New Educator Licensure Waiver Process- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Educator Services

New Educator Licensure Waiver Process

To:Superintendents of Schools, Charter School Leaders, Executive Directors of Approved Special Education Private Schools, and Other Interested Parties
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D.
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Date:June 25, 2012



On December 8, 2011, the Worcester Superior Court (Judge Douglas Wilkins) issued a decision in Nordberg v. Mass. Department of Education requiring the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) to change its current computerized system of granting first year waivers of the educator licensure requirements upon request and certification by school superintendents. Under the educator licensure statute (G.L. c. 71, s. 38G) the commissioner may, upon request of a superintendent, grant a one-year exemption (waiver) from the requirement to employ a licensed educator when compliance with the licensure requirement "would in the opinion of the commissioner constitute a great hardship in securing teachers for that school district." The court held that the Department's current computerized waiver system is deficient because it does not obtain and evaluate all the necessary information from the superintendent, as the waiver is granted automatically based on the information provided.

On June 19, 2012, the court accepted the Department's plan regarding a new educator licensure waiver system. The information below provides an outline of the plan.


The current educator licensure waiver process will end on Thursday, June 28, 2012, at 5:00 p.m. If you need to apply for a waiver for the 2011-12 school year, you must do so by June 28th since work will begin after that on preparing ELAR for the new waiver system.

During the week of July 2, 2012, no educator licensure waivers for the 2012-13 school year can be requested via ELAR. However, requests for critical shortage waivers can still be submitted to Tricia Federico in the Office of Educator Policy, Preparation, and Leadership. During that week, Department staff and the Boston Public Schools will test the new waiver process. Assuming that all aspects of the process work as planned, the new waiver process will become operational on Monday, July 9, 2012. Waiver requests for the 2012-13 school year can be requested at that time.

Elements of the new process:

As is the case with the current process, superintendents (or equivalent position for charter schools, collaboratives, private special education schools, etc.) must attest to specific elements of the district's hiring process. Specifically, for each waiver request, the superintendent will be required to certify that the district made a good-faith effort to hire licensed personnel and has been unable to find a qualified and licensed applicant for the position. Additionally, the district must submit the following information for each waiver requested:

  • Proof of specific actions taken to recruit a licensed educator, such as external job postings within the past six months.
  • The name and license number of all appropriately licensed educators who applied for the position, an explanation of why they were not deemed qualified to perform the duties, and/or the name and license number of any appropriately licensed candidates who declined the position.
  • An explanation why the unlicensed candidate is qualified for the position.
  • Proof that the candidate has a bachelor's degree, unless the applicable license is a vocational license that does not require a bachelor's degree.

This information may be submitted via the recently established Educator Licensure Documents Drop Box. There are several benefits of submitting documents via the Documents Drop Box as compared to fax or regular mail: security, quality of the image, speed, and cost. The instructions for submitting documents via the Drop Box can be found in Drop Box Central. It should be noted that educator licensure waiver requests will not be reviewed until all supporting documents are received and scanned into ELAR.

Upon receipt of the required documentation, the waiver request will be made "ready for review" by a member of the Licensure Office. As is the case with licensure applications and supporting documents, waiver requests will be reviewed and processed in the order that they are received. However, waiver requests that are "ready for review" can be expedited via the Licensure Expedite Drop Box.

Regulatory change:

At its June 26, 2012 meeting, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be voting to amend the Regulations for Educator Licensure and Preparation Program Approval, 603 CMR 7.00 to include a definition for a temporary substitute teacher. In accordance with this definition, any educator who is employed on a temporary basis for more than 90 consecutive days in the same role must either be licensed or working under a waiver. In addition, the language of the hardship waiver provision was slightly modified.

If you require any assistance related to this new waiver process or with educator licensure, please contact the Licensure Office via the Commissioner's Hotline at 781-338-3065 or Brian Devine, Director of Educator Licensure, at or 781-338-3124.

Last Updated: July 3, 2012

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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