The University has taken responsibility for the Integrated Elementary and Special Education program's continued lack of accreditation, referred to as a “glitch in the licensure process” by College of Education and Human Service Professions Dean Jill Pinkney Pastrana on Jan. 8. Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Andrea Schokker said in a memo circulated Friday that "(The IESE program) is currently not in approved status … due to incomplete and inaccurate paperwork/documentation." The memo said that the May 2015 IESE cohort might still be unable to obtain licensure upon graduation since the IESE program must now go through the process of re-accreditation, which could take up to six months.
Minnesota's Board of Teaching accredits teaching programs throughout the state, and once accredited, programs can issue teaching licenses to graduates provided they have completed the requisite coursework. In lieu of permanent licenses, the Board of Teaching has granted temporary licenses to IESE graduates who already had job offers prior to graduation so that they could begin work in their districts. However, there is a catch: only graduates with existing job offers are eligible for temporary licences, and usually, in order to get a teaching job offer from a district, a graduate needs a teaching license.
Three recent IESE graduates were contacted for this article, and two of them did not want to speak about the issue out of fear that it could affect their chances of getting a job. One agreed to an interview on the condition of anonymity. Jennifer graduated from the IESE program in December but could not get a job because of problems obtaining a teaching license.
"I didn't get a job because I couldn't guarantee (the district) when I would have my license," she said.
December IESE graduates were first officially notified of the problems with licensure on Jan. 8 by Pastrana, but did not explain what had caused the 'glitch.'
Around the same time, Jennifer heard secondhand that the reason for the delay was incomplete paperwork.
"(Recent IESE graduates heard) there was a problem with UMD being approved or accredited with the state because (UMD) didn't turn in their paperwork on time," Jennifer said. "So we were all just kind of like, 'Are you joking me? We just spent four and a half years here and none of us can go get a job.'"
The IESE program allows graduates to teach elementary kids from kindergarten to sixth grade and children with special needs from kindergarten through 12th grade, both of which require separate teaching licenses. Upon its creation in 2010, IESE obtained dual licensure from the Board of Teaching so that graduates would not need to apply for the licenses separately.
The Board of Teaching changed a few minor rules and regulations in 2012 and all programs affected, including the IESE, had to file the necessary paperwork with the Board of Teaching within a year.
"It was a really minor thing that we needed to submit," Schokker said.
The Board of Teaching deals directly with CEHSP and program coordinators within CEHSP for accreditation purposes. When the proper paperwork was not submitted within the original year deadline, the Board of Teaching granted an extension until December 2014.
"We actually met what they had said was the final deadline," Schokker said, "but I would say that I don't think we're totally blameless."
Despite making the deadline, the IESE program still lost its accreditation by the Board of Teaching and must now be re-accredited.
BY JOHN FAHNENSTIEL