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Education

House Passes School Psychologist License Reciprocity Bill

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In North Carolina, there is one psychologist for every 2,083 students, compared with the national recommended ratio of one psychologist for every 700 students.

During the second day of the short session, the House passed HB 933 that streamlines recruitment of out-of-state school psychologists by recognizing the nationally certified school psychologist credential as sufficient qualification for becoming a school psychologist in North Carolina.

The recommendation came from the House Select Committee on School Safety, which formed following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

School psychologists play a vital role in the mental health and well-being of students by offering academic, social, and behavioral supports. North Carolina faces a shortage of school psychologists.

There is one psychologist for every 2,083 students, compared with the national recommended ratio of one psychologist for every 700 students. Across the state, there are 784.25 school psychologists employed, and 74.9 school psychologist vacancies.

Rep. Josh Dobson, R-Avery, chair of the student health subcommittee, discussed impetus of the bill.

“Currently, there is no agreement in place to allow our school psychologists from out-of-state schools to practice in North Carolina without going through [a] cumbersome application process and licensing procedure,” said Dobson. “This bill would change that.”

The bill directs the State Board of Education to license individuals who hold the national credential to practice as school psychologists in North Carolina.

Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, proposed an amendment to set a time frame for the bill. The amendment passed unanimously.

Dobson clarified that the bill does not require any additional appropriation because it addresses credentialing for vacant positions rather than establishing new positions. Funds for the vacant positions have already been appropriated.  

“No where is this near the end. This is simply the beginning, and we will continue to work to ever keep our kids safe in our schools,” said Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, who serves as a co-chair of the House Select Committee on School Safety.

The bill will now be considered in the Senate. 

Other education-related bills were introduced to the House and referred to committees, including:

●Expansion of an anonymous tip line for reporting of bullying and threats.

●Development of threat assessment teams and peer-to-peer counseling programs.

●Allowing Durham Public Schools to provide housing for teachers.

●Defining training standards for school resource officers.

●Expanding the use of school risk management plans among charter and nonpublic schools.

●Requiring every school to complete an annual school building vulnerability assessment.

●Requiring local school boards to report to the Center for Safer Schools on school resource officer data, and then requiring the Center to report this information to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee.

●Increased funding for school resource officers.

●Permitting Lincoln County Schools to align their school calendar with that of Gaston College.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on EducationNC