The shortage of substitute teachers has become a significant problem for school districts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently passed legislation seeks to address this problem by authorizing school districts to relax the education requirements to become licensed as a substitute teacher. However, the legislation does not establish a new, uniform requirement for all substitutes in the state; rather it requires individual boards of education to establish new education requirements for substitutes.
Under existing law, an individual must have a post-secondary degree to become a substitute teacher. H.B. 409 effectively permits school districts to remove the post-secondary degree requirement for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. However, there is a catch. In its place, a board of education must establish its own education requirements for substitute teachers. H.B. 409 defers to each school district to determine those educational requirements. If a board does not take action, then the post-secondary degree requirement will remain for that school district.
As H.B. 409 does not define education requirements, boards of education have flexibility. Boards could develop their own requirements or can model their requirements on those that have existed for other staff (e.g., educational aides). Nothing in H.B. 409 prohibits boards from varying education requirements by grade or subject area.
Pepple & Waggoner has prepared a resolution that complies with H.B. 409. The resolution allows boards to select from several different education requirements, which are derived from other sections of Ohio law. By aligning the new education requirements to existing laws, school districts will have familiar, objective requirements.
When adopting new education requirements, boards should ensure that any new requirements do not conflict with board policy, administrative guidelines, or existing job descriptions.
Be advised that H.B. 409’s substitute teacher provision applies only for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. Furthermore, even if a board adopts new education requirements, a prospective substitute teacher must satisfy all other applicable requirements and procedures contained in the Revised Code and the Administrative Code. The State Board of Education is required to issue a non-renewable temporary license to those individuals who meet all requirements.
If your board wants to consider the model resolution or if you have questions about H.B. 409’s language related to substitute teachers, contact board legal counsel.