The State Board of Education denied a request Wednesday to let Seven Oaks Classical School operate with only 50 percent of their teachers certified. Now, school officials say they’ll have to adjust their hiring practices.
State law requires at least 90 percent of a school’s teachers be state certified or in the process of getting a state license.
When Seven Oaks opened last September, only six of the 16 full-time teachers were certified.
The rest got what’s called an emergency license, with the understanding that they’d start the licensure process within a year. All but five are expected to come into compliance by the time the 2017-2018 school year begins.
Current law allows a charter school to apply for a waiver, letting them operate with fewer licensed teachers than are required of a public school. Under that provision, Seven Oaks asked the State Board of Education for permission to operate next school year with 50 percent unlicensed teachers.
Headmaster Dr. Stephen Shipp says the curriculum at a charter school is unique and requires different qualifications.
“I don’t think that there’s a one-to-one correlation between holding a certificate and being a great teacher,” Shipp says.
He adds the school is not trying to make a general statement about teacher education and licensure.
“Charter schools were intended to be schools of innovation, and for our particular school our innovation is to offer a classical, liberal education,” he says. “And for us, just given our curriculum and our methodology and our philosophy of education, most conventional teacher preparation programs don’t line up well with what makes our school unique.”
Now that the waiver request has been denied, Shipp says five teachers will either have to begin a licensure program or look for work elsewhere.
Read the full request below:
Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Claire McInerny contributed to this report.