HF 1742 / SF 1965

Minnesota’s physical and mental health professional-to-student ratios are among the most dismal in the United States. Given our expanding opportunity gaps and our students reporting deeply distressing physical and social-emotional needs, Minnesota’s education system is in desperate need of more school counselors, licensed school nurses, school psychologists and school social workers. School psychologists across the state of Minnesota hold serious concerns about the critical shortages in student support personnel and the impact of these shortages on students’ access to quality education. Therefore, the Minnesota School Psychology Association (MSPA) is offering this written testimony to express our strong support for student support personnel aid in HF1742/SF1965. 


The broad range of skills and expertise that licensed student support professionals bring to the communities we serve is essential to our duty to meet students’ complex educational needs. For our education system to nurture well-rounded and healthy students, we need to provide them a supportive environment so they can effectively access instruction and grow in core subjects such math and reading. Given the impact of the pandemic on top of the existing needs of our students and families, our need for student support personnel is more critical than ever before. These staff members bring essential expertise to our schools as physical and mental health providers and play pivotal roles in linking our families and communities to the educational experiences of our students. 

Due to ongoing shortages in positions, available personnel, and training programs, Minnesota is extending its student support personnel well beyond capacity, resulting in a reality where we are constantly responding to problems that could have otherwise been prevented. Minnesota’s schools are forced to treat symptoms instead of healing the source which exacerbates harm and ultimately costs Minnesotans more money. Our state’s failure to equip schools with the personnel necessary to address the systemic challenges of education is damaging our communities, and our most vulnerable families are taking on the biggest burden. Providing an appropriate education to every student in Minnesota requires expertise and resources on a scale that dignifies the size and scope of our educational needs.

The Minnesota School Psychologists Association urges our legislators to support HF1742/SF1965 to provide funding for additional positions and a stronger workforce pipeline of student support personnel.

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  • 17 Dec 2020 7:28 PM | Anne Zaslofsky (Administrator)

    The Legislative Committee would like to share this great resource from the Washington State Association of School Psychologists: 

    Self-Advocacy Toolkit.pdf

  • 18 Mar 2019 1:57 PM | Anne Zaslofsky (Administrator)

    PRESIDENT’s Proposed FY20 Budget Presents Challenges for Public Education System

    NASP issued an immediate press release on March 12, 2019

    The proposal has an 8.5 billion cut to federal education funding and eliminates 29 programs.

    Area’s of concern include:  Underfunding Title I and IDEA, Eliminating The Student Support And Academic Enrichment Grant (ESSA, Title IV Part A), Expanding School Choice Options, Eliminating Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and Propose Cuts to Medicaid.


    Please join NASP’s advocacy by contacting your Congress people to ensure that FY 20 federal appropriations maintain critical investments in education to provide a high-quality public education, in an environment that is safe and supportive for all students.

    Respectfully submitted by MSPA Legislative Committee

    Sally A. Baas  &  Marilyn Leifgren Co-Chairs.

  • 18 Mar 2019 9:12 AM | Anne Zaslofsky (Administrator)
    Dear Neighbors,
    I’m grateful for the constituents who continue to come to the State Capitol to advocate for issues they are passionate about. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with Aline and Marcia, two school psychologists in our community.

  • 20 Feb 2019 11:00 AM | Anne Zaslofsky (Administrator)

    Please see Our Lobbyist, BRAD LUNDELL’S Blog at


    ABOUT ME… Executive Director of Schools for Equity in Education, a 58-member consortium of school districts in Minnesota who are dedicated to the principle that students should receive equitable access to a quality education regardless of where they live in Minnesota.

    Here’s just a sample…


    Special Education Hearing.  There has been a lot of discussion around the special education issue both in terms of funding shortfalls and paperwork and procedural burdens early this legislative session.  Improving the special education formula is on almost every--if not all--platforms of the major education lobbying group.  The growing amount of revenue being diverted from districts' general funds to pay for special education costs that exceed their special education formula revenue has indeed reached a level that is untenable.

    The New Ulm school district, led by Superintendent Jeff Bertrang and Special Services Coordinator Irina Soboleva, took a long look at procedures they believe add to teachers' paperwork burden but add little to the education product delivered to students qualifying to special education.  The results of New Ulm's work found its way into a series of bills that the Senate E-12 Finance and Policy Committee heard today.

    The first bill up was 
    SF 749, a bill authored by Senator Gary Dahms, that would eliminate the requirement that school districts must offer parents a conciliation conference prior to a dispute resolution conference.

    EMAIL BRAD!          brad.lundell@schoolsforequity.org

    Advocate for School Psychology!

    March 5th    2019 Day at the Hill  

    41 Sherburne Ave, St Paul, MN 55103 (Education Minnesota Building)

     More information at:  https://www.mspaonline.net/news/7153780

  • 17 Sep 2018 9:04 AM | Anne Zaslofsky (Administrator)

    On September 12, Senator Merkley (D-OR) and Congresswoman Clark (D-MA) introduced S.3427/H.R.6775, the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act. If enacted, this bill would address the critical shortage of school psychologists across the country, with opportunities for increased funding in high-need areas. Please take a moment to call and/or write to your members of Congress through our Advocacy Action Center on this critical issue and urge them to support this bill.

