ORDER OF THE
STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
ADOPTING PERMANENT RULES
The scope statement for this rule, SS 030-20, was published in Register No. 773A1, on May 4, 2020, and approved by State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor on May 20, 2020.
ANALYSIS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
Explanation of agency authority:
The state superintendent is authorized to promulgate rules for the certification of school nurses under s. 115.28 (7m), Stats.:
115.28 General duties. The state superintendent shall:
(7m) Certification of school nurses. Certify school nurses, make rules for the examination and certification of school nurses and file in the state superintendent's office all papers relating to school nurses certification and register each such certification.
Additionally, the department is required to implement the licensure of pupil services professionals under s. 118.19 (10), Stats. Under s. 227.11 (2) (a) (intro.), Stats., “[e]ach agency may promulgate rules interpreting the provisions of any statute enforced or administered by the agency, if the agency considers it necessary to effectuate the purpose of the statute, but a rule is not valid if the rule exceeds the bounds of correct interpretation.” See also, Wisconsin Ass'n of State Prosecutors v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Comm'n, 2018 WI 17, ¶ 42 (“statutory mandates are also statutory authorizations, and authorization of an act also authorizes a necessary predicate act.”) (internal quotation marks omitted). As such, a rule is required to establish criteria and procedures for the licensing of pupil services professionals under s. 118.19 (10), Stats. Finally, under s. 115.28 (7) (c), Stats., the state superintendent has the authority to license and make rules for the examination and licensing of persons, including teachers, employed to provide publicly funded special education and related services.
Related statute or rule:
Plain language analysis:
The proposed rule amends chapter PI 34 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code with respect to clarifying and creating flexibility around licensing rules for pupil services professionals, which include school nurses, school psychologists, and school social workers. The proposed rule also makes technical revisions under the section governing the eligibility for and renewal of tier I licenses under s. PI 34.028 which need to be made to align with this proposed rule.
Summary of, and comparison with, existing or proposed federal regulations:
A summary of comparable federal regulations with regard to the license types affected by this rule is as follows:
School Nurse: There are no federal regulations regarding the competency of nurses working in schools. However, the National Board for Certification of School Nurses (NBCSN) is a national credentialing center that sets the professional standard for school nursing along with the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). Both organizations set minimal preparation for a school nurse as a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
School Psychologist: There are no federal regulations regarding the competency of school psychologists. However, the National Association of School Psychologists and the American Psychological Association are national credentialing entities that have set standards for professional practice.
School Social Worker: There are no federal regulations regarding the licensure of school social workers. However, the National Association of School Social Workers (NASW) recommends minimum professional standards for the competency of school social workers. NASW recommends a master’s degree in social work (MSW) as the entry-level qualification for school social workers. They also recommend local education agencies ensure school social workers have an MSW degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. However, should the local education agency employ school social workers whose highest degree is a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), NASW recommends an MSW-level social worker should provide supervision for the BSW-level social worker.
Summary of any public comments and feedback on the statement of scope for the proposed rule that the agency received at a preliminary public hearing and comment period held and a description of how and to what extent the agency took those comments into account and drafting the proposed rule:
The department held a preliminary public hearing and comment period on May 12, 2020, and received comments on the statement of scope for the proposed rule. A brief summary of comments and the department’s response to those comments are as follows:
- Comments in favor of the scope statement, specifically with respect to the proposed changes to rules governing the licensure of school social workers, note the significant needs around student mental health and school safety in Wisconsin. The respondents further note the disadvantages some school districts face in meeting these challenges in trying to recruit and retain school social workers because of factors such as geographic location relative to the three approved MSW programs in the state. As a result, these respondents believe these concerns could be addressed by: 1) giving attention to the geographic disparities in the distribution and availability of school social workers throughout the state, and 2) giving greater consideration to what steps are necessary to allow the certification or licensure of clinical counselors in the school setting in order to deploy additional, well-trained school social workers and counselors.
Agency Response: The department will strive to ensure clarity and efficiency in the rulemaking process for licensing school social workers. The above comments were forwarded to program staff for their consideration in rulemaking.
- Comments in favor of the scope statement, specifically with respect to the revisions to the licensure of school psychologists, speak favorably toward the proposed use of the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential as a pathway to for licensure for school psychologists. They note that the NCSP credential is the highest credential in the field of school psychology due to its commitment to high levels of professionalism, ethical practice, and continuing professional development. Respondents believe this change could allow school psychologists with national credentials to more easily obtain a school psychology license in Wisconsin. Respondents argue this is a needed step in this time of increasing school mental health needs and unprecedented shortages in school psychology practitioners.
Agency Response: The comments appear to support the direction of the scope statement. The comments were forwarded to program staff for their consideration in rulemaking.
- The majority of comments against the proposed changes spoke against the proposed revisions to school social workers. They believe that in order to preserve the integrity of the profession, the requirement to have an MSW to complete the necessary practicum requirements in order to obtain a school social worker license must be maintained. They note that school social workers are often leaders in schools, in no small part due to their knowledge and involvement in the development of IEPs, 504s, PBIS, and trauma informed care, thus making them essential in supporting student mental health. As such, while the demand for more school social workers is high, they believe that eliminating such requirements in order to fill positions would harm Wisconsin students by lowering standards to getting into the profession. They argue that school social workers serve a critical role in supporting a community coping with the grief and trauma of our current COVID-19 environment and their level of skill and quality of service must not be compromised in meeting those needs.