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

In order to serve the whole state of Montana, only one application from a district may be eligible for admission during each fiscal year. Applications submitted by September 1 will be given priority.

  • The school district or special education cooperative must have advertised the special education vacancy statewide on the Montana Jobs-for-Teachers website for a minimum of one month and provide documentation to that effect.
  • The district must state that no special education endorsed applicants applied for the position.
  • The candidate must hold a Class 1 or 2 Montana Teaching Certificate and have been offered a contract for the advertised special education teaching position.
  • All candidates admitted to the project need a mentor for their first year and the district should identify the mentor. The mentor should have three years of teaching in special education and have completed training in mentoring which can be through their school district. If there is no mentor available within the district, then arrangements to locate a mentor will be made with the Project Coordinator.
  • The candidate must complete their special education endorsement within three years of their project acceptance date. This includes the program requirement of student teaching in their own classroom.
  • Candidates admitted to the project must hold a special education teaching position in Montana public schools for two years after obtaining the special education endorsement.

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

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

Submit the following documents to:

  • Completed application form
  • Completed participation agreement form signed by all stakeholders
  • Letter from the candidate describing their teaching experience and commitment to teaching in the school
  • Letter from school district or special education cooperative verifying the applicant has been offered a contract
  • Copy of the position advertisement
  • Copy of Montana Teaching Certificate:  Class 1 or Class 2
  • Copies of unofficial transcripts from all universities the applicant has attended that show the semester of student teaching and degree or degrees
  • Plan of Study from the participating Institution of Higher Education, signed by the advisor

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 1 to be given priority consideration. 

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 OPI Special Education Endorsement Project brochure.


OPI Quick Links

Participating Institutions of Higher Education


Carroll College
Ms. Kathleen Gilboy


Montana State University Billings
Dr. Susan Gregory


University of Montana
Dr. Trent Atkins


Dr. Morgen Alwell


The University of Montana Western

Ms. Kathy Shipman
Office:   406-496-4852
Cell:       406-925-0225


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