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Career Technical Education

Vocational Licensure Waivers Appendix

Massachusetts state law requires that all educator roles that require licensure within a Chapter 74 program are filled with educators who hold the appropriate Massachusetts educator license. However, if a school district has been unable to hire a licensed and qualified educator for a position, they have the option of applying for a hardship waiver. The hardship waiver permits employment of an educator who does not currently hold the appropriate license but who the district believes has the experience and knowledge to be successful in the role of the license. The Department will grant a hardship waiver only when a district can demonstrate that a good faith effort has been made to find an appropriately licensed educator and it is granted on the assumption that the educator will complete the steps to earn the license.

Q: How long is a waiver valid?
A: A hardship waiver is valid for the school year in which it was requested. All granted waivers and open waiver applications will expire on June 30th of that school year.
For example, if a district applies for a waiver on December 15, 2018 and it is approved on January 4, 2019, then the waiver will expire on June 30, 2019.

Q: Can a waiver be transferred between school districts? Educators?
A: No. When a waiver is issued, it is only valid for the applying school district, for the specific educator listed and for the field granted. A waiver is not transferable to another district or to another educator for the same role.

Q: Can an educator apply for a Licensure Hardship Waiver?
A: No. Only a school district may apply for a waiver.

Q: When can the district apply for a waiver?
A: A district can apply for a waiver for the upcoming school year beginning on April 1st and ending on June 30th of that school year. For example, if a district wanted to apply for a waiver for the 2020/21 school year, they may apply as early as April 1, 2020 and as late as June 30, 2021.

When a district submits a waiver request, the ELAR system assumes that the waiver is for the current school year unless they are applying between April 1st and June 30th. If a district applies during this three-month window, they must select if the waiver they are requesting is for the current school year or for the following school year. For example, if a district applies for a waiver on May 15, 2020, they will need to select if the waiver is for the 2019/20 school year OR the 2020/21 school year. For another example, if a district applies for a waiver on August 20th, 2020, the ELAR system will automatically record the waiver as one for the 2020/21 school year.

Q: What is required for a Vocational Licensure Hardship waiver to be granted?
A: The requirements for a waiver to be approved can be broken into two halves: The Responsibilities of the District requesting the waiver; and the Responsibilities of the Applicant

Responsibilities of the District: To show that the district made a good faith effort to recruit an appropriately licensed and qualified candidate. The district must submit:
  • Evidence that the job was publicly posted for at least 2 weeks within 6 months prior to the waiver application date
    • The district must submit at least one (1) piece of evidence, such as a copy of a job posting, that makes it clear that the position was publicly posted.
      • An internal job posting will not be accepted.
    • The job posting submitted must make it explicitly clear the exact license a successful candidate will hold.
      • For example, if the waiver is for a Carpentry 9–14, license, the posting's title/job description should make it clear that a Carpentry, 9–14, license is required. If the information on the job posting is too vague (such as if the posting simply lists the position as "Woodshop"), the Licensure Office will not be able to accept it.
  • A list of appropriately licensed candidates who applied for the position with individual explanations as to why they were not hired/offered the job
    • Districts must provide specific reason why candidates' knowledge/skills/abilities were insufficient for the position.
      • The district should provide reasoning beyond "not recommended for hire."
    • If no appropriately licensed educators applied for the position, the district may simply state: No licensed candidates applied.
    • For the purposes of the waiver application, the Licensure Office is only interested in the appropriately licensed candidates.
      • For example, say that a district is applying for a waiver for an Electronics, 9–14, license, and one of the applicants holds an Engineering Technology, 9–14, license. This applicant does not need to be listed in the waiver documents, as they do not hold the appropriate license for the position.
  • An explanation of why the district wants to hire this particular unlicensed candidate
    • The district should supply a brief explanation why they wish to employ the unlicensed applicant that speaks to the educator's knowledge/skills/abilities beyond what is required for the license.
      • Districts should not simply state that the educator holds the necessary degree, holds the occupational license or has taken some of the necessary exams as these are already requirements for the license.
Responsibilities of the Applicant: In order to be eligible for a waiver, the applicant must meet the following minimum requirements:
  • Submit an application for the license associated to the waiver request
    • The district will not be able to submit a waiver request until the applicant has applied for the license
  • Provide a high school diploma/GED/official college transcript as appropriate
  • Document at least 75% of the work experience required for the license
    • Ideally, the applicant will be able to document 100% of the experience required.
    • If an educator is applying for a license that requires 4 years of employment experience, at least 3 years of the educator's experience must be properly documented before the waiver can be approved.
  • For certain fields, the applicant must show that they hold appropriate occupational license

Q: What happens when a waiver is granted?
A: Upon verification that all components of an application and applicant requirements have been met, the waiver is granted. Both the district and the educator are sent a letter informing them of the approval. The educator is then eligible to work in the role of the license for the school year.

Q: What happens if a waiver application is reviewed and not granted?
A: If a waiver application is unable to be granted, a letter will be sent to the school district detailing the reasons why. Districts should note that this does not mean the waiver can't eventually be approved. Waiver applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis. Districts may submit the additional information and the Licensure Office will re-evaluate the application.

Q: What happens when a waiver expires?
A: Ideally, the educator will have completed all outstanding licensure requirements by the end of the school year. This allows the license to be issued and the educator may begin working under said license. However, if an educator has not completed all requirements for the license by the end of the school year, the employing school district may apply for an additional year waiver if they so choose.

Q: What is needed for an additional year waiver to be granted?
A: The requirements for an additional year waiver can be broken into two halves: the Responsibilities of the District requesting the waiver and the Responsibilities of the Applicant

  • District's Responsibility: To show that a new good faith effort was made to hire an appropriately licensed candidate.
    • The district's responsibilities for additional year waivers mirrors the requirements for the first-year waiver. The district must provide: Evidence that the position was publicly posted in the 6 months prior to submitting the waiver application; a list of all appropriately licensed applicants for the position and a reasoning why they were not hired; and an explanation why the unlicensed educator is most suited for the role. (Please see above for an in-depth description of each requirement)
  • Applicant's Responsibility: To prove that they are taking steps toward earning the license by meeting the definition of continuous progress
    • When a waiver is approved, the applicant is sent a letter that outlines what is considered continuous progress for additional year waivers
      • "Continuous progress" is essentially a list of the remaining requirements for the license. It could be: earning a passing score on a test, earning an occupational license/certification, earning/documenting additional subject matter knowledge college credits, etc.
    • Applicant must complete at least one item on that list in the time since the last waiver was approved.

Q: Can the district resubmit first-year waiver documentation for additional year waivers?
A: No. If a district is applying for additional year waivers, they must repost the position for the new school year and provide all necessary information based off the new posting.

Last Updated: November 10, 2020

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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