‘All hands on deck’ as Indiana ends emergency permits for special education teachers

The Indiana State Board of Education voted Wednesday to end the use of emergency permits for special education teachers next school year. The decision was a final step in the state’s plan to meet federal special education law that he has violated for years by allowing low-qualified educators to teach students with disabilities.

The board approved a new temporary special education teaching license designed to help fill the void. To qualify for the new credential, educators must have a bachelor’s degree and enroll in an approved alternative training program. It will have a maximum duration of three years.

Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner said a special education teacher shortage is affecting school districts across the state and encouraged colleges to help train educators.

“I’m sure we’d all love any university to support each other and be part of the solution,” Jenner said. “We need all hands on deck on this.”

Indiana schools often struggle to hire enough fully licensed special education teachers because it is a difficult job that requires specialized training and typically offers a salary similar to other teaching positions. AN WFYI research last fall found that schools are increasingly relying on emergency furloughs for staff in special education classrooms. Indiana issued 43 percent more special education emergency teaching permits in 2019-20 than it did four years earlier, rising to more than 1,200 from about 850 in 2016-17.

Without emergency furloughs, some administrators worry the special education teacher shortage could get even worse. If schools can’t hire enough special educators, they warn, it could decrease the number of teachers in classrooms and increase caseloads for qualified special educators.

The Indiana Department of Education hopes to mitigate that problem by increasing the number of educators seeking special education licensing. It has partnered with the University of Indianapolis Learning Leadership Center of Excellence to launch a program to help special education teachers become licensed or enter a program that qualifies them for a temporary permit under new state requirements. .

The program is paid for with federal special education funds and pandemic relief, said state special education director Nancy Holsapple. It is expected to continue until 2024.

More than 400 people are participating in the new program, known as Indiana Special Education Assisted Leave, according to Holsapple.

Licensed teachers who wish to add a special education license to their credentials can obtain free training at participating universities, and scholarships are available for individuals with bachelor’s degrees who wish to become educators through transition programs to teach, as well as for current students in preparation for special education teachers. programs

State board member Erika Dilosa, who serves as director of special education for several charter schools in Gary, described the program and tuition assistance as “much needed.”

The board approved two new transition to teaching programs to prepare special educators. are now 12 programs that offer this training. Information about Indiana’s special education assisted licensing program is available here.

Contact WFYI Education Reporter Dylan Peers McCoy at dmccoy@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @dylanpmccoy.

Copyright 2022 WFYI Public Radio. To see more, visit WFYI Public Radio. 'All hands on deck' as Indiana ends emergency permits for special education teachers 81 utm

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