Teaching certification changes proposed for military spouses

The Education Committee heard testimony Feb. 8 on a bill intended to speed the issuance of teaching certificates to military spouses.

Sen. Rita Sanders
Sen. Rita Sanders

LB389, introduced by Bellevue Sen. Rita Sanders at the request of Gov. Pete Ricketts, would require the State Board of Education to issue a certificate or permit to a military spouse who, among other requirements, holds a valid certificate or permit currently in force in another state to teach, administer or provide special services.

An applicant also would have to have held the certificate or permit for at least one year, be in good standing in all states where the certificate or permit is held, have no pending investigations or complaints, meet all residency and background check requirements and pay applicable fees.

Sanders said the proposed changes — such as shortening the time an applicant must hold a teaching certificate from two years to one — would help military spouses resume their teaching careers more quickly after relocating to Offutt Air Force Base.

Sanders said LB389 is part of an effort to make Nebraska more military friendly as the Department of Defense decides where to locate new commands, including the U.S. Space Command headquarters.

The certificate or permit for a military spouse would be valid for at least three years and include the same or similar endorsements to teach in all subject areas for which the applicant had been certified in the other state if Nebraska offers a similar endorsement.

Under LB389, the board would issue a preliminary permit to the applicant after they submit the application, pay any fees and complete the criminal history record check. It would remain in force until the state commissioner of education finishes reviewing the other requirements and either issues a certificate or permit or notifies the applicant of why it cannot be issued.

The bill also would require the board to adopt rules and regulations to expedite the processing of applications submitted by an individual whose spouse is serving on active duty.

Jeff Rippe, superintendent of Bellevue Public Schools, testified in support of LB389, saying it would help metro area schools that are struggling to fill teaching positions.

The bill would make it easier for qualified military spouses to get Nebraska teaching certificates, Rippe said, but still would require them to pass a background check, be in good standing and go through the hiring process.

“It’s not like we’re just handing out teaching certificates to anybody,” he said.

No one testified in opposition to the bill and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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