MDE Memos Review Sexual Assault/Harassment, Cert Requirements

wendyz@michiganprincipals.org's picture

Principals will want to be aware of three memos put out recently by MDE. The first is a special memo from State Superintendent Brian Whiston that provides an easy-to-read overview of district and educator responsibilities under state and federal law when it comes to sexual assault and harassment. The other two memos review the limits on using staff with non-traditional backgrounds in counseling or library media related roles since both of these positions require specific degrees or endorsements. Districts employing an educator without the proper credentials can be liable for a loss of a portion of state aid dollars, so it is a good idea to review the responsibilities of any staff working outside their areas of certification or endorsement in light on the information in these memos.

All three memos are reproduced in their entirety below. You can also find the original memos here. Given the length of the memos, here is a quick table of contents:

MDE Memo #22-018: Sexual Assault and Harassment

Recent events and reports involving universities, athletics, and celebrities, have brought necessary attention to sexual assaults and harassment taking place across this nation. As these have prompted critical conversations and action, we must continue to make progress in our K-12 realm, as well.

Sexual harassment or assault not only is morally reprehensible, it's against state and federal law. Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 includes within its protections a prohibition against discriminatory practices, policies, and customs based upon sex, such as, sexual harassment. At the federal level, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in federally-funded education programs and activities. The prohibition protects all people—students, employees, parents, and guardians—from sexual harassment and violence.

Under Title IX, all districts must adopt and publish a Title IX grievance procedure. Districts also must designate at least one employee to serve as the Title IX Coordinator who shall assist with Title IX compliance and the corresponding responsibilities. This staff member should be independent of conflicts; report to leadership; and have meaningful authority to fulfill the job obligations.

A Title IX Coordinator's complete address and telephone number must also be published with the school's nondiscrimination notice and on the district's website. In addition, District Title IX Coordinators must be reported to the Michigan Department of Education annually through the Center for Educational Performance and Information's Registry of Educational Personnel Report.

But your district's responsibilities do not stop there.

Action is required. School administrators, counselors, and teachers with reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect are required to make an immediate report to child protective services (See MCL 722.623). Schools and Title IX Coordinators also must take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate and determine the circumstances surrounding alleged instances of sex discrimination. This is critical. All Michigan districts need to monitor outcomes, identify patterns, and assess the effects on school climate to avoid systemic failures.

School districts looking to adopt a policy addressing sexual abuse of children may do so, but it must be substantially consistent with the recommendations and guidelines set by the task force on the prevention of sexual abuse of children created under section 12b of the child protection law (See MCL 380.1505).

We live in a world where sexual harassment and violence can take many forms—graffiti, bullying, inappropriate touching, name-calling, and postings from our devices. As leaders in the education community, it is our responsibility to shine light on harassment and create a safe and productive learning environment for all our students, employees, parents, and guardians.

Please take this moment to review Title IX requirements available at the U.S. Department of Education's website. Ms. Elizabeth Collins, MDE's Title IX Coordinator, is also available to assist with questions. She can be reached at 517-241-2091 or collinse2@michigan.gov.

Thank you for taking the necessary steps to ensure that your district is a safe environment for everyone. It's not only the law, it's the right thing to do.

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MDE Memo #026-18: Certification Requirements for School Counselors

Michigan Compiled Law (MCL) 388.1763 states that "the board of a district or intermediate district shall not permit…a noncertificated educator to teach in an elementary or secondary school or in an adult basic education or high school completion program." In addition, MCL 380.1233 provides specific requirements for individuals who serve in a counseling role in a school district or intermediate school district.

Only educators who hold one of the following:

are qualified to carry out specific roles as school counselors. However, many schools use a variety of titles for these uniquely prepared staff members, and sometimes employ others under these titles who do not have one of these four credentials.

In accordance with MCL 388.1763 and 380.1233, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) requires schools to staff and assign educators with one of these four credentials when employing staff as school counselors. Any persons without the appropriate qualifications who perform any duties related to administering a school counseling program must be supported by someone with one of these four credentials.

The MDE will deem an educator working at a district or school level to be "administering a school counseling program" if the person's position description or job duties are based on any or all of the five elements below. Accordingly, educators found to be working in this capacity without one of the four credentials or not with the support of another educator with one of the four credentials may be liable for a deduction of state aid funds under the law.

