(a) It is the intent of the Legislature that the State of Alabama shall modify its policies relative to the certification of teachers to permit an expanded alternative certification program for prospective teachers for grades nine through 12. In addition to certificates issued pursuant to this chapter to persons graduating from approved teacher education programs, the State Board of Education shall adopt policies, procedures, rules, regulations, and/or standards authorizing an alternative certificate to be issued by the State Superintendent of Education to an individual person, regardless of whether such person is a graduate of an approved teacher education program, where:
(1) The person has earned a bachelor's or higher degree from a regionally accredited university or college; and
(2) The person has at least 24 months of professional or other experience or study in the field or related fields for which he or she is seeking certification; and
(3) The person is recommended to the State Board of Education for an alternative certificate by the State Superintendent of Education upon the recommendation of the city or county school superintendent in whose system such person shall be employed; and
(4) The person has demonstrated required satisfactory proficiency on any pre-certification examination requirements then existing for teacher candidates in the State of Alabama pursuant to The Alabama Education Improvement Act of 1991 (Acts 1991, No. 91-323).
(b) Any alternative certificate shall be valid for the period of time as shall be set by policies, procedures, rules, regulations, and/or standards which shall be adopted by the State Board of Education but in no event shall such period extend beyond three years from the date of issuance of the alternative certificate.
(c) Where a person has received an alternative certificate or certificates and has been employed for three consecutive years by one county or city school board, such person may be granted a teaching certificate issued by the State Superintendent of Education pursuant to Section 16-23-1, when:
(1) Approved by the State Superintendent of Education; and
(2) Approved according to policies, procedures, rules, regulations, and/or standards which shall be adopted by the State Board of Education. Such policies, procedures, rules, regulations, and/or standards shall require that the recipient of an alternative certificate successfully complete no more than the equivalent of twelve semester hours of college course work in education related courses, as may be determined by the State Board of Education based upon factors such as the recipient's individual educational background, prior to the issuance of a teaching certificate pursuant to Section 16-23-1.
(d) Any person granted a teaching certificate issued by the State Superintendent of Education pursuant to Section 16-23-1, following the receipt of an alternative certificate, as herein provided, shall be eligible to attain continuing service status pursuant to Chapter 24, of this title. Time served as a teacher pursuant to an alternative certificate shall be counted in determining continuing service status pursuant to Section 16-24-2.
(e) The State Superintendent of Education in cases of emergency when certified teachers, including teachers who may have received alternative certificates pursuant to this section, are not available may grant emergency certificates of the different kinds and grades, but any such emergency certificate shall not be valid for a period to exceed one year but shall expire at the end of the scholastic year for which it is issued, and such emergency certificate shall not be extended or renewed. Time served as a teacher pursuant to an emergency certificate shall not be counted in determining continuing service status pursuant to Section 16-24-2.
(f) Any alternative certificate issued pursuant to this section shall be limited to persons teaching grades nine through 12; provided, however, that an alternative certificate may be issued for persons teaching grades kindergarten through eight if limited to the subject areas of the fine arts and/or foreign languages.