VASN President-elect Gina Bellamy attended the Virginia Board of Education (VBoE) Public Hearings on the Standards of Quality (SOQ) Draft Proposal May 21st in Prince William County and participated in the Focus Group. Gina verbalized VASN’s position on Specialized Student Support Personnel (§ 22.1-253.13:2 Standard 2. Instructional, administrative, and support personnel). While VASN supports creating a new staffing category for “specialized student support personnel in the SOQ with specified ratios for these positions”, we do not support the recommended specific ratios of “at least four specialized support position per 1,000 students”. VASN does not support this language, as this will allow school divisions to decide which support positions to include or EXCLUDE. For example, a school division could decide 4 social workers/1,000 students (no nurse, no psychologists) and be in compliance with the SOQ. A school nurse (RN) must be mandated in this ratio. The school nurse should not be a choice between the psychologist and/or social worker, as each position is distinct and not interchangeable.
- What credential should be expected of school nurses? There are Board of Education licenses for school psychologists and school social workers; however, school nurse criteria are not well-defined. The school nurse must be a RN licensed by the Virginia Board of Nursing, a division of Virginia Department of Health Professions, just as teachers are licensed by the VBOE.
The Focus Group was very engaged and VASN’s position received full support from all organizations present including the VA PTA, VA Association of Social Workers, VA Academy of Speech and Language Pathologist, VA Association of Special Education and Teachers to name a few.