Bill extending emergency certifications becomes law

Mike Seals - May 21, 2020 10:01 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s schools will soon have more teaching applicants thanks to a bill signed Thursday. The State Board of Education approved emergency rules in March to allow emergency teaching certificates to be renewed for up to three years, and the governor approved the rules in April. However, the legislature felt more must be done for Oklahoma schools, so Senate Bill 1115 removes the emergency certification renewal cap all together beginning November 1.

Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, authored the bill to help address the state’s teacher shortage and shrink class sizes.

“In order to provide the best education to our students, we desperately need more teachers. So many schools have no other applicants besides these individuals so when their two years is up, the school is forced to leave the position open and increase class sizes,” Sharp said.  “There are many reasons that keep people from becoming fully certified and that’s their choice, but until we have more certified teachers seeking positions, we can’t continue to punish the schools by forcing them to let those with alternative certification go.  If they have a passion for teaching, we need to keep them in the classroom.”

Anyone who has been employed by a school district for at least two years can have their emergency teaching certificate renewed if the following criteria are met:

  • They have not successfully completed the competency exams.
  • They submit a portfolio of their work to the State Board of Education, including progress toward standard certification.
  • The local school district’s superintendent proves the district is unable to hire a teacher with a standard certificate to the State Board of Education.

Rep. Danny Sterling, R-Tecumseh, is the House author of SB 1115.

“Oklahoma has been dealing with a teacher shortage for years, and I hope this legislation will help meet a need,” Sterling said. “Allowing school boards to have the option of rehiring emergency certified teachers who have done well in their classrooms in lieu of qualified certified teachers will expand the hiring pool and bring more stability to our classrooms.”

SB 1115 exempts emergency certified teachers from protection under the Teacher Due Process Act of 1990.

 

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