1997 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Gordon
Senate Bill 3035
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-3-2, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO EXEMPT CERTAIN PERSONS SEEKING SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR CERTIFICATION FROM CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS PROMULGATED AFTER SUCH PERSONS HAD BEGUN THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 37-3-2, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-3-2. (1) There is established within the State Department of Education the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Development. It shall be the purpose and duty of the commission to make recommendations to the State Board of Education regarding standards for the certification and continuing professional development of those who teach or perform tasks of an educational nature in the public schools of Mississippi.
(2) The commission shall be composed of fifteen (15) qualified members. The membership of the commission shall be composed of the following members to be appointed three (3) from each congressional district: four (4) classroom teachers; three (3) school administrators; one (1) representative from schools of education of institutions of higher learning located within the state to be recommended by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning; one (1) representative from the schools of education of independent institutions of higher learning to be recommended by the Board of the Mississippi Association of Independent Colleges; one (1) representative from public community and junior colleges located within the state to be recommended by the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges; one (1) local school board member; and four (4) lay persons. All appointments shall be made by the State Board of Education after consultation with the State Superintendent of Public Education. The first appointments by the State Board of Education shall be made as follows: five (5) members shall be appointed for a term of one (1) year; five (5) members shall be appointed for a term of two (2) years; and five (5) members shall be appointed for a term of three (3) years. Thereafter, all members shall be appointed for a term of four (4) years.
(3) The State Board of Education, when making appointments, shall designate a chairman. The commission shall meet at least once every two (2) months or more often if needed and authorized by the State Board of Education. Members of the commission shall be compensated at a rate of per diem as authorized by Section 25-3-69 and be reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses as authorized by Section 25-3-41.
(4) An appropriate staff member of the State Department of Education shall be designated and assigned by the State Superintendent of Public Education to serve as executive secretary and coordinator for the commission. No less than two (2) other appropriate staff members of the State Department of Education shall be designated and assigned by the State Superintendent of Public Education to serve on the staff of the commission.
(5) It shall be the duty of the commission to:
(a) Set standards and criteria, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education, for all public teacher education programs in the state;
(b) Recommend to the State Board of Education each year approval or disapproval of each public teacher education program in the state;
(c) Establish, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education, standards for initial teacher certification in all fields;
(d) Establish, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education, standards for the renewal of teacher certificates in all fields;
(e) Review and evaluate objective measures of teacher performance, such as test scores, which may form part of the certification process, and to make recommendations for their use;
(f) Review all existing requirements for certification;
(g) Consult with groups whose work may be affected by the commission's decisions;
(h) Prepare reports from time to time on current practices and issues in the general area of teacher education and certification;
(i) Hold hearings concerning standards for teachers' and administrators' education and certification with approval of the State Board of Education;
(j) Hire expert consultants with approval of the State Board of Education;
(k) Set up ad hoc committees to advise on specific areas; and
(l) Perform such other functions as may fall within their general charge and which may be delegated to them by the State Board of Education.
(6) All controversies involving the issuance, revocation, suspension or any change whatsoever in the certification of an educator required to hold a certificate shall be initially heard in a hearing de novo, by the commission or by a subcommittee established by the commission and composed of commission members for the purpose of holding hearings. Any complaint seeking the denial of issuance, revocation or suspension of a certificate shall be by sworn affidavit filed with the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Development. The decision thereon by the commission or its subcommittee shall be final, unless the aggrieved party shall petition to the State Board of Education for an administrative reconsideration. The party aggrieved by the decision of the commission may petition, within ten (10) days, the board for an administrative reconsideration, which shall be on the record previously made before the commission or its subcommittee unless otherwise provided by rules and regulations adopted by the board.
