Florida clears teacher certification backlog from January

The Department of Education had fallen thousands of applications behind.
CHRIS URSO  |   TimesFlorida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran visits Tampa Bay Academy Monday, April 15, 2019 in Tampa.
CHRIS URSO | TimesFlorida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran visits Tampa Bay Academy Monday, April 15, 2019 in Tampa.
Published May 15

Back in late January, the Florida Department of Education had 31,666 teacher certification applications open, with 15,290 of them in hand longer than the statutory processing limit of 90 days.

On Wednesday, education commissioner Richard Corcoran announced all those requests had been completed, meeting the 120-day deadline he had set.

To get the work done, the department added six employees to the certification division, and told superintendents to send in names of any teachers that needed priority attention. Corcoran said at the time that unreasonable wait times would become a thing of the past.

Approved certifications had dropped 55 percent since 2017. At a time when districts have seen a decrease in qualified applicants, having teachers obtain certification in a timely fashion had become more urgent than ever.

With those delayed files processed, the department aims to ensure it doesn’t fall behind again.

“We are now looking towards our next goals, analyzing how we can turn around completed applications in 60 days, and eventually 30 days or less, rather than the statutory limit of 90 days,” spokeswoman Audrey Walden said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed into law a measure that could help the process, by giving teachers with temporary certificates more time to earn their permanent teaching licenses. Florida Education Association leaders have said they hope the department will consider granting some leeway to those teachers who still haven’t completed the work, but whose temporary certificates expire before the new law takes effect.

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