SBEC selects new officers, agrees to rewrite proposed rule changes following TSTA’s comments

In its final meeting of the year, the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) unanimously selected the Harlingen CISD superintendent, Dr. Art Cavazos, as the board’s next chair, effective in February. Klein ISD counselor Rohanna Brooks-Sykes will be vice chair, and Leander ISD ESL teacher Jose Rodriguez will be secretary.

The board provided an update on educator data and provided 2018 and 2019 comparisons. Although the number of teachers certified through traditional undergraduate, university-based programs continues to trend downward, data suggests that the agency is at least becoming stricter on the quality of the institutions providing alternative certification. The number of Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) accredited in 2019 fell by nearly 50 percent compared to 2018, and the numbers of programs receiving Accredited – Warned and Accredited – Probation more than doubled.

The three top categories of the educator investigations involved inappropriate relationships with minors, violence in schools and drugs (in that order). There also were 300 more contract abandonment cases this year, and the SBEC’s legal division predicts this number to continue to increase in 2020.

The board voted on proposed amendments to TAC Ch. 249, Disciplinary Proceedings, Sanctions, and Contested Cases, Subchapter B, Enforcement Actions and Guidelines. In response to comments submitted by TSTA on 249.12 and 249.15, with which TEA agreed, the agency staff recommended striking the proposed changes and rewriting them with input from TSTA and other stakeholders.

TSTA argued that proposed changes to the contract abandonment clause, which now will be rewritten, may have required a teacher to file a petition in order to simply renew his or her certificate. Proposed changes regarding the reporting of child abuse and regarding “professional educator-student relationships” also will be rewritten and clarified.

The board adopted the four-year review of 19 TAC Ch. 230, Ch. 232, and Ch. 239. Ch. 230 establishes the certification requirements, testing requirements and types and classes of certificates and permits issued; Ch. 232 establishes the requirements relating to certificate renewal and continuing professional learning; and Ch. 239 establishes the requirements for Student Services Certificates (including counselors, librarians, and specialists.)

The board discussed the value in keeping the integrity of the master reading teacher certificate by allowing teachers with this certification to be able to maintain this experience and transition into reading specialist positions.

Testimony also was given on behalf of Texas counselors about the need for principals and districts to better understand the value of comprehensive counseling programs so that school counselors will less often be assigned other administrative duties.

Disability Rights groups testified in favor of Ch. 230 review as an opportunity to better serve students with disabilities.