In order to receive federal funds for services to students with disabilities, the state educational agency (SEA) must have an approved State Plan which meets all requirements of federal statute and regulation for Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Amendments of 1997. One requirement set forth in Part B is that the SEA must ensure "that personnel . . . are appropriately and adequately prepared and trained. To the extent that such standards are not based on the highest requirements in the State applicable to a specific profession or discipline, the steps the State is taking to require the retraining or hiring of personnel that meet appropriate professional requirements in the State must be specified in the State Plan."
For professionals in the field of speech-language pathology, the highest standard in the State is a master's degree. As the requirements for persons holding certification as a "speech therapist" or "Level I Speech-Language Pathologist" have not been based on this higher standard, the SEA set forth in the State Plan the steps to be taken to move those individuals holding these credentials on the basis of a bachelor's degree to the higher standard.
To assist individuals affected by this requirement, the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) will provide stipends to them so that they may obtain the graduate hours necessary to achieve a master's level certificate as a speech-language pathologist. The following individuals are eligible:
(1) persons holding a teaching certificate as a speech "therapist,"
(2) persons holding certification as a Level I Speech Pathologist, or
(3) persons employed by school districts and education service cooperatives as speech-language pathology assistants on the basis of a Bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology.
The ADE is dedicating a portion of the discretionary funds it receives under Part B of IDEA 97 to assist individuals with this cost. Individuals eligible for a stipend will be reimbursed at a rate of actual cost up to $140 per course, up to 18 hours per fiscal year (July 1 - June 30), to cover tuition and registration fees. Each individual will also receive $175 per term/semester not to exceed $700 per fiscal year to cover the incidental costs of books, travel, etc. Reimbursement will be made upon receipt of proof of successful completion of the coursework accompanied by a reimbursement request form.
Attached is an application form for participation in this effort. Stipends will not be paid to any individual who has not completed an application for the program and received notification from the Arkansas Department of Education, Special Education, that he/she has been accepted. As available funds are limited, applicants will be processed in the order received until funding is exhausted. Priority will be given to individuals employed by school districts or education service cooperatives. Please make this information available to all eligible personnel interested in obtaining the hours necessary to become a master's level speech-language pathologist.
Completed applications should be mailed to:
Arkansas Department of Education
Grants and Data Management
4 Capitol Mall, Room 105-C
Little Rock, AR 72201-1071