College of Education

OPI Special Education Endorsement Project

General Information


The OPI Special Education Endorsement Project began in 1987 to address the shortage of special education teachers in rural Montana. 


Criteria for Acceptance

  • The school district or special education cooperative has advertised a special education vacancy statewide on the Montana Jobs-for Teachers website for a minimum of one month:
  • The district must state that no special education endorsed applicants applied for the position.
  • The teacher holds a current Class 1 or Class 2 Montana Teaching Certificate.
  • The teacher has been offered a contract for the advertised special education teaching position.
  • The teacher must complete their special education endorsement within three years of their project acceptance date.  This also includes one semester of student teaching in their current classroom.
  • The teacher must participate in the online e-Mentoring for Student Success program administered through the New Teacher Center.
  • The teacher must hold a special education teaching position in a Montana public school for two years after obtaining the special education endorsement.

Documents to Submit:

  • Completed application form.
  • Completed participation agreement form signed by all stakeholders.
  • Copy of position advertisement.
  • Copy of the applicant’s Montana Teaching Certificate:  Class 1 or Class 2.
  • Copies of unofficial transcripts from all universities the applicant has attended.
  • A plan of study from the participating college the applicant plans to attend.

Stipends are available to teachers accepted into the project to offset the cost of tuition and fees and are dispersed based on the number of credits completed during a semester.


Applications to the OPI Special Education Project will be reviewed in the order in which they are submitted, as there is limited availability for places in the project.  Applications must be submitted by September 15 to be given priority consideration.


Once accepted, the teacher will be required to sign a contract with OPI that stipulates the following:

  • Should the teacher fail to complete the required coursework to obtain the special education endorsement within three years from the date of the Agreement, the teacher will be required to repay the stipends to OPI.
  • Should the teacher fail to complete the required two years of service in a Montana school, the teacher will repay all sums paid by the OPI under the Agreement.

Mail completed application to:


OPI Special Ed Endorsement Project
Rene’ Rosell Yarbrough, Project Coordinator

Montana State University Billings
Montana Center on Inclusive Education

1500 University Drive
Billings, MT 59101-0245


Further information about the project is available in the brochure.



Participating Institutions

The following college/universities participate in the OPI Special Education Endorsement Project:


Carroll College

Ms. Kathleen Gilboy



University of Great Falls
Ms. Angel Turoski


Montana State University Billings
Dr. Susan Gregory


University of Montana
Dr. Trent Atkins


Dr. Morgen Alwell


Univ. of Montana Western

Dr. Vikki Howard


*Always contact the school's Admissions Office regarding admission and registration requirements.