The Ohio legislature is taking aim to combat the substitute teacher crisis by taking action to extend short-term, non-bachelor substitute flexibility through the 2023-2024 school year. On March 30, 2022, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 583 in an overwhelmingly favorable 80-10 vote. H.B. 583 aims to amend R.C. § 3319.226 to extend the relaxed education qualifications for short-term temporary substitutes previously implemented for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years by H.B. 409 and S.B. 1.
The bill now resides with the Senate's Primary and Secondary Education Committee, where it is speculated that the Committee will augment the bill into an omnibus education legislation package. Despite the technical and budgetary amendments expected to be rolled into the bill, H.B. 583 remains poised to extend the much-needed substitute flexibility relied upon by districts over the past two school years for at least two school years into the future.
H.B. 583's current language preserves the same relaxed substitute teacher qualifications implemented by its predecessors, H.B. 409 and S.B. 1. The relaxed qualifications remain unchanged: boards of education may employ individuals who do not possess a bachelor's degree if (1) they meet educational requirements imposed by the district, (2) are deemed to be of good moral character, and (3) pass a criminal background check in accordance with R.C. § 3319.39.
If districts have not already done so, it is advisable to implement a policy prescribing educational requirements for temporary, non-bachelor substitute teachers. Boards of education must work with potential candidates to obtain a temporary license from the Ohio Department of Education. Temporary substitute teaching licenses are effective for only one year and are non-renewable. However, temporary substitutes may obtain a new license to teach in a subsequent school year.
Where H.B. 409 and S.B. 1 each authorized temporary, non-bachelor substitutes for just one school year, H.B. 583's proposed language will extend the arrangement for two more school years. With the legislature's recognition that the substitute shortage will likely continue into the foreseeable future, the bill also includes provisions seeking to identify and address the roots of the problem. H.B. 583 contains language that would create a joint committee of both the House and Senate to conduct a study of the substitute teacher shortage.
PKM attorneys continue to monitor the bill's progress through the Senate's Primary and Secondary Education Committee and will provide updates throughout the legislative process.