How a Teacher Can Protect Their Certificate from an Accusation of Misconduct


Teachers must comply with several requirements to be awarded a teaching certificate. A teaching certificate allows the teacher to legally teach a subject at a particular level of school. In California, there are three types of teaching certificates that can be obtained, they are:

  • Multiple Subject Teaching Credential (to teach elementary school)
  • Single Subject Teaching Credential (to teach high school)
  • Education Specialist Instruction Credential (to teach special education)

Once a teacher obtains one or more of these licenses, then he or she is required to follow several requirements to maintain a teaching license. These requirements include things that occur inside and outside a school setting, including:

  • Illicit drug use
  • Criminal accusations such as DUI and domestic assault
  • Unlawful activity regarding school property
  • Sexual relations involving students

If a teacher is accused of one of the above crimes or other types of misconduct, then they can face an investigation, the potential loss of their teaching credential, and even criminal sanctions such as jail or prison time. If you are facing an accusation of misconduct, then it is important that you speak to an experienced professional license defense attorney right away.


When an accusation is made against a teacher, then potentially two separate proceedings can be initiated against the teacher: one with the criminal court and one with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. These proceedings will operate independently of one another but can have a significant impact on each other. If a criminal charge is filed against a teacher but is later dismissed or the teacher is found not guilty at trial, then this can greatly assist in defending misconduct proceedings with the state teaching board. 

It is important to note that a dismissal or not guilty verdict does not guarantee the same result with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The criminal court and licensing misconduct hearings operate under different legal standards. Guilt in a criminal court requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, while legal responsibility in an administrative hearing requires lower standards of proof, such as the preponderance of the evidence and/or clear and convincing evidence. It is important that you understand these differences and how they can affect the defense of your case on all fronts. The first thing a teacher should do to protect themselves if they are facing an accusation of misconduct or a crime is to call an experienced attorney.


The S.J. Harris Law Office is proud to offer FREE 30-minute consultations to all prospective clients. We understand that licensed professionals such as teachers prefer representation that values discretion and privacy. All conversations with our office will be protected by the attorney-client privilege even if you don’t hire us to represent you. At S.J. Harris Law, we put our focus into preserving three things; your license, your reputation, and your future. Let our experience go to work for you today. Call us at (310) 361-8585 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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This blog is meant to be informational. It is not meant to be all-encompassing legal advice. If you are facing a situation involving your professional license, seek counsel from a licensed attorney.

Author : Scott J Harris