New teacher licensing board takes shape

Teacher licensing as we know it in Minnesota is about to change. Both the system and the group that administers the licenses were part of an overhaul during the last legislative session. While details of the new tiered licensure system are not quite finalized, the new board that will oversee licensing will officially start work in a few months.

As of Jan. 1, 2018, both the Minnesota Board of Teaching and Minnesota Department of Education’s licensing division will cease to exist. The Board of Teaching was established by the legislature in 1973, and its 44-year tenure will come to an end. At the start of the new year, the Board of Teaching and MDE’s licensing division will be replaced by a new entity, called the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board, or PELSB. 

The change is much more substantial than simply a name change. This change reflects a significant shift in the governance of teacher licensing in Minnesota.

For decades, some functions related to educator licensing have been handled by the Minnesota Department of Education’s licensing division, while other duties related to licensing have fallen under the purview of the Board of Teaching. 

The responsibilities of MDE’s licensing division have included making licensing determinations and issuing licenses, conducting the STAR report, which is a statewide licensure compliance check, and developing the Teacher Supply and Demand Report, a report to the Legislature due every two years that provides critical data about student and teacher demographics and shortage areas. Applicants for licensure have made their application directly to MDE.

The Board of Teaching has developed and maintained the Teacher Code of Ethics, made determinations regarding teacher license discipline matters, written rules regarding teacher licensing eligibility requirements, and made determinations regarding special permissions.

In response to a report by the Office of the Legislative Auditor, legislators adopted new laws that will move all teacher licensing duties to a single institution, and that will be the new PELSB.

Gov. Mark Dayton announced his appointments to the PELSB in September. The new board will include 11 members—nine new members and two who served on the Board of Teaching.

  • Maggie Borman, a third-grade math teacher at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop, a Minneapolis-based charter school.
  • Penelope Dupris, a teacher in the St. Louis Park district.
  • Katie Groh de Avina, an executive associate at the Academia Cesar Chavez, a charter school located in St. Paul. Serves as the human resource personnel on the board.
  • Heidi Hahn, the director of special education for the Paul Bunyan Education Cooperative in Brainerd.
  • Amy Hewett-Olatunde, an English language learner teacher at LEAP High School in St. Paul Maplewood. Named interim PELSB chair.
  • Anne Krafthefer, a fifth-grade teacher at Lester Park Elementary in Duluth. Currently serving on the Board of Teaching.
  • Anne Lindgren, a speech language pathologist in the Anoka-Hennepin School District.
  • James Miklausich, a principal at East Junior High School in Shakopee.
  • Brian Rappe, a sixth-grade special education teacher at Nicollet Middle School in the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District.
  • Abdi Sabrie, a school board member for Mankato Area Public Schools. Serving as the public member on the board.
  • Loy Woelber, the superintendent for Westbrook Walnut Grove Schools. Currently serving on the Board of Teaching.

One of the most pressing issues facing the board will be rule-making. The board is charged with finalizing and adopting the rules that will need to be in place before the state’s new tiered licensing system can be implemented. 

More information about the new tiered licensing system can be found at

Education Minnesota will be working with the new board members as they oversee this transition and undertake the work of establishing the rules that will guide Minnesota’s new tiered licensure system.
Education Issues Specialist Sara Ford contributed to this article.

Who does what under the current licensing system:

Board of Teaching

  • Develop and maintain Teacher Code of Ethics
  • Handle teacher license discipline matters
  • Establish licensure rules
  • Approve teacher preparation programs
  • Make determinations regarding special permissions

MDE licensing

  • Issue and renew licenses
  • Make licensing determinations
  • Administer STAR Report
  • Develop Teacher Supply and Demand Report