements set forth by the training program and the rules for school psychologists as defined by the Texas Board of Examiners of Psychologists (TSBEP).
Fulfill all internship requirements under the supervision of an LSSP who has a minimum of three years of experience providing psychological services within the public school system without supervision. 22 TAC §465.2
- Apply techniques in assessment, intervention, behavior management, and consultation to children of all ages, needs, and populations in the public school setting.
- Document all activities and hours of the internship in combination with supervisor signatures in accordance with program and Board requirements.
Complete the LSSP internship in one year (202 days). [TSBEP Board Rule 465.38 (4)]
Q: If the LSSP intern is in training, can he/she provide the full range of services required in a school district?
A: According to rule 22 TAC §463.9 (h), unlicensed individuals may provide services under supervision in public schools if:
- the individual is enrolled in an internship, practicum, or other site-based training in a school psychology program in a regionally accredited institution of higher education; or
- the individual has completed an internship in a school psychology program in a regionally accredited institution of higher education, has an application for licensure as an LSSP pending before the TSBEP Board, and the TSBEP Board has not notified the applicant that he does not meet the training requirements for this licensure; or
- the individual has been issued a trainee status letter by the TSBEP Board.
Q: What is the benefit of hiring an LSSP intern?
Since LSSP interns can provide the full continuum of services (under supervision), districts can consider these individuals in their larger pool of LSSP candidates. Often, LSSP interns are more willing to work in smaller schools or districts, are typically eager for a challenging learning experience, and they may be more willing to take a slightly lower rate of pay until they obtain full licensure.
Q: What other considerations are needed when hiring an LSSP Intern?
A: When determining contract status and compensation for LSSP interns, it is important to note that an LSSP intern completes the same tasks and responsibilities as a fully licensed LSSP. The only difference is that the LSSP intern requires supervision until he/she completes the internship and becomes fully licensed. When considering employment for these individuals, districts should consider providing similar contract status and comparable pay to that of a fully licensed LSSP.
One other consideration is the length of duty schedule for an LSSP intern. By rule, LSSP interns may work no more than 202 days during the internship year. District may need to modify the duty schedule for an LSSP intern if required duty days are in excess of the 202 threshold.
For more information about the role of the LSSP or LSSP training requirements, you can access the Texas Association of School Psychologists or the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists.
Jennifer Barton is a compensation and HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Jennifer an email at email@example.com.
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