  1. Academic Development
    Through monitoring of academic performance, active collaboration of staff, and consultation with students and their parents, school counselors advise students on credits required to successfully complete the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC), using their research into potential supports or interventions to maximize student success. School counselors deliver core curriculum lessons aligned with the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Mindsets and Behaviors in order to equip students with test taking, time management, and/or organization tools to be successful. Finally, school counselors advise students on academic opportunities for dual enrollment and early/middle college.
  2. Career Development
    Starting in the seventh-grade year, school counselors assist students in developing a post-secondary, Educational Development Plan (EDP) based on individual, small-group, and classroom consultations. In alignment with the ASCA standards, school counselors provide guidance and resources for career exploration, using career assessments and core curriculum lessons to identify training and educational opportunities which can lead to skills for certifications and career pursuits. School counselors also facilitate college fairs or visits, exploration of careers in the military, financial aid workshops to assist students and parents considering higher education, and experiences in career and technical education.
  3. Social and Emotional Development
    School counselors provide responsive services including individual, group and crisis response counseling. For students experiencing difficult life circumstances, school counselors make referrals to community resources to assist students with healthy coping strategies for successful school and life transitions. School counselors deliver core curriculum lessons aligned to the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors equipping students with interpersonal communication skills in order to become positive members of their school and community.
  4. Advocacy and Leadership
    School counselors advocate for school counseling programs and positive learning environments that focus on student learning and achievement by collaborating and connecting with teachers, administrators, staff, parents, and the community. School counselors demonstrate a commitment to continuous learning and professional growth, leading professional development activities and providing leadership for plans to improve student achievement within the context of an effective school counseling program.
  5. Program Management and Administration
    School counselors use data-driven approaches to plan, develop, implement, and evaluate programs, and as resources in support of the mission of school counseling programs, ensuring alignment to the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors. Using these approaches, school counselors plan and recommend ongoing professional development to building and district leadership and advocate for appropriate supervision and evaluation of school counselors using evaluation tools specific to school counselors.

A Quick Sheet document, intended to be a companion to this memo, is available from the OPPS Web site at www.michigan.gov/teachercert. This Quick Sheet contains more information and helpful resource links about the role of school counselors and a school counseling program in improving overall student achievement.

For additional information on deductions of state aid under MCL 388.1763, please contact Phil Chase at ChaseP2@michigan.gov or 517-241-3960.

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MDE Memo #027-18: Certification Requirements for Library Media Staff

Michigan Compiled Law (MCL) 388.1763 states that "the board of a district or intermediate district shall not permit…a noncertificated educator to teach in an elementary or secondary school or in an adult basic education or high school completion program."

Educators who hold a Library Media (ND) endorsement have attained a Master's Degree in Library Science or Library and Information Science (MLS or MLIS) and are therefore qualified to carry out specific roles in Michigan schools as teachers, information specialists, and program administrators. However, many schools use a variety of titles for these uniquely prepared staff members, and sometimes employ others under these titles who do not have the ND endorsement.

In accordance with MCL 388.1763, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) requires schools to staff and assign educators with the ND endorsement to provide instruction in and administration of a school library. Any persons without the appropriate qualifications who perform any duties related to a school library program must be supported by a certified educator with the ND endorsement.

The MDE will deem an educator working at a district or school level to be "administering a school library" if the person's position description or job duties are based on any or all of the five elements below. Accordingly, educators found to be working in this capacity without an ND endorsement or not with the support of another educator with an ND endorsement may be liable for a deduction of state aid funds under the law.

  1. Teaching
    Collaboratively designs and delivers instruction that develops students' ability to inquire, think critically, gain and share knowledge, and that enables members of the learning community to become effective users and creators of ideas and information.
  2. Literacy and Reading Promotion and Materials Selection
    Promotes reading for learning, personal growth, and enjoyment; maintains an awareness of major trends in children's and young adult literature and selects materials in multiple formats to support reading for information, pleasure, and lifelong learning; uses a variety of strategies to reinforce classroom reading instruction to address the diverse needs and interests of all readers.
  3. Information and Knowledge
    Selects, curates, promotes and uses physical, digital, and virtual collections of resources ethically and equitably; demonstrates knowledge of a variety of information sources and services that support the needs of the diverse learning community; selects and utilizes appropriate technology to track and secure materials in the collection; demonstrates the use of a variety of research strategies to generate knowledge to improve practice.
  4. Advocacy and Leadership
    Advocates for dynamic school library programs and positive learning environments that focus on student learning and achievement by collaborating and connecting with teachers, administrators, librarians, and the community; demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning and professional growth; leads professional development activities for other educators; provides leadership by articulating ways in which school libraries contribute to student achievement.
  5. Program Management and Administration
    Plans, develops, implements, and evaluates school library programs, resources, and services in support of the mission of the library program within the school according to the ethics and principles of library science, education, management, and administration.

A Quick Sheet document, intended to be a companion to this memo, is available from the OPPS Web site at www.michigan.gov/teachercert. This Quick Sheet contains more information and helpful resource links about the role of school library media professionals and the school library in improving overall student achievement.

For additional information on deductions of state aid under MCL 388.1763, please contact Phil Chase at ChaseP2@michigan.gov or 517-241-3960.

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