RALEIGH — The first bill of the 2018 North Carolina General Assembly short session to pass one of the legislative bodies took less than 24 hours to be approved.
House Bill 933, the Reciprocity/School Psychologist Licensure bill, passed the state House 114-0 on Thursday morning.
The act directs the state education board to grant a license to practice as a school psychologist to anyone who holds the nationally certified school psychologist credential. Currently, a North Carolina state license was required for a school psychologist, even if holding the national license.
N.C. Rep. Jonathan Jordan (R-Jefferson) voted in favor of the bill, which now will go to the state Senate.
“It’s a very good step in one direction toward improving safety by getting more school psychologists out there,” Jordan said on Thursday. “I was told that we got 70 school psychologist positions (in North Carolina) that are not filled, even though they’ve been funded.”
The bill was fast-tracked through the House, being introduced shortly after the 2018 short session started at 12 p.m. on Wednesday.
The preamble to the bill states that the number of school psychologists in the North Carolina has declined since 2013-14. One of the reasons for the decline, according to the preamble, is “the lack of reciprocity granted to individuals who are licensed as school psychologists in other states and may wish to practice in North Carolina.”
H933 follows one of the 15 recommendations by the House Select Committee on School Safety, which was formed in February after 14 students and three staff members were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14.
The 15 recommendations from the House committee that were unanimously approved include seven mental health recommendations and eight physical safety recommendations.
Bills following several of the recommendations were filed in the state House on Wednesday and Thursday. Those bills are awaiting committee approval before a potential vote involving the full House, which could come as early as next week. Jordan said the recommendations are one of the “hot topics” for this short session.
Some of the mental health recommendations are to require threat assessment teams in all public schools, to require peer-to-peer counseling in middle and high schools, to develop a plan to coordinate care among mental health support professionals and to establish statewide applications where students can anonymously report threats.
The physical safety recommendations are to study expansion and requirements of volunteer school resource officer programs, to extend mandatory safety plan and drill requirements to all public schools, to fund $1.8 million in grants for school resource officers, to require facility vulnerability assessments and to require local education boards to report on SROs annually.
N.C. Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Blowing Rock) previously stated that the NCGA will likely look at more of the mental health recommendations in the short session and work on some of the physical safety recommendations at the local level.