Bill allowing undocumented immigrants to teach passes first test

A bill that would make it easier for immigrants with temporary legal status to get a Nevada teaching license has passed its first legislative hurdle.

The Assembly Education Committee passed AB27 on Wednesday. It heads to the Assembly floor for a vote.

The bill could affect students who have work permits through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA recipients or DREAMers.

Existing law allows the state superintendent to give a teaching license to someone who is not a citizen but has a work permit only if there's a teacher shortage for a subject the person can teach. Otherwise, applicants must be a citizen or legal resident.

The bill would allow those immigrants to get a teaching license if a district has a teacher shortage of any kind.

These are individuals that were basically raised and educated through our public education system and have paid for their college, and they're not able to fulfill that dream of becoming a teacher," said Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, a Las Vegas Democrat who is also a teacher.

AB27, which was requested by the Nevada Department of Education, could allow DACA recipients to get a teaching license if a district has a teacher shortage of any kind. The license would have some restrictions, according to state Superintendent Dale Erquiaga: It couldn't be transferred to another county, and districts would have to inform the state if they fired a teacher who had a license under the bill's provisions.

The measure could help DACA recipients in southern Nevada clear a hurdle. The Clark County School District has about 600 openings for teachers, and it wants to hire 2,600 teachers by next school year to ease overcrowding.

The situation has become so dire that Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky donned a Superman-style cape last month and rode a zip line through downtown Las Vegas in a publicity stunt aimed at recruiting teachers.

Washoe County School District officials said they are currently short 99 teachers and would also benefit from the bill.

Most school and business organizations who testified Monday said they were in favor of the bill, citing the shortage. The lone dissenter was John Wagner of the Independent American Party, who wanted to know whether people covered by executive immigration orders would qualify.

"Would that be someone who was, say, blanketed in by President Obama's amnesty thing? I would not be in favor of that," he said.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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