The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) requires the state to adopt standards designed to ensure an adequate supply of qualified special education personnel that are appropriately and adequately prepared and trained. For professionals in the field of deaf education, the standard in the State is licensure as a Special Education Hearing Specialist. For professionals in the field of visual impairment, the standard in the State is licensure as a Special Education Vision Specialist. In the field of speech-language pathology, the Stateís standard is licensure based on a masterís degree in Speech-Language Pathology/Communication Disorders.
The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) will provide financial assistance in the form of tuition reimbursement to eligible individuals pursuing the necessary coursework to qualify for licensure in these three areas. Individuals holding a valid teaching license are eligible for financial assistance leading to licensure as a Special Education Hearing Specialist or a Special Education Vision Specialist. Individuals holding a teaching license as a speech therapist or individuals employed by school districts and education service cooperatives as speech-language pathology assistants on the basis of a Bachelorís degree in speech-language pathology are eligible for financial assistance leading to licensure as a Speech-Language Pathologist.
At the present time there is not a higher education hearing or vision teacher training program in Arkansas. However, an individual may be eligible to receive tuition reimbursement if enrolled in and taking classes at an accredited out-of-state college or university hearing or vision teacher training program. Upon starting classes, the individual must fax to the Special Education Unit at 501-682-4313 evidence of the universityís accreditation, as well as a letter of acceptance into the program.
For eligible individuals, each term/semester the ADE will reimburse all tuition and instructional fees relating to coursework leading to licensure, mileage for one roundtrip per week at the rate of $.42 per mile from home or an origination point beyond a 50 mile radius of Little Rock, and $175 to address incidental costs for books and other curricular materials. Proof of payment to the programís registrar for the coursework taken will be required prior to reimbursement for tuition and instructional fees. Reimbursement for mileage will require documentation of class attendance. All reimbursement is contingent upon successful completion of term/semester coursework.
As a condition of acceptance into the tuition reimbursement program, each potential participant will file with the ADE an application with a signed Commitment Statement obligating the participant to obtain licensure and employment in an Arkansas local public education agency in the field for which tuition assistance was provided. Employment must be for a period of time not less than the length of time reimbursement was awarded, For additional information, contact Susie Branon at firstname.lastname@example.org or Crenisha Wright at 501-682-4221 or at email@example.com.