(a) Vice Chancellor for Administration shall appoint a selection panel comprised of individuals representing higher education, public education, and the community at large to select Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars who meet the eligibility criteria set forth in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) Eligibility for an Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars award shall be limited to students who meet the following criteria:
(1) Have graduated or are graduating from high school with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25 on a 4.0 scale;
(2) Have met the college algebra ready assessment standards and college readiness English, reading, and writing standards as established by the commission; and
(3) Agree to teach in a critical teacher shortage field at the elementary, middle or secondary level in a public school in the state pursuant to the provisions of §18C-4-3 of this code.
(c) To be eligible for an award, a non-citizen of the United States shall hold a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD), or work permit, issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
(d) In accordance with the rules of the commission, the Vice Chancellor for Administration shall develop criteria and procedures for the selection of scholarship recipients. The selection criteria shall reflect the purposes of this article and shall specify the areas in which particular efforts will be made in the selection of scholars as set forth in §18C-4-1 of this code. Selection procedures and criteria also may include, but are not limited to, the grade point average of the applicant, involvement in extracurricular activities, financial need, current academic standing and an expression of interest in teaching as demonstrated by an essay written by the applicant. These criteria and procedures further may require the applicant to furnish letters of recommendation from teachers and others. It is the intent of the Legislature that academic abilities be the primary criteria for selecting scholarship recipients.
(e) In developing the selection criteria and procedures to be used by the selection panel, the Vice Chancellor for Administration shall solicit the views of public and private education agencies and institutions and other interested parties. Input from interested parties shall be solicited by means of written and published selection criteria and procedures in final form for implementation and may be solicited by means of public hearings on the present and projected teacher needs of the state or any other methods the Vice Chancellor for Administration may determine to be appropriate to gather the information.
(f) The Vice Chancellor for Administration shall make application forms for Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars available to public and private high schools in the state and in other locations convenient to applicants, parents and others, and shall make an effort to attract students from low-income backgrounds, ethnic or racial minority students, students with disabilities, and women or minority students who show interest in pursuing teaching careers in mathematics and science and who are under-represented in those fields.