UMD teaching license paperwork glitch now affects hundreds of students

This January, the University of Minnesota-Duluth admitted to a paperwork glitch that left a group of fresh grads fighting to get their teaching licenses, and now, more programs could be under fire, and more students impacted.

The original glitch left 25 students waiting on their dual teaching licenses from UMD's Integrated Elementary and Special Education program. First, UMD admitted paperwork submitted to the Board of Teaching didn't reflect the current curriculum. School officials said that the curriculum as it stands is in good shape, and if it had been documented correctly, the issue wouldn't even exist. However, in trying to amend the original issue, they discovered that instead of dozens of students affected, the paperwork problem impacts hundreds. 

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UMD's vice chancellor, Dr. Andrea Schokker, said who originally made the paperwork mistakes is something they either don't know, or aren't saying right now. For now, the bigger concern is how this could change the reputation for UMD's teaching programs.

20 programs disapproved

Nearly all the curriculums within the College of Education need to be re-documented. The Board of Teaching has disapproved 20 programs, which means UMD is not allowed to enroll new candidates into those programs until written applications are resubmitted.

"What I'm focused on right now is trying to get this taken care of, and the accountability. I hold the department absolutely accountable for this, but what has happened has happened over the course of many, many years. So the current team, which is a different team, is working hard to get this fixed. I'm much less concerned about who is responsible than getting it fixed. However, we are investigating the situation here internally," Dr. Schokker said.

The Board of Education is required to communicate this information to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. A spokesperson pointed out a national accreditation is not a requirement, but those who want to keep it must submit an annual report by Friday. A change in state accreditation status triggers a review and could result in a visit to the school, or a revocation of the accreditation.

Incoming freshmen, recent grads OK

The Board of Teaching put the College of Education on a form of probation until next April, but UMD has its own deadline in motion and is working to resolve the issue by Aug. 1. The school says incoming freshman will not be impacted, nor will any of the other students going through the program. An internal investigation is also in the works.

UMD has worked to reassure students caught in the middle that the issue is being resolved. Newly announced variances by the Board of Teaching are allowing December grads to get full licenses, and the school will make the same request for those finishing school in May.
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