More than 900 Minnesota teachers over the past five years violated licensing rules aimed at making sure children get a proper education, but state regulators are doing virtually nothing to enforce the rules, according to a Star Tribune investigation. The superintendent in North. St. Paul told co-workers in an email that she was “clueless” about the violations in her district “until the Star Tribune pulled the data.” To avoid licensing problems in the future, the superintendent plans on asking state officials for more exceptions to licensing rules. The state has been increasingly generous in that regard, records show. The total number of waivers and other exceptions granted by the state Teaching Board more than doubled over the past five years, reaching a total of 9,785 in the 2009-2010 school year, state records show. At the same time, the number of improperly licensed teachers dropped more than 40 percent. "Districts have the ability to paperwork their violations down to zero by applying to the [Education Department] for variances," the North St. Paul superintendent said in the e-mail to her staff. "The teachers would still be teaching without the appropriate grade level or subject area licensure, but the variance would eliminate their inclusion in the year-end [Education Department] report."
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