California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

Students knowing the right answer

If you are applying to become a teacher in California, or if you already have a license, you are familiar with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). Also known as the Commission, the CTC is responsible for preparing, certifying, and taking disciplinary action against educators in California.

With such sweeping authority over the careers of educators and would-be teachers in the state, individuals are understandably intimidated by the CTC. Despite its immense power over teachers’ livelihoods, the Commission does have its limits on what it can do, and teachers are not without their due process rights when facing the Commission.

The CTC’s Purpose and Mission

The Commission’s reason for existence is simple: to ensure that students in California receive the highest quality education possible by verifying that the teachers instructing them are of the greatest caliber. 

To achieve this mission, the Commission screens applicants who are seeking a teaching credential and investigates complaints and allegations of misconduct against existing teachers.

Teachers have immense influence over their students. A good teacher can inspire students to look beyond what they perceive to be their limits and reach new heights of achievement. Conversