The Board of Education approved yesterday a proposal to grant teaching certificates to educators who are waiting for pending clearances from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The BOE held a meeting yesterday and one of the topics discussed was the certification and licensing of educators. According to board member Herman T. Guerrero, the processes of certifying an educator is long and the shortage of teachers has become a drag on the education system.
Guerrero said an FBI clearance has always been a requirement for new teachers. The problem with the requirement is the amount of time to complete it. According to him, it takes roughly a year to complete the process.
During the board meeting, it was proposed to require both a police clearance and an FBI clearance for new educators. The police clearance would earn an educator a temporary certification indicating that an FBI clearance is pending. Once the FBI clearance is obtained, an official certification will replace the temporary one.
Guerrero later clarified in an interview that police clearances will only track criminal records in the past six months, as opposed to an FBI clearance that would track criminal history back to the legal age of 18.
During the meeting, BOE chair Marylou Ada and board member Florine Hofschneider were both reluctant to agree to the proposal, fearing that it could compromise the safety of students. According to Guerrero, the certification is temporary until the process of obtaining an FBI clearance is completed.
After the discussion, the motion was carried and Ada and Hofschneider voted in favor of Guerrero’s proposal.
Guerrero said this will combat the shortage of teachers and it will not be a problem because if it is discovered that an educator has been convicted of a felony in the past that could compromise the safety of students, the educator will be immediately terminated.
According to Guerrero, he feels that the use of an FBI clearance is only crucial for educators that are from off-island. He feels that it should not apply to local teachers because the island is small and news about any individual travels quickly.