Department of Education Reminds Schools of Personnel Qualifications under IDEA

October 24, 2022

Memo States Special Education Teacher Shortage Is Not Reason to Cut Credentials or Expertise

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) recently sent a memo to all State Directors of Special Education reminding them of their obligation to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to all students with disabilities. FAPE includes the provision of special education and related services that meet the requirements of IDEA Part B, which guarantees that special education teachers and associated service providers are appropriately, adequately prepared, and trained. The memo states, “Public school special education teachers may not have special education certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis; and must hold at least a bachelor’s degree.” These requirements apply to special education teachers in public elementary, middle, and high schools. There are a few exceptions. Charter school special education teachers are subject to slightly different rules. In certain cases, individuals who have not received state certification as a special education teacher may qualify to teach students with disabilities in public schools if they meet certain criteria and are part of a program providing an alternate route to special education teacher certification. Related services personnel must also meet their discipline’s state licensing or certification requirements. This memo comes on the heels of a national special education teacher shortage. Newly released federal data shows that 53% of public schools reported feeling understaffed as this school year started. Unfortunately, among these public schools, special education teachers were in the most understaffed positions. 

Department of Education Memo

Original Article

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