There’s an effort in Utah among lawmakers and the state education board to make the process of getting licensed as a teacher as seamless as possible. But problems in the current system are holding up that process.
Avary Lebaron is a 25 year old legal assistant interested in a career change. He’d like to teach at an elementary school. Because he doesn’t have a teaching license he’s applying for what’s called an Alternate Route to Licensure (ARL) through the state.
Or rather, he’s been trying to apply.
“I had trouble finding anything on the state website," says Lebaron. "I think I was eventually able to find some directions but I never found any forms on the state website.”
Lebaron didn’t find any forms because the state’s licensing portal is currently unavailable. A banner on the site says it will be back up on August 1st, but the deadline for ARL open application is July 31st. Exceptions are made for applicants who have been offered teaching positions but Lebaron wasn't aware he should be applying for jobs.
After many attempts to contact the licensing office by phone Lebaron has decided to just show up and figure it out in person.
Robyn Roberts works in that office and she says they’ve also been frustrated with the website challenges. The site to run background checks for applicants is also down.
“We have overwhelming stacks [of applications]," Robers says. "We’re not even staffed high enough to be able to handle the quantity.”
ARL isn’t the only area that has caused confusion. Terryl Warner sits on the state board and is heading up a new task force to streamline all teacher licensing.
Warner says highly qualified teachers from out of state also struggle to get their credentials in time.
"And they may be great teachers, I believe they are great teachers and yet they struggle to get licensed because they come from another state," says Warner.
During a time when there is a shortage of qualified teachers statewide, some of the best candidates might be stuck trying to navigate a website.