(7) The State Board of Education, acting on the recommendation of the commission, may deny an application for any teacher or administrator certificate for one or more of the following:
(a) Lack of qualifications which are prescribed by law or regulations adopted by the State Board of Education;
(b) Has a physical, emotional or mental disability that renders the applicant unfit to perform the duties authorized by the certificate, as certified by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist;
(c) Is actively addicted to or actively dependent on alcohol or other habit-forming drugs or is a habitual user of narcotics, barbiturates, amphetamines, hallucinogens, or other drugs having similar effect, at the time of application for a certificate;
(d) Revocation of a certificate by another state;
(e) Committed fraud or deceit in securing or attempting to secure such certificate;
(f) Fails or refuses to furnish reasonable evidence of identification;
(g) Has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a felony, as defined by federal or state law; or
(h) Has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a sex offense as defined by federal or state law.
(8) The State Board of Education, acting on the recommendation of the commission, may revoke or suspend any teacher or administrator certificate for specified periods of time for one or more of the following:
(a) Breach of contract or abandonment of employment may result in the suspension of the certificate for one (1) school year as provided in Section 37-9-57;
(b) Obtaining a certificate by fraudulent means shall result in immediate suspension and continued suspension for one (1) year after correction is made;
(c) Suspension or revocation of a certificate by another state when the applicant's Mississippi certificate was issued on the basis of reciprocity shall result in immediate suspension or revocation and shall continue until records in the prior state have been cleared;
(d) Has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a felony, as defined by federal or state law;
(e) Has been convicted, has pled guilty or entered a plea of nolo contendere to a sex offense, as defined by federal or state law; or
(f) Knowingly and willfully committing any of the acts affecting validity of mandatory uniform test results as provided in Section 37-16-4(1).
(9) (a) Dismissal or suspension of a certified employee by a local school board pursuant to Section 37-9-59 may result in the suspension or revocation of a certificate for a length of time which shall be determined by the commission and based upon the severity of the offense.
(b) Any offense committed or attempted in any other state shall result in the same penalty as if committed or attempted in this state.
(c) A person may voluntarily surrender a certificate. The surrender of such certificate may result in the commission recommending any of the above penalties without the necessity of a hearing. However, any such certificate which has voluntarily been surrendered by a certified employee may be reinstated by a unanimous vote of all members of the commission.
(10) Any person whose certificate has been suspended on any grounds except criminal grounds may apply for reinstatement of the certificate after one (1) year from the date of suspension, or after one-half (1/2) of the suspended time has lapsed, whichever is greater. A certificate revoked on the criminal grounds may be reinstated upon petition to the commission filed after expiration of the sentence or parole or probationary period imposed upon conviction, whichever is shorter. The commission may require an applicant for reinstatement to furnish evidence satisfactory to the commission of good character, good mental, emotional and physical health and such other evidence as the commission may deem necessary to establish the applicant's fitness to perform the duties authorized by the certificate.
(11) Reporting procedures and hearing procedures for dealing with infractions under this section shall be promulgated by the commission, subject to the approval of the State Board of Education. The revocation or suspension of a certificate shall be effected at the time indicated on the notice of suspension or revocation. The commission shall immediately notify the superintendent of the school district or school board where the teacher or administrator is employed of any disciplinary action and also notify the teacher or administrator of such revocation or suspension and shall maintain records of action taken.
(12) A teacher or administrator entering the school system of Mississippi for the first time shall be granted a one-year provisional certificate which may be renewed for not more than two (2) additional one-year periods. A provisional certificate recipient, who has had no prior certification to teach in Mississippi or any other state, shall be paid a minimum salary in accordance with the salary scale provided in Section 37-19-7 and shall not receive minimum base pay increment increases as long as they possess provisional certification. The State Board of Education, in its discretion, may waive the provisional year certification requirements on a case-by-case basis for any person possessing prior teaching experience and other evidences of teaching abilities deemed sufficient by the board. Persons who possess two (2) years of classroom experience as a teaching assistant or who have taught for one (1) year in an accredited private school may be exempted by the State Board of Education from any student teaching requirements otherwise mandated for provisional certification. The board shall also be authorized to grant a temporary certification to business and professional personnel, to allow school districts to offer specialized or technical courses. The board shall adopt rules and regulations to administer such temporary certification. As part of its duties, the commission shall oversee the management of this provisional year and shall establish rules and criteria for granting certification following this provisional period. These rules and criteria for teachers shall include, but shall not be limited to: (a) a basic skills examination that is suitable for determining whether the candidate has the mastery of reading, writing and mathematics skills a prospective schoolteacher reasonably should be expected to achieve; (b) an examination that can measure the candidate's mastery of a minimum amount of common or general knowledge in the cognitive teaching area in which the prospective teacher seeks certification; and (c) an observational instrument to be used to evaluate the on-the-job performance of a teacher during the provisional year of teaching. These rules and criteria for administrators shall include, but shall not be limited to: (a) a basic skills examination that is suitable for determining whether the candidate has the mastery of administrative practices, personnel management and financial management a prospective administrator should be expected to achieve; (b) an examination that can measure the candidate's mastery of a minimum amount of common or general knowledge in the cognitive teaching areas of English, mathematics and social studies; and (c) an observational instrument to be used to evaluate on-the-job performance of an administrator during the provisional year.
