Prior to an introductory meeting with Dr. Tom Burnham, Superintendent MS Department of Education (MDE), on July 23rd, it was discovered that MDE had submitted and received approval by the Licensure Commission for an alternative license for practitioners with a bachelor degree level of training in communication disorders. This license will be recommended as renewable, with limitations in the scope of practice, and require supervision by a Clinically Certified Speech Language Pathologist.
We have submitted a request to delay the submission of this license until issues of supervision and ethics are appropriately considered. We have enlisted the support of ASHA and the university graduate programs, have contacted legislators who chair pertinent committees, and are providing information to members of the State Board of Education (SBE). A draft of guidelines or procedures for supervision has been submitted to MDE. We have requested and received approval for personnel from ASHA to present training sessions on Speech Language Pathology Assistants: Supervision and Ethical Consideration via a webinar series.
We have an additional meeting scheduled with Dr. Burnham to again request a delay in the submission of this license to the State Board of Education, however, all information that we have been given indicates that it is the intent of the MDE to present this new license for approval at the upcoming SBE meeting on August 19th. It is imperative that MSHA members make contact with the legislators who are on the Education Committee for both the house and Senate. Follows is a sample letter addressing issues of concern:
I am writing to express concern with the possible implementation of a new license which will allow people at the Bachelor degree level to function as a “Speech Teacher” for articulation disorders in Mississippi schools. My concerns are centered on the lack of training in diagnostics and documentation of services, and the lack of field work experience for Bachelor level graduates of Communication Disorders programs. While I understand the dilemma of the Mississippi Department of Education and local school districts with insufficient personnel to provide a mandated service, it is my opinion that enacting a license that will place inadequately trained staff providing services to the children of this state is not the answer.
I ask that you request MDE to delay submission for approval of this license to Mississippi State Board of Education until consideration is given to improving skills for persons at this level of education, developing procedures to ensure appropriate management of this personnel type, and training for the Clinically Certified Speech Language pathologists in providing and documenting supervision.
Contact information for members of the Education Committee for the MS Legislature can be found on the Legislative website at http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/.
MS House of Representatives Education Committee
Cecil Brown, Chairman; Sara R. Thomas, Vice-Chairman
Members: Noal Akins; Toby Barker; Billy Broomfield; Kelvin Buck; Kimberly Campbell Buck; Clara Burnett; Bryant W. Clark; Alyce G. Clarke; Linda F. Coleman; Reecy L. Dickson; Bob Evans; Herb Frierson; Joe C. Gardner; Esther Harrison; Gregory Holloway; Wanda Jennings; Brandon Jones; Sherra Hillman Lane; John Mayo; Kevin McGee; David W. Myers; Russ Nowell; Jimmy Puckett; Rufus Straughter; J. Shaun Walley; Greg Ward; Joseph L. Warren; Tom Weathersby; Linda Whittington
MS Senate Education Committee
Videt Carmichael, Chairman; Gray Tollison, Vice-Chairman
Members: David Blount; Hob Bryan; Terry C. Burton; Doug E. Davis; Merle Flowers; Alice Harden; David Jordan; Tom King; Chris McDaniel; Bennie L. Turner; Michael Watson; J. P. Wilemon, Jr.; Lee Yancey
We understand that your time is limited with this being the beginning of the school year, but the approval of this license without appropriate regulations will affect your job responsibilities in the near future. We urge you to contact these legislators this week so that they will have time to respond prior to the SBE meeting scheduled for August 19th.
– Suzie Rosser, President