    If you have a couple of minutes today, can you please call (most effective!) or write your legislators to let them know the importance of this bill on professional shortages in YOUR state?!  Here is the link:  http://cqrcengage.com/naspweb/home?4 

  • 6 Sep 2018 7:29 AM | Anne Zaslofsky (Administrator)

    Quick survey

    The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) has convened a working group of national organizations to examine existing policies and practices related to the identification of students with specific learning disabilities. (NASP is a part of this working group).  Currently, NCLD is looking to collect information from school psychologists to better understand the processes that states and districts use to identify students with learning disabilities for IDEA services.   If you have a few minutes, please take a moment and respond to this SURVEY. Your input will be incredibly valuable to the work of NASP and MSPA moving forward. 

    If you have specific questions you may reach out to Kelly Vaillancourt (kvaillancourt@naspweb.org) NASP Director, Policy and Advocacy or Marilyn Leifgren (mlefgren@gmail.com) MSPA Legislative Co-Chair.  Please share the survey link with other school psychologists in your state. We would like to get as many responses as possible!

    Thank you so much for your consideration!   

    MSPA Legislative Committee 

  • 11 Jun 2018 5:06 PM | Anne Zaslofsky (Administrator)

    Click here to send your member of Congress a letter regarding the critical shortage of school psychologists!

  • 17 May 2018 6:04 PM | Anne Zaslofsky (Administrator)

    Governor Dayton’s one-time Emergency School Aid for schools across Minnesota:   A Call to Action

    MSPA’s mission and vision reflect our continual commitment to all our students, families/caregivers, and schools to provide the best possible education for our future.  School psychologists join with our education colleagues in advocating for passage of the $137.9 million in one-time Emergency School Aid for schools across Minnesota.

    Please Watch:  Governor Requests Emergency School Aid

    Voting is expected to take place this week!

    Please call/contact your state House and Senate elected officials today and urge them to support and pass the $137.9 million in one-time Emergency School Aid for schools across Minnesota.   

    Who Represents me?    Link to MN Legislature (just enter your zip code)

    Thank you for your advocacy!

    Dr. Sally Baas and Marilyn Leifgren Co-Chairs and MSPA Legislative Team

  • 11 Mar 2018 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    The tragic shooting deaths of 17 students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida have prompted lawmakers and commentators to recycle several proposals for countering the all too familiar mass killing of children and educators in American schools.

    Some GOP lawmakers in Minnesota believe arming educators is a solution -- and have authored bills in the House and Senate to do just that.

    House File 3286 and Senate File 3116 are NOT solutions. Educators don't need guns in schools, we need time and resources.


  • 6 Mar 2018 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    The Minnesota School Psychologist Association (MSPA) represents licensed School Psychologists working in Minnesota public, private, and charter schools. School psychologists are uniquely qualified education specialists providing direct educational, behavioral, and mental health services for children and youth, as well as working with families, school administrators, educators, and other professionals to create supportive learning and social environment for all students.

    MSPA Mission

    MSPA provides school psychologist with leadership, support, legislative advocacy, and professional training to meet the needs of Minnesota children and youth.


    School psychologists will serve as effective leaders in supporting the learning and mental health of children and youth in Minnesota.

    MSPA Legislative Priorities for 2018-2019

    The purpose of the 2018-2019 legislative platform is to support the Mission and Vision of MSPA by establishing the legislative agenda for the upcoming legislative sessions. MSPA has established three critical priority areas for 2018-2019.

    Safe and Successful Schools

    School Psychologists are uniquely positioned to advocate for evidence-based initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels. Today’s schools are expected to play a critical role in crisis prevention and intervention (Stein & Wong, 2014, McDermott, Duffy, Percy, Fitzgerald, & Cole, 2013). As demonstrated in recent school-associated crisis events, schools are integral to overall community crisis response. When a crisis occurs, schools must have comprehensive school safety and crisis response plans and teams in place. These plans and teams address all aspects of crisis preparedness – prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery (U.S. Department of Education, 2013). Creating safe and successful schools is fostered through collaboration among school staff, community-based service providers, community, caregivers, and stakeholders toward a comprehensive public health approach (cite when released - tomorrow). In creating safe and successful schools, MSPA has endorsed and implemented training of approximately 300 School Psychologists using the National Association of School Psychologist (NASP) PREPaRE Model based upon research and culturally-informed curriculum, and training. This training is designed for educators and other school-employed mental health professionals committed to improving and strengthening prevention, intervention, and recovery (Brock, Nickerson, Louvar Reeves, Connolly, Jimerson, Pesce, and Lazzaro, 2016). The PREPaRE Model is foundational to the implementation of training and implementation for a state-wide crisis response team. Training will assist Minnesota educators, students, families and communities through continuous and sustainable crisis and emergency preparedness, response, and recovery planning.

