Illinois teachers face 'very stiff penalty' if license lapses

News-DemocratJuly 5, 2013 

If you're an educator in Illinois and let your license lapse, it's going to cost you.

Illinois is changing from a teacher certificate system to a new licensing system. If the new Professional Educator License is allowed to lapse, a teacher must either pay $500 or complete nine semester hours of course work before it can be renewed, St. Clair County Regional Superintendent Susan Sarfaty said.

"It's a very stiff penalty," Sarfaty said. "Under the old law, a lapsed certificate did not happen until five years out ... it's six months now."

The Illinois Federation of Teachers has been sending information out to its members on a regular basis regarding the change to teacher licenses, according to spokesman David Comerford.

"We strongly recommended that teachers and paraprofessionals take steps to make sure their license does not lapse, so they won't face any penalties," he said.

As of July 1, all educator certificates in Illinois were automatically converted into a license, impacting about 75,000 educators including 5,000 in St. Clair County,

The reason behind the change from certificates to licenses was to simplify the system, Sarfaty said. Illinois had more than 60 different certificates for educators.

Three types of licenses exist now. They are the professional license (PEL), the Educator License with Stipulations (ELS) and substitute license.

"Every teacher and administrator will have one PEL, and everything they currently have on their certificate will be listed as endorsements on their PEL," Sarfaty said.

The stipulated license covers vocational instructors, para professionals and bilingual instructors, among others.

Sarfaty said you only need a substitute license if you don't have a professional license. "People that have a four-year degree in any field can apply for a substitute license," she said.

Another change with the substitute license requires all substitutes to take and pass the basic skills test, now known as the Test of Academic Proficiency, within five years.

Sarfaty advised area educators to log in to the online educator license information system before the end of the month to ensure their license and endorsements are correct. In addition, she said it's vital for educators to check their license renewal dates.

"If you don't currently have a registered license, you will owe these renewal fees," Sarfaty said, which are around $50.

The license system is completely paperless. Everything must be completed online, including paying registration fees.

The online system has been overloaded this week, Sarfaty said, but the state is working to correct the issues. On Monday alone, Sarfaty said her office received at least 80 calls about the new license system. "This is a huge shift for our educators," she said.

This change will have no impact on an individual student's education, according to Sarfaty.

Sarfaty said individuals who attend college out of state or are moving to Illinois from another state can obtain a stipulated license, but must take six semester hours of courses in Illinois before they can obtain the professional license.

For more information about the new license system, visit www.isbe.net/licensure or contact the St. Clair County Regional Office of Education at (618) 825-3900.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at (618) 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/BND_JForsythe.

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