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School psychologist license reciprocity a step closer to becoming law

The House unanimously voted Thursday, May 17, to approve a bill allowing nationally certified school psychologists to work in North Carolina.

House Bill 933 would allow the State Board of Education to license an individual who holds a Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential from the National Association of School Psychologists.

The goal is to fulfill a need for school psychologists in schools. The N.C. School Psychologist Association recommends one school psychologist for every 500 students. The ratio in the state’s public schools is 1:2,000, well below the recommended level. Twelve districts don’t have a school psychologist.

The NCSPA has voiced strong support for the bill and encouraged its members to call their representatives to pass it.

HB 933 originated in the working group on student mental health, one of two subsets of the House Select Committee on School Safety. The committee sent 14 recommendations to the General Assembly last week, including licensing reciprocity for school psychologists.

“Our committee shared — I believe — a consensus that school social workers, school counselors, school psychologists, and school nurses are on the front line everyday to protect our children,” Rep. Josh Dobson, R-McDowell said. “They’re crucial to maintaining that safe environment.”

Dobson said the bill will allow school districts to add additional school psychologists without increasing appropriations, because the positions are already approved.

“We just need the school psychologists to fill those positions,” Dobson said.

Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, added an amendment that would speed the licensing process. It was approved without controversy.

HB 933 now goes to the Senate.

“This is not the end. This is simply the beginning,” Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, said. “We will continue to work to keep our kids safe in schools.”