    MSPA further advocates for the following comprehensive school safety policies and practices:
    • team training and collaboration with Specialized Instructional Support
    Professionals (SISP) and school administrators to allow for delivery of a full
    range of services and effective school-community partnership;
    • effective, positive school discipline that functions with efforts to address school

    Effective school discipline:
    • is viewed within the context of reinforcing positive behaviors;
    • safeguards the well-being of all students and staff;
    • employs culturally responsive practices;
    • incorporates care-giver and family unit involvement.
    • Professional development to increase knowledge and capacity in creating,
    supporting, and sustaining trauma-informed schools and suicide prevention.

    Shortages in School Psychology

    The vision of the Minnesota School Psychologist Association is that all children and youth thrive in school, at home, and throughout life. Minnesota continues to face a critical shortage of practicing school psychologists, most notably in greater Minnesota. This critical shortage has the potential to significantly undermine the availability of high quality and comprehensive school psychological services to students, caregivers, and schools. Shortages can include both an insufficient supply of qualified school psychologist as well as an insufficient number of positions to meet the needs of students.

    Contributing factors to the shortages include:
    • shortage of qualified faculty for school psychology training programs
    • difficulty attracting graduates in greater Minnesota or where position vacancies
    occur consistently
    • difficulties retaining qualified school psychologists
    • shortage of approved internships and qualified internship supervisors
    • limited availability of racial-ethnic, cultural, and linguistically diverse school psychologists

    In a 2016 national NASP survey conducted by Minnesota School Psychologist Dan Hyson and colleagues, only 13% identified as racial or ethnically diverse and only 14% reported involvement in bilingual or multilingual service delivery. There is no such data available regarding Minnesota’s school psychologists.

    MSPA further advocates for the following action steps:
    • implement a comprehensive School Psychology role that aligns with the NASP Practice Model. A significant barrier to retention is burnout or being confined to a narrow role. Given a more comprehensive role reduces this concern (Protor & Steadman, 2003).
    • provide and support opportunities for obtaining high quality professional
    • advocate!

    • make concerted efforts at recruiting culturally and linguistically diverse graduate students, practitioners, and faculty.
    • provide a pathway to full licensure for highly-qualified school psychologist who have been trained according to field standards and will help to meet the needs of students in schools, but how have not graduated from NASP-approved programs.


    Minnesota Schools are becoming increasingly diverse and segregated with wide and persistent academic achievement gap. Minnesota has more than 200 schools in which students of color make up 90 percent or more of the enrollment. In these schools, there is a higher chance of higher rates of poverty and lower achievement rates on standardized testing then in more diverse schools or schools with concentrations of white students. (Magan, 2017). MSPA is committed to advancing policies and practices that meet the needs of all students. All students – whatever their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, religion, gender identification, gender expression, or sexual orientation – are entitled to an equitable and high quality educational environment. This includes supporting students with diverse backgrounds by using culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy, including delivery in the language that best meets the students’ needs. In addition, schools implementing high-quality multi-tiered systems of support, which includes strong core curriculum in academics and social emotional and behavioral domains, as well as evidence-based interventions for students needing more support are likely to meet the needs of all of their students more effectively than those that do not focus on these core instructional strategies. Schools are expected to provide effective and comprehensive supports and services to help these students succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally (NASP, 2017). MSPA is committed to ensuring that all children and youth receive an appropriate public education.

    To this end, MSPA further advocates for sustained advocacy on the following components:
    • Disproportionality. The Minnesota Department of Education continues to identify disproportionate representation in special education among our Indigenous and African American populations. MSPA membership are encouraged to access the Promoting Fairness Manual at https://www.uwrf.edu/CSP/ReducingBias.cfm and the NASP Position Statement at http://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publication/resources/diversity/disproportionality

    • Cultural humility is a continuous journey of personal and professional self-reflection, self-critique, curiosity, and inquiry, as lifelong learners. Several initiatives include increasing Mid-Winter conference presentations, addition of the MSPA board diversity committee, and dissemination of resources that address diversity issues (Tervalon, Murray-Farcia, 1998).
    • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning Youth. School psychologist are ethically obligated to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity for the development and expression of their personal identity in a school climate that is safe, accepting, and respectful of all person and free from discrimination, harassment, violence, and abuse. (NASP, 2017) MSPA monitors and responds to pertinent state legislative initiatives and support those which improve the lives of LGBTQ students.

    Further initiatives include disseminating professional research, resources, and work groups to build and maintain communication and collaboration with membership and allied organizations.

    • Social Justice. In 2017, the NASP Policy and Legislative platform stated NASP is committed to ensuring that all students-whatever their race, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender (including identification and expression), sexual orientation, disability status, language proficiency, or immigration status-receive a high quality public education in a positive, safe, supportive, and inclusive educational environment that is free of bullying, harassment, discrimination, and violence and promotes student learning.

    Respectfully submitted by the MSPA Legislative Committee:
    Dr. Sally A. Baas, MSPA Presiden, Legislative Co-Chair

    Annie Hansen, MSPA Immediate Past President

    Samantha Bialozynski

    Marilyn Leifgren, Legislative Co-Chair

    Julene Nolan, President Elect

    Marcia Sytsma

    Kimberly Adams, NASP Delegate

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