Reminder: Certs Required for All Admins Starting Sept. 1

Chelsey Martinez's picture

By the end of this week, all Michigan school administrators will need to possess a certificate - even if you've been deemed as "grandparented" in the past. This shouldn't be the first time you're hearing about this, but if it is, please be sure to read the information below to ensure that you're in compliance. Working without the proper certification can cost you your job, as well as significant state aid penalties for your district.

Beginning September 1, 2018, all Michigan school administrators are required to hold a School Administrator Certificate or School Administrator Permit. This is not a change in the law, but a change in practice by MDE designed to support schools and clear up confusion about compliance. The application, completed through the Michigan Online Educator Certification System (MOECS), is relatively fast and easy, and FREE to administrators who complete the process prior to Sept. 1, 2018.


Under MCL 380.1246, school administrators whose primary responsibility is administering instructional programs or whose job title is "Chief Business Official" must either complete a state-approved program and obtain a School Administrator Certificate or have been an administrator prior to January 4, 2010 and maintained their continuing education requirements – 150 hours of professional learning every five years.

However, this latter provision has caused confusion. Administrators working under this law were supposed to keep track of their continuing education hours locally. As a result, schools have found themselves out of compliance upon MDE audit. Since employing an improperly certified educator can cost a district a portion of their state aid payment, this is a problem for both the administrator and the school.

To address this and support maintenance of continuing education requirements, MDE has created this new experience-based certificate.

The Experience-Based School Administrator Certificate

The new Experience-Based School Administrator Certificate is a five-year certificate with unlimited renewals. To qualify for the new certificate, individuals must:

  1. Verify that they were employed as school administrators prior to January 4, 2010 using MDE's Administrator Experience-Based Verification form, and
  2. Certify that they have maintained their continuing education requirements.

Moving forward, all school administrators who obtain the Experience-Based School Administrator Certificate will start a new five-year cycle for the continuing education requirement and will be required to maintain professional learning hours in MOECS. Renewing an Experience-Based School Administrator Certificate requires the same 150 hours of education related professional learning that a traditional School Administrator Certificate requires. Individuals who hold a valid Michigan Professional Teaching Certificate shall be considered as meeting the continuing education requirements of this rule.

Applying for an Experienced-Based Certificate

School administrators will need to apply for the certificate through MDE's MOECS system where they will be able to verify details of their employment history and continuing education requirements. Administrators will also be required to submit a separate employment history verification form, as mentioned above.

Please note that logging into MOECS requires a username, password and MEIS account number. Educators who already have an MEIS account must use that account. Creating a new account will not work. If you have an account but cannot remember your login information, visit the MEIS website and use the username and password recovery tools available there.

For certification questions and support, please contact the MDE support desk at: (517) 373-3310.

New Admins/Those Who Don't Qualify for the Experienced-Based Certificate

Administrators who don't qualify for the Experienced-Based Certificate must still be compliant with the law. This means obtaining a School Administrator Certificate in one of two ways: the traditional route through a state-approved college/university program or through a state-approved alternative route, such as MASSP's Path to Leadership program. An administrator who falls under this category must begin the program no later than six months after he or she begins employment. The administrator then has three years to complete the program.

Additionally, administrators who are hired without certification and are working toward it (as referenced above) must also hold an Administrator Permit through MDE. Administrator permits are obtained in a similar way to other permits using MOECS and must be renewed annually, if employment continues and the Michigan Administrator Certificate is not obtained.

The initial request for a School Administrator Permit does not require submission of documents to MDE, but requires that the school/district maintain documentation for possible future audit, as well as certifying several claims, including that "an appropriately certificated school administrator is not available for the assignment."

What does this mean? According to MDE, a district has sole discretion to determine whether a certified individual is available for the assignment. When the district determines that a qualified and certified administrator is not available, the district may take advantage of the flexibilities offered by the permit system.

Reasons an appropriately certified individual is not available for assignment may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The individual is not available at the desired start date.
  • Established hiring practices preclude hiring someone with:
    • Ineffective or minimally effective evaluations,
    • Poor references,
    • Past disciplinary issues.
  • The individual lacks district specific knowledge or experience that is essential for success in the assignment.

Note that it has always been MDE's position that it is best practice to post and review candidates prior to hiring someone without appropriate certification to ensure the best possible candidate for the position has been selected.

For more information on the permitting process, please click here.


Principals and other administrators who need more detailed information about the new Experience-Based Administrator Certificate may find the following documents from MDE helpful:

For certification questions and support, please contact the MDE support desk at: (517) 373-3310.