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State Board prepares to adopt rule for full-time adjunct teachers

The rule expands school districts’ ability to use non-union educators.
Emily Grullon, 23, left, helps fellow math teacher Haylei Dowell, 48, decorate her classroom at James Monroe Middle School in Tampa. Dowell became a teacher after being a marketing director for a bank.

With concerns over a teacher applicant shortage still strong in Florida, the state is preparing to offer school districts another path to fill its classrooms — the full-time adjunct instructor.

Districts long have had the ability to employ part-time adjuncts, who need not meet the same credentialing as contracted employees and do not fall under the same pay and benefit structure as if they were represented in collective bargaining.

It wasn’t until the spring legislative session, though, that lawmakers extended the ability to hire full-time adjuncts, as well.

The legislation allows for districts to set the testing requirement for the instructors to demonstrate their knowledge of the subject they would teach. And it grants them the chance to hold the position for up to three years with a non-renewable adjunct certificate.

To make the concept work, the Department of Education has to get its rules in place. To that end, the department is accepting comment through Wednesday on its proposed language stating that anyone with a valid full- or part-time adjunct certificate would be eligible to work as qualified instructional personnel.

This is one of 13 rule proposals headed for the State Board on Nov. 15. The board has been focusing its attention on bolstering its rules in recent months as a way to cement its authority, which past incarnations of the panel have not wielded to any great degree.

Most notably, the board has taken steps to ensure that school districts are following legislative mandates on matters ranging from medical marijuana usage to required lessons.