Montana Administrative Register Notice 10-55-252 No. 18   09/24/2009    
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In the matter of the adoption of New Rule I pertaining to sign language interpreters





TO:  All Concerned Persons


1.  On July 30, 2009, the Board of Public Education published MAR Notice No. 10-55-252 pertaining to the public hearing on the proposed adoption of the above-stated rule at page 1205 of the 2009 Montana Administrative Register, Issue Number 14.


2.  The board has adopted New Rule I as proposed, but with the following changes from the original proposal, new matter underlined, deleted matter interlined:



            (3)  An employee who has not met the qualifications in (1), but who has demonstrated a competency level of 2.5 or higher on the EIPA or a score commensurate with a competency level of 2.5 or higher on the EIPA Pre-Hire Assessment and passed the written portion of the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment, may be assigned to provide educational sign language interpreting services.  Such individuals shall have three years, from date of initial assignment, or the effective date of this rule, to demonstrate competency as described in (1). 

            (4) remains as proposed.

            (5)  Employees who have met the requirements in (1) and who seek to remain eligible to work as educational sign language interpreters are responsible for documenting a completion of 12 clock hours of professional development and/or Office of Public Instruction (OPI) renewal units per calendar year related to the improvement of educational interpreting, performance, and knowledge skills.  Such individuals will provide documentation of completion to their employing school district, cooperative, or contracting agency.

            (6) remains as proposed.


3.  The board has thoroughly considered the comments and testimony received.  A summary of the comments received and the board's responses are as follows:


COMMENT #1:  Tiffany Harding, Supervising Interpreter for Montana School for the Deaf and Blind (MSDB) supported the standards and encouraged the board to consider developing a framework for mentorship, a training course, or a study plan so the state can maintain the necessary numbers of qualified interpreters.  MSDB suggested under (6) to recognize and approve the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) as a provider of continuing educational opportunities. 


            RESPONSE #1:  The board thanks this witness for her input and agrees with her testimony.  The board is currently working with other stakeholders who participated in the development of the rule, including the Montana Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (MRID), to devise an implementation plan for the rule.


            COMMENT #2:  A letter was received from Missy Grinnell, President of the Montana Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.  Ms. Grinnell expressed MRID's support for the rule and formally endorsed the guidelines, recognizing the need for this type of professional standard.


            RESPONSE #2:  The board thanks this witness for her input and appreciates her support.

            COMMENT #3:  Marilyn Pearson, former Assistant Director of Special Education for OPI, stated she supports the adoption of the proposed rule, with qualifications.  Under (3), Ms. Pearson stated she would like to remove the language "and passed the written portion of the Education Interpreter Performance Assessment" and replace it with the following language "or a score commensurate with a competency level of 2.5 or higher on the EIPA Pre-Hire Assessment."  This language was agreed upon by the Sign Language Interpreters Standards Workgroup, but was omitted from the proposed rule.  Ms. Pearson stated she would support the rule only as amended. 


            RESPONSE #3:  The board thanks this witness for her input and agrees with her testimony.  The board concurs that the amendment recommended by Ms. Pearson be made to New Rule I(3).


            COMMENT #4:  Ms. Pearson also stated that a few words needed to be added to (5).  These terms also were decided upon by the Workgroup, but omitted from the proposed rules.  She asked to add the word "twelve" spelled out, parentheses around the number 12 and the word "clock" for clarification purposes.  She also asked the acronym "OPI" be added to clarify the type of renewal units a certified interpreter needs to earn.


            RESPONSE #4:  The board thanks this witness for her input and agrees with her testimony.  The board amended (5) to add the word "clock" between the number "12" and "hours"; however, due to publishing rules adopted by the Secretary of State's office for administrative rules, the board cannot add the word "twelve" with the number in parentheses.  The full name "Office of Public Instruction" with the acronym has also been added.


            COMMENT #5:  Laurie Gerhardt, an interpreter for deaf students in the Livingston Schools, testified on her own behalf to oppose the rule as it is written.  Ms. Gerhardt stated that under the proposed language she is not minimally competent for being a public schools interpreter because she has never taken the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA).  Ms. Gerhardt asked both the EIPA and RID certification be recognized as proof of interpreter competency in order to allow for the largest possible pool of qualified interpreters from which schools can hire.  Ms. Gerhardt also provided a document showing that as of 2007, 32 states in the nation accept the RID, 22 of those accepting both the EIPA and RID.  She also pointed out only six states accept just the EIPA.  Mr. Meloy asked if the term "commensurate", as stated under (3), could be a way of stating RID is acceptable.  Ms. Pearson stated the term only applies to a score achieved on the EIPA Pre-Hire Assessment; it does not have to do with accepted certifying bodies since it does not appear in (1).


            RESPONSE #5:  The board thanks this witness for her comments, but respectfully disagrees with her testimony.  The Sign Language Interpreters Standards Workgroup discussed the inclusion of the RID exam as a recognized proof of interpreter competency during the development of the rule; however, the Workgroup felt the EIPA was better because it measures interpreting skills as they directly relate to the educational setting. 




/s/ Steve Meloy                                              /s/ Patty Myers

Steve Meloy                                                   Patty Myers

Rule Reviewer                                               Chairperson

                                                                        Board of Public Education


Certified to the Secretary of State September 14, 2009.


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