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State to consider allowing emergency teacher subs with high school diploma

Updated January 28, 2022 - 10:32 am

The state will again consider allowing the Clark and Washoe county school districts to hire emergency substitute teachers who have only a high school diploma.

The Commission on Professional Standards in Education will hold a public hearing Feb. 24 on the proposed permanent regulation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move comes as school districts are grappling with staffing shortages this school year. Earlier this month, the Clark County School District called a “five-day pause” because of “extreme staffing shortages.”

A lack of substitutes has led many local campuses to ask teachers to sell their prep periods or combine multiple classes into one large space such as a gym or auditorium when substitutes aren’t available.

The school district’s substitute fill rate — how many vacancies are covered by a substitute teacher — ranged from 19.3 to 22.2 percent each day from Jan. 6-11. It improved to 25.4 to 30.1 percent for the three days after the pause.

The Nevada Department of Education partnered with Gov. Steve Sisolak on an emergency substitute regulation that took effect in late November 2020. It was extended under a temporary regulation by the Commission on Professional Standards, but that expired Nov. 1, 2021.

“Both regulatory avenues have a limited duration and are nonrenewable, which is why (the Nevada Department of Education) is seeking a permanent regulation,” department spokeswoman Allegra Demerjian said in a Thursday email to the Review-Journal.

If the commission adopts the resolution next month, it would go to the state Board of Education and then the Legislative Commission, Demerjian said.

Nevada school districts with fewer than 9,000 students and public charter schools within their boundaries are already allowed to hire emergency substitute teachers, but they can’t be in one classroom for more than five days in a 20-day period.

The proposed change would allow larger districts and charter schools within their geographic boundaries to hire emergency substitute teachers during “a state of emergency or declaration of disaster” who’ve earned a high school diploma “or its equivalent,” according to the draft resolution.

Currently, substitute teachers must have at least 60 college credits — or an associate degree or higher — to obtain a license.

Emergency substitutes would be allowed to stay on the job for the rest of the school year.

Proposed changes would also require at least one hour of training — provided by a school district or public charter school — for an emergency substitute teacher before starting on the job.

Training must cover “classroom management strategies and behavior management techniques,” according to the draft resolution.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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