TEA had a conference call Wednesday morning with Dr. Sara Morrison, Executive Director of the Tennessee State Board of Education, and board staff on proposed emergency rules.
TEA leadership and staff have been engaged in the rule-drafting process. While there are some differences from what TEA advocated for, the proposed rules are a good first step in dealing with problems caused by COVID-19. Both TEA and state board staff believe more emergency rules and waivers will be required moving forward.
Prior to the call, TEA Legal completed a comprehensive review of the proposed rules. Key takeaways include:
- for teachers: suspension of evaluations, and licenses requiring August renewal will be extended to August 2021;
- for students: schools may take distance learning attendance but not mark absences, grades on March 20 will be the course grade, and special needs evaluations are extended 90 days;
- for student teachers: a one-year extension for taking required license exams, and a waiver on completing student teaching.
TEA proposed allowing teachers to use observations for LOE if it benefited them. Providing teachers options is an association principle included in the March hold-harmless legislation. However, state board staff believe suspending evaluations is the most simple and equitable outcome. It is one TEA certainly contemplated as schools closed down.
In the call we noted eliminating LOE impacts tenure, differentiated pay and other issues that must be addressed. State board staff agreed. Next steps for the board will be to work with the department to draft a list of waivers school systems may use to do things like granting tenure. TEA will be involved in that process as well, while organizing locally to encourage systems to use every appropriate and needed waiver.
The agenda and call details are available at this link: Emergency rule SBE conference call meeting. The conference call will take place Thursday, April 9, between 2 pm and 4 pm. Conference Line: 605-472-5592 Access Code: 290578
Please note state board staff told us the call platform can get overloaded, even more so now with increased call traffic due to the pandemic. If you can’t get on the call, a recording will be available after the call.