UNLV program expedites teacher licensure, helps fill CCSD shortage

A little-known state law passed in 2015 may force hundreds of Clark County teachers out of a job. (FOX5)

A little-known state law passed in 2015 may force hundreds of Clark County teachers out of a job. That’s unless they can pay for a costly class, required to keep their licenses.

The state gave teachers three years to comply. State law requires teachers hired in 2015 or later to take a ‘Family Engagement’ course. It’s offered at 11 universities, in-person or online.

The state law affects teachers from out-of-state, who don’t have a course-equivalent completed. The class can cost up to $1,400. It’s a burden that falls on teachers to pay.

“This is a problem,” CCEA executive director John Vellardita said. “This is not some inconsequential problem.”

Teachers have been scrambling to get back into the classroom. This time it was to sign up for a college course, required to keep their licenses.

“Their out of pocket cost can be anywhere from $700 to 1,400 to do it,” Vellardita said.

It’s called the ‘Family Engagement’ course. Area universities have developed curricula to meet the state requirements.

“The idea - the intent behind it is actually good: to try to involve parents and families of students being taught in the school system,” Vellardita said.

While it became a requirement back in 2015, teachers have been concerned about its approaching deadline.

“We've heard as high as 900 in Clark County alone,” Vellardita said. “There’s currently 450 vacancies. You want to let go 900. All of sudden you have a major crisis.”

He said the county relies on recruiting out-of-state, and it cannot afford to lose qualified teachers.

“There’s a number of educators that don't have this college credit, and what? We're going to let them go? Not going to happen,” he said.

While Vellardita said the course does have its benefits, the cost shouldn’t fall on teachers.

“I think there should be more of an investment on the part of the state and, or the district for an educator to obtain these because that burden is pretty significant,” he said.

With time running out, Vellardita said he hopes the state will make emergency changes to give teachers a chance to comply.

“You don't let 900 qualified, competent, accomplished educators walk out the door, particularly when you have a crisis of shortage, because of this issue,” Vellardita said.

CCSD deferred questions to the Department of Education which did not immediately have a response.

There are already 450 open teaching jobs in Clark County. A state requirement passed in 2015 may force up to 900 more teachers out of the system. That's unless they can pay for a required 'family engagement' course to keep their licenses. Snapshot of courses offered: @FOX5Vegas pic.twitter.com/qhQvUGmXSl— Tiana Bohner (@FOX5_Tiana) April 25, 2018

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