Program Quality Assurance Services
Compliance and Monitoring
Notification of Options for Appropriately Qualified Teachers
January 6, 2017
Dear Executive Directors and Education Directors of Approved Special Education Schools and Other Interested Parties:
As you are aware, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education ("ESE") requires that all special education and general education teachers working in approved private special education schools have a valid license or an approved waiver for the grade level and subject area they are teaching. The intent of this letter is to provide you with clarification on the use of substitute teachers in your schools and to update you on two options for helping teachers gain credit toward licensure.
At times, you might need to employ long-term substitute teachers in your school, so we are writing to clarify the acceptable length of service for educators in this role. A substitute teacher is an educator, who is employed, on a temporary basis, for less than 90 consecutive school days in the same role, to take the place of a regularly employed educator who is absent. Any educator who is employed on a temporary basis for more than 90 consecutive school days in the same role must either be licensed for the role or working under a hardship waiver.
Therefore, if a program has an existing teacher out on an extended leave or a vacancy for a teacher position, it may use a substitute teacher for up to 90 consecutive school days in a given assignment. In addition, a program may use a different substitute teacher for another 90 consecutive school days. In this instance, you are not required to submit a Notification of Substantial Changes ("Form 1") to the Office of Approved Special Education Schools (OASES). Educators in your school must either be licensed, on a waiver, or functioning as substitute teachers. However, you must submit a Form 1 if an educator in your school does not fit into any of those three categories.
We also want to provide you with updated information on two ways in which your teachers can gain credits toward licensure. First, the Massachusetts Licensure Academy is about to begin its next semester in late January and is available for teachers who are looking to obtain licensure in Moderate Disabilities, or to add a Moderate Disabilities license to their General Education license. While the deadline for application is listed as January 1, 2017, we are pleased to extend this deadline until January 18, 2017 for teachers from your schools. The academy will be repeated again in the fall.
For specific information about the Massachusetts Licensure Academy, please refer to Massachusetts Licensure Academy webpage. If you have specific questions, you may contact Martha Daigle from the Department at 781-338-3366.
Second, the Massachusetts Focus Academy offers ten classes of which the participant may earn points towards various competencies to be applied towards their Special Education or General Education license. For specific information, please refer to Massachusetts Focus Academy (MFA) Courses webpage. If you have any specific questions, you may contact Tricia Federico from the Department at 781-338-3502.
Finally, please be aware that ESE has commissioned a pilot group to investigate alternate routes to licensure for teachers. Stakeholders from a wide variety of school settings are participating, including some representatives from approved private special education schools.
We know that you and your staff continue to work hard to meet the diverse needs of the students served in your schools and we hope that some of the options described above are useful resources in order to assist in retaining appropriately qualified teachers.
Nina M. Marchese, M.Ed., Director
Office of Approved Special Education Schools
Russell Johnston, PhD, Senior Associate Commissioner
Center for District Support
Brian Devine, Director, Office of Educator Licensure
Martha Daigle, Family Engagement Coordinator, Office of Special Education Planning & Policy (SEPP)
Tricia Federico, Business Management Specialist, Center for District Support