News: Quick Takes

State Board of Education looking to approve school psychologist reciprocity

The General Assembly has so far failed to pass a bill to ensure nationally accredited school psychologists can get licensed. House Bill 933 would have instructed the State Board of Education to grant licenses to people certified by the National Association of School Psychologists.

The bill became controversial after Senate lawmakers added language allowing small businesses to provide association health insurance plans. The House killed the bill.

Now, the State Board of Education may revive the reciprocity agreement without direction from the General Assembly.

“The reciprocity agreement does not require legislation to be enforced but can be put into place through State Board of Education policy,” board member Olivia Oxendine told colleagues during the board meeting Wednesday, Aug. 1.

Oxendine said she is recommending that the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Committee consider H.B. 933 and craft a policy allowing licensing reciprocity for the education board to consider.

If the reciprocity agreement is approved, North Carolina would join 32 states with similar setups.

The idea for school licensing reciprocity came from the House Select Committee on School Safety, formed after the February school shooting in Florida. N.C. lawmakers focused on two fronts related school safety — physical security and mental health.

School psychologist vacancies were highlighted during the meeting of the mental health working group. Twelve school districts don’t have a school psychologist.

The N.C. School Psychology Association recommends one school psychologist for every 700 students, but North Carolina’s public schools have a ratio of 1:2,162. H.B. 933 wouldn’t have funded more school-psychologist positions to address the ratio, but it would have at least made it easier for nationally accredited school psychologists to work in North Carolina without again going through the licensing process.