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October 16, 2017
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JP O'Hare

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Board of Regents Acts to Help Teachers Displaced by Hurricane Maria Get Temporary Certification to Work in NY

Public Comment Period Begins November 1, 2017

Update: Public comments will be accepted through January 2, 2018

The Board of Regents today took action to allow teachers displaced by Hurricane Maria to obtain temporary nonrenewable teaching certification in New York State, the State Education Department announced today. The regulations allow for alternative forms of proof of certification and recent employment to obtain a temporary certificate.

“Today’s action by the Board continues our efforts to assist those children and families impacted by the devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “We know entire families no longer have a place to call home and many will seek to rebuild their lives in new places, such as New York State. With schools facing an influx of new schoolchildren, they will need teachers that can relate to these children’s recent horrifying experiences. Through this regulation change, we hope to ease the transition of moving to a new state, new community and new school for children, parents and teachers alike.”

“After going through a terrifying experience, many of the children displaced by Hurricane Maria and arriving in New York will be immersed in an unfamiliar home and an unfamiliar school,” State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said. “By allowing teachers from a familiar place who may share familiar challenges, we hope to help these children grow accustomed to their new surroundings while providing schools an avenue to best serve their growing student population with qualified teachers.”

Recently, Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, leaving thousands of people displaced. Some families and teachers from these impacted areas, and their school-aged children, have already relocated to New York and many more may relocate in the coming weeks and months. Last week, NYSED issued guidance to school districts to assist them in enrolling and serving displaced students.

The expectation is that many of these displaced students may not be fluent in English, and the Department wants to ensure that there are a sufficient number of certified teachers capable of teaching these students. The regulation change allows for a temporary certificate for teachers who have been displaced from Puerto Rico or another U.S. territory as a result of Hurricane Maria to teach in New York, if they meet the following requirements:

(1) The candidate holds a certificate or authorization to teach from Puerto Rico or another U.S. territory prior to Hurricane Maria and the candidate, as a result of the Hurricane, has relocated to NY;

 (2) The candidate must also provide satisfactory evidence of employment, such as recent pay-stubs or W-2 forms, from a public school in Puerto Rico or another U.S. territory affected by Hurricane Maria in a position that is equivalent to the title and type of certificate sought.  Such experience must be within one year of October 17, 2017, the effective date of the regulation;

(3) The candidate must meet the general requirements for certificates prescribed in Subpart 80-1 of the Commissioner’s regulations (including all workshops and a criminal history check); and

(4) The candidate must have a commitment of employment from a school district or BOCES for one year of employment as a teacher in the area of the certificate sought (including a plan for mentoring from the school district).

The Department recognizes that these candidates may have difficulty obtaining a copy of their certificate and proof of employment, and therefore the regulations allow for certain alternatives that candidates may use to show proof of certification and employment. As alternative proof of certification, candidates can provide a notarized attestation that such individual is certified. Alternative proof of employment could include recent pay stubs or W-2 forms.

This temporary certificate will be non-renewable, and valid until June 30, 2018, allowing the teacher to work in a public school or BOCES for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year. However, during this time, teachers from Puerto Rico may pursue a New York State initial teaching certificate through the existing reciprocity pathway provided for in Section 80-5.8 of the Commissioner’s regulations, which allows certified teachers from other states or U.S. territories to obtain a New York certification if they have at least three years of experience in a public school in another state or territory and the candidates received ratings of effective or highly effective or the substantial equivalent during each of his/her three most recent years of experience.  In addition, these candidates must complete the required workshops and receive fingerprint clearance. 

The proposed regulation was adopted as an emergency measure at the October meeting, effective on October 17.  A Notice of Proposed Rule Making will be published in the State Register on Nov. 1, 2017. Public comments on the proposed changes will be accepted through Dec. 18, 2017 and can be submitted by email to

Following the 45-day public comment period required under the State Administrative Procedure Act, it is anticipated that the proposed amendment will be presented to the Board of Regents for permanent adoption at the January 2018 meeting. If adopted at the January 2018 meeting, the proposed amendment will become effective on January 25, 2018.

Public Comment Period

A Notice of Proposed Rule Making was published in the State Register on November 1, 2017. NYSED will accept comments on the proposed amendments through January 2, 2018. Please email comments to