In order to allow a school district to offer specialized or technical courses, the State Board of Education may grant a one-year expert citizen-teacher certificate to local business or other professional personnel to teach in a public school or nonpublic school accredited by the state; or in order to utilize the expertise of local business or other professional personnel in a school district, a noncertified person may teach for a maximum of three (3) periods per teaching day in a public school or a nonpublic school accredited by the state. Such person shall submit to the commission a transcript or record of his education and experience which substantiates his preparation for the subject to be taught. Such person may begin teaching upon his employment by the local school board and certification by the commission. In no case shall any local school board hire noncertificated personnel as authorized under this paragraph in excess of five percent (5%) of the total number of certificated personnel in any single school. The board shall adopt rules and regulations to administer the expert citizen-teacher certification.
In the event any school district meets Level 4 or 5 accreditation standards, the State Board of Education may, in its discretion, exempt such school district from any restrictions in this paragraph relating to the employment of noncertified teaching personnel.
(13) As part of the rules and criteria on provisional certification developed by the commission, there shall be established a procedure whereby each school or school district shall make reports to the commission concerning the performance of each teacher or administrator working in that school or district and holding provisional certification. These reports shall contain an evaluation of the on-the-job performance of the beginning (provisional) teacher or administrator and a recommendation concerning regular certification. Each report must be signed by the school administrator or supervisor who conducted a major part of the class observation and the principal or superintendent and approved by the local school board. There will be two (2) signatures on each report.
(14) Each district shall develop a plan to provide in-service training for beginning teachers. This plan shall include means of addressing needs for improvement that are determined through the evaluation of on-the-job performance. Cooperative and third-party arrangements may be used in these plans. Each district shall have a plan approved by the State Board of Education and in effect by school year 1986-1987. The State Board of Education may delegate the approval of these plans to the commission.
(15) The commission shall carefully monitor the administration of this provisional teachers and administrators program. The State Board of Education shall establish a program evaluation unit to monitor the administration of this provisional teachers and administrators program to conduct validation studies and to gather data on deficiencies found in prospective teachers and administrators which might indicate weaknesses in their preparation.
(16) As part of the rules and criteria for the renewal of teacher certificates in all fields, every certified teacher shall:
(a) Be required to successfully complete the prescribed in-service training staff development plan approved by the Commission on School Accreditation as provided in Section 37-17-8. This plan shall include means of addressing needs for improvement as determined through the evaluation of on-the-job performance. The commission may request school districts to provide in-service training designed to ensure that phonics is taught within the context of reading and writing; or
(b) Complete course work for credit prescribed by the commission at an accredited college or university; or
(c) Programs and curriculum developed by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning to instruct teachers in student dropout prevention techniques and the latest nontraditional instructional approaches, including meeting individual needs of students through the following nontraditional modes of instruction: integrated, holistic curriculum; whole-language instruction; collaborative learning; peer tutoring; values development and clarification; use of rich science and social studies resources; mathematics manipulatives; discovery learning; computer-based technology; video technology and other technology; and other means for every school-age child in the state; or
(d) A combination of (a), (b) and (c) as determined by the commission.
