KB Reference Desk: Uncertified Teachers

Q:      Over the summer, we hired a teacher who is new to the profession. She had finished her teacher prep course and was scheduled to take her test last week after already starting in the classroom. We just found out that she did not pass, but can attempt it again in November. We’ve decided to keep her on as full-time substitute until she can retake her test. Do we need to let parents know about this change?

A:      Yes. Both federal and state laws require that you notify parents if their child has been educated by an uncertified teacher for more than one month. Hence, if you intend to keep the individual in a classroom as a full-time substitute, you will need to let parents know of this assignment and the individual’s certification status as soon as practicable after the expiration of that one month time period.

The Education Code allows districts to retain employees who are unable to obtain or maintain their certification on an “at-will basis” in a position other than one that requires certification (e.g., a substitute) at the rate of pay for uncertified subs. In this instance, because the individual will be substitute teaching full-time (e.g., filling in for a teacher on maternity or sick leave), the District will have obligations under both Texas and federal law to notify parents that their child is being educated by a teacher who has not fulfilled state certification requirements. 

ESSA: The newly-enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) superseded No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and requires that parents be notified if their child has been assigned to or educated by a teacher who has not fulfilled his or her state certification or licensure requirements if the teacher has taught their child for four consecutive weeks. (This would eliminate most regular substitutes who serve in a classroom for a few days or one week).

Texas: Similarly, the Texas Education Code §21.057 requires that parents be notified if their child has been assigned to or taught for more than 30 consecutive instructional days by an uncertified substitute or teacher. Specifically, this includes teachers on emergency permits and individuals waiting to take a certification exam. The requirements do not kick in if the teacher:

·       Has a temporary classroom assignment permit
·       Is currently in an Alternative Certification Program
·       Has a school district permit
·       Holds an out-of-state one year permit
·       Has a hearing impairment certificate
·       Has been granted a waiver by the Commissioner of Education

Therefore, if you intend to utilize this uncertified individual as a “quasi-teacher” on a full-time basis, you will need to notify the students’ parents if the individual is in the classroom full-time for over a month and does not meet an exception noted above. Previously under NCLB, you could combine the state and federal notice requirements into one notification letter. With the enactment of the ESSA, that provision has been removed; therefore, some experts advise to send notice under each law. Check with your school district’s attorney, who will be helpful in analyzing the application of these laws and in drafting appropriate letters. Either way, make sure to provide the notice in a bilingual form to any parent whose primary language is not English.