For Immediate Release - February 24, 2014

State Streamlines Procedures for Private Occupational Schools

Changes include easier instructor approval process and a new timetable for license renewals

BOSTON – The Division of Professional Licensure (DPL) today announced several reforms to the licensing procedures for private occupational schools,streamlining the existing process for schools and strengthening consumer protections for students. The changes include a simpler instructor approval process, fewer required program approvals, and a new timetable for license renewals.

“Occupational schools provide valuable training for the future Massachusetts workforce,” said Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Undersecretary Barbara Anthony, who also serves as Chair of the Advisory Council on Private Occupational Schools. “These streamlined licensure procedures will help these schools focus on providing their students the fundamental education that they need to succeed in their respective trades and professions.”

“These changes are designed to simplify and clarify the licensing process for schools, so that they can more easily comply with the law and focus on training students for good jobs,” said DPL Director Mark Kmetz.  “At the same time, agency resources can be focused toward oversight and enforcement where necessary to ensure that students are getting what they pay for.” 

Under the new changes, private occupational schools will now be able to submit a two-page instructor approval and certification form that requires fewer attachments.  Previously, schools were required to complete a six-page form for each proposed instructor, accompanied by additional documentation including proof of trade letters and certified transcripts.In response to comments from schools that this approval process was cumbersome and delayed the hiring of instructors, DPL modified the new instructor approval process to be more concise.

Another key licensing reform involves the scope of programs subject to review and approval.  In the past, if a private occupational school was required to have a license, each of the school’s programs were subject to review and approval, regardless of whether all of they were occupational in nature.  Instead, DPL will limit its review, approval, and oversight to only the occupational programs offered by the school.

Finally, in coordination with the Office of the State Auditor, DPL has adjusted the license renewal timetable so that renewals can be madein a more efficient manner.  Specifically, licensed private occupational schools are now required to submit financial information to the State Auditor 90days in advance of the license expiration date, and to submit renewal applications to DPL 60days in advance of the license expiration date.  Previously, these renewal materials were due all at once, only 30days prior to the expiration of a school’s license.

These changes follow a comprehensive DPL review of existing regulations, policies, and procedures initiated after the licensing authority for private occupational schools was transferred from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to DPL in August 2012.  DPL is assisted by a 12-member Advisory Council on Private Occupational Schools, which reflects a wide range of expertise in occupational schools issues and concerns. Currently, there are more than 165 occupational schools licensed to operate at approximately 227 locations across Massachusetts.

DPL is a regulatory agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.  In addition to its responsibilities relating to private occupational schools, DPL is responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance and the integrity of the licensing process for more than 370,000 licensees in trades and professions under the jurisdiction of 31 boards of registration.For more information, or to file a complaint against a private occupational school or other licensee, visit www.mass.gov/dpl/schools.  Follow DPL on Twitter @MassDPL.

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