(17) The commission shall develop and present to the State Board of Education a plan for implementing a program to encourage and reward financially professional development in teachers, school administrators and other certified school personnel. The plan shall include, but not be limited to, criteria to guide participants in planning their professional development; standards of balance, breadth and vigorousness for such plans; criteria for their evaluation and approval; and procedures for administering the programs.
(18) The State Board of Education may adopt rules and criteria for a Professional Development Program based upon the plan presented by the commission. Once such program is implemented, the commission shall be responsible for reviewing and approving professional development plans, monitoring compliance with the plans as approved, approving amendments and revisions to approved plans, certifying acceptable activities, and certifying completion of a one-year segment, and authorizing the pay increment provided for by law.
(19) All such programs, rules, regulations, standards and criteria recommended or authorized by the commission shall become effective upon approval by the State Board of Education as designated by appropriate orders entered upon the minutes thereof.
(20) The granting of a certificate shall not be deemed a property right nor a guarantee of employment in any public school district. A certificate is a privilege license indicating minimal eligibility for teaching in the public schools of Mississippi. This section shall in no way alter or abridge the authority of local school districts to require greater qualifications or standards of performance as a prerequisite of initial or continued employment in such districts.
(21) It is not the intent of the Legislature under this section to repeal by implication Section 37-9-9 or 37-9-11, which provide for rules and regulations governing the issuance of teachers' certificates and the establishment of minimum test scores by the State Board of Education.
(22) An appeal from the action of the State Board of Education in denying an application, revoking or suspending a certificate or otherwise disciplining any person under the provisions of this section, shall be filed in the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County on the record made, including a verbatim transcript of the testimony at the hearing. The appeal shall be filed within thirty (30) days after notification of the action of the board is mailed or served and the proceedings in chancery court shall be conducted as other matters coming before the court. The appeal shall be perfected upon filing notice of the appeal and by the prepayment of all costs, including the cost of preparation of the record of the proceedings by the State Board of Education, and the filing of a bond in the sum of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) conditioned that if the action of the board be affirmed by the chancery court, the applicant or certificate holder shall pay the costs of the appeal and the action of the chancery court.
(23) Every certified administrator who has applied for employment as a principal in a public school district shall have a current evaluation performed by the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Development within the preceding fifteen (15) months, utilizing an appropriate screening process, on file with the local school board. No such administrator shall be eligible for employment by such school board without such current evaluation. The results of the said current evaluation shall be a public record subject to the provisions of the Mississippi Public Records Act, Section 25-61-1 et seq.
(24) Beginning with the 1995-1996 school year, individuals seeking school administrator certification shall successfully complete a training program and an assessment process prescribed by the State Board of Education. Individuals who hold administrator certification before the implementation of the State Board's assessment process, but who have not practiced as a school administrator, shall successfully demonstrate competency in this assessment process. However, any individual seeking administrator certification who began the course requirements for such certification before July 1, 1994, and completes those requirements before June 30, 1998, shall be exempt from this subsection. Any educator holding an administrative endorsement but having no administrative experience or not serving in an administrative position on January 15, 1997, shall be exempt from the requirements of demonstrating competency in the assessment process prescribed by the State Board of Education under this subsection.
(25) In addition to the reasons specified in subsection (8) of this section, the board shall be authorized to suspend the license of any licensee for being out of compliance with an order for support, as defined in Section 93-11-153. The procedure for suspension of a license for being out of compliance with an order for support, and the procedure for the reissuance or reinstatement of a license suspended for that purpose, and the payment of any fees for the reissuance or reinstatement of a license suspended for that purpose, shall be governed by Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be. Actions taken by the board in suspending a license when required by Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163 are not actions from which an appeal may be taken under this section. Any appeal of a license suspension that is required by Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163 shall be taken in accordance with the appeal procedure specified in Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be, rather than the procedure specified in this section. If there is any conflict between any provision of Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163 and any provision of this chapter, the provisions of Section 93-11-157 or 93-11-163, as the case may be, shall control.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.