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Rehired Retiree And Teacher Licensure Law Fixes Gain Legislative Approval, Sent To Governor

Katherine Joyce | NCASA Executive Director

The House and Senate both approved on Monday Senate Bill 621, dealing mainly with public school testing reform, but also including time-sensitive clarifications to recent laws regarding rehired retirees in Senate Bill 399 and teacher licensure changes in Senate Bill 219.

The approved S621 was sent to Governor Roy Cooper, who has until Sept. 7 to determine whether to sign, veto, or allow the bill to become law without his signature. The NC Association of School Administrators (NCASA) has contacted the Governor’s Office to urge a quick signature on this important measure, which we are optimistic will soon become law.

S621 includes the clarifying changes that NCASA had requested to both S399, Rehire High-Need Teachers; and S219, Modify Teacher Licensure Requirements. A summary of the bill’s provisions was featured in the Aug. 23rd edition of NCASA’s In the Know newsletter and also posted on the NCASA website.

School leaders should note that NCASA’s previous summary of the bill failed to note an important caveat to one of the teacher licensure clarifications. The bill provides a one-year extension—through June 30, 2020—for certain individuals holding either an Initial Professional License (IPL), Lateral Entry (LE), or Residency License (RL), that was set to expire June 30, 2019. This extension applies only to licensees with an IPL, LE, or RL in elementary (K-6) or special education, so not all teachers holding one of these entry-level licenses with a 6/30/19 expiration date are covered.

Also, under S621, both IPL and RL teachers would be required to attempt their tests for a Continuing Professional License (CPL) in their first year. Although this requirement appears to create a new hurdle, Department of Public Instruction officials have indicated the bill sponsors assured them “there is no intent for the attempt in the first year to be a condition of passing by the end of the third year.” There also is no consequence for teachers who do not attempt their tests in year one. They simply will receive a letter from DPI outlining the requirement to pass their tests by year three.

In addition, the changes to the “rehire high-need teachers” portion of S621 includes a new deadline that LEAs should note. S621 calls for LEAs to notify the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) by Sept. 15 annually if they do not plan to rehire “high-need teachers.”

The bill also clarifies the definition of “high-need teachers” to include only individuals who:

  • Retired on or before Feb. 1, 2019, and are:
    • At least 65 with 5 years creditable service;
    • At least 60 with 25 years creditable service; or
    • Any age with at least 30 years of creditable service.
  • Are employed on an annual contract working 30 hours per week for 9 months or more as a teacher providing classroom instruction exclusively at a high-need school or schools. Enacted S399 earlier defined a high-need school as one that “either is or was a Title I school” or one having an overall D or F school performance grade at any point since July 1, 2017.

For additional updates on the status of S621, follow @NCASATweets on Twitter, or visit www.ncasa.net. More information on this legislation and other important public education bills and laws will be provided at NCASA’s School Law & Policy Symposium on Sept. 23-24 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. Registration for that event remains open, but a minimal number of seats are still available.

Katherine Joyce
kjoyce@ncasa.net
919-828-1426