As an educator, you have many ethical responsibilities, and ethical misconduct is one of the easiest ways to jeopardize your credentials. In this post, you’ll learn more about what constitutes ethical misconduct, get details on the disciplinary action process for California educators, and find out when to seek help from a lawyer.
Disciplinary Process Overview
Two different groups are involved in the disciplinary process. The Commission on Teacher Credentialing establishes preparation and licensing standards for public school teachers. The Committee of Credentials, on the other hand, is the disciplinary review committee that evaluates cases of ethical misconduct for public school teachers and makes recommendations for disciplinary action when necessary.
When a teacher or educator is accused of ethical misconduct, the Committee reviews the allegations and recommends disciplinary actions to the Commission when warranted. The Commission then communicates the recommendation to the educator.
Reasons for Disciplinary Action
There are many reasons why an educator may be subjected to disciplinary action. Common reasons for action include sexual misconduct, failure to fulfill contract requirements, recruiting students as customers to a business they run, subverting a licensing exam, and falsely reporting expenditures for educational programs.
Educators can also face disciplinary action against their credentials if they conceal a conviction, criminal allegation, or other pending noncriminal investigations against them. Keep in mind that an educator who is disciplined by their school could also receive additional recommendations for disciplinary action by the Committee.
Common Investigation Procedures
If the Commission is notified that an educator has committed an act of misconduct, the Committee will begin an investigation.
The type of offense, its severity, and the degree to which the action relates to teaching are all important factors the Committee considers before determining disciplinary action. They may also consider how recently the actions occurred, whether the educator has complied with court rulings, and whether the accused educator has provided evidence that they have sought rehabilitation or taken steps to change their behavior.
It is important to remember that if you are accused of misconduct, the burden of proof lies with you. You will have the opportunity to tell your side of the story to the Committee, but you must provide evidence to support your case.
When Licensure is Revoked
In serious cases, the Commission will automatically revoke an educator’s credentials. These include any sex offenses (Education Code Section 44010), narcotic offenses (Education Code Section 44011), or declaration of insanity by a federal or state court.
In less severe cases, the educator might receive a written warning stating that if they repeat the behavior in question, their license may be suspended or revoked. In more severe scenarios, the Commission may suspend the educator’s license temporarily, during which time the teacher cannot work in a position that requires a license. If their license is revoked, the educator is forbidden to work in a position that requires certification unless the Commission reinstates their license. If your license is revoked, you may apply to have it reinstated after a year.
What to Do If You Are Under Investigation
There are several things you can do to help your case if you are under investigation for misconduct. Start by submitting letters of recommendation from any supervisors, colleagues, or employers who have knowledge of the alleged misconduct and can speak to your character.
In addition, you should plan to provide evidence of rehabilitation (such as a letter describing the changes you have made), letters on letterhead from counselors or employers, or other proof of efforts toward self-improvement. If the allegation is regarding a criminal record that has been expunged, bring documentation. Psychological testing or a mental status examination by a clinical psychologist may also help if it is relevant to the allegations.
Whether you have been accused of misconduct and disagree with the Committee’s recommendations, or your license has been suspended or revoked, you should be working with a lawyer. When you need proven teacher credential defense, California lawyer Scott J Harris can help.
Contact us for a free consultation at 323-794-0701.
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.