H. B. 2521

(By Delegates Williams and Mezzatesta)
[Introduced January 22, 2003; referred to the
Committee on Education then Finance.]

A BILL to amend article fourteen, chapter eighteen-b of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated section eleven, relating to establishing the school psychologist internship program; legislative findings and intent; program provisions and requirements; collaboration; policy; funding limitations; and service agreement.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That article fourteen, chapter eighteen-b of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated section eleven, to read as follows:
§18B-14-11. School psychologist internship program established.
(a) The Legislature recognizes and finds that:
(1) There is great potential for programs to assist local school districts with the provision of prevention strategies for at-risk students, crisis intervention services, and appropriate psychological services to prevent school violence;
(2) School districts often have difficulty providing a full range of psychological services for their students because of the lack of appropriately trained personnel, and that students would benefit from increasing both the quantity and quality of school psychologists in West Virginia;
(3) The knowledge and skills needed by school psychologists requires comprehensive and intensive graduate-level preparation, and the ability to respond to the diverse and complex needs of the students in our schools depends on the availability of adequate numbers of highly trained school psychologists;
(4) Because of the wide range of problems to which school psychologists must respond, carefully planned and supervised practice and experience are an essential part of their training, and the supervised internship experience may represent the most critical element in the preparation of school psychologists; and
(5) Under the close supervision and guidance of a credentialed and highly qualified school psychologist and in close cooperation with an approved university training program, an internship would provide a school psychology trainee with a full year of experience and advanced training in actual work with students, their families, and other school and community professionals.
(b) It is the intent of this section to establish the school psychologist internship program, to enable the prospective school psychologist to integrate, apply and advance the knowledge and skills introduced during graduate level courses and practice.
(c) To the extent that state funds are appropriated therefore, the state department of education, local school districts and Marshall university, or any other state institution of higher education with a "national association of school psychologists" accredited program, shall work cooperatively to implement the internship program in school psychology, which is hereby established in this section.
(d) The program shall:
(1) Provide an intensive and comprehensive year of supervised professional experience, and provide the opportunity for field and university supervisors to closely evaluate the professional competence of the intern and determine his or her preparedness and qualification to enter professional practice as a certified school psychologist by the state department of education;
(2) Provide a process for integrating, applying and expanding competencies learned throughout the graduate school experience, which competencies include:
(A) Collaborative problem-solving consultation;
(B) Assessment for intervention;
(C) Interventions;
(D) Skill development and training;
(E) Primary prevention strategies;
(F) Counseling, both individual and group;
(G) Crisis intervention services;
(H) Child advocacy; and
(I) Program evaluation;
(3) Offer training through the program on a full-time basis:
(A) With applied learning experiences;
(B) In an approved educational setting;
(C) During a course of at least a nine-month period with a minimum of twelve hundred hours;
(4) Provide for collaboration between the state department and a higher education institution that maintains full commitment to compliance with the guidelines and standards set forth by the state department for certification, and the national certification of school psychologists by the national association of school psychologists.
(e) The state department shall establish a policy to implement the provisions of this section. The policy shall provide for:
(1) A higher education faculty program coordinator for the program responsible to place interns, and serve as liaison among county administrative staff and field-based supervisors;
(2) A field-based supervisor for the intern with the ability to provide quality supervision;
(3) The state department to retain authority for final training site approval and the assignment of internships consistent with state fiscal responsibilities;
(4) The awarding of internships only for those school systems employing at least one school psychologist who has been approved as a supervisor by the school to which the intern will be assigned;
(5) Release from limited job responsibilities of supervisors for the purpose of completing internship responsibilities in place of compensation for their services;
(6) Interns to be paid at teacher salary levels commensurate with their level of experience and training: Provided, That benefits will be consistent with those articulated by county policy;
(7) Work release for interns for the purpose of attending required state and or higher education institution seminars and meetings;
(8) An application and approval process for selecting participants in the program;
(9) Candidate qualifications and eligibility requirements;
(10) County school system discretion in accepting or rejecting any placement;
(11) A formal written agreement between the state department, county school system and higher education institution specifying expectations and responsibilities of all parties; and
(12) Any other provision necessary to implement the purposes and intent of this section.
(f) A participant in the program shall agree in writing to provide public school psychological services in this state for a minimum of one year following completion of the internship program in return for the financial support provided by the state. The state department of education shall provide, by policy, a method for repayment of costs of the internship program by any participant who does not complete this instate service requirement following the program.
(g) Nothing in this section requires any appropriation or any specific amount of appropriation by the Legislature for the purposes specified in this section.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish the school psychologist internship program. The bill sets forth legislative findings and intent in support of the program and provides program provisions and requirements. It further requires collaboration between the state department of education and an institution of higher education for national certification of school psychologists. It requires the state department of education to establish a policy to implement the provisions of the section while providing that the Legislature is not required to appropriate funds to provide for the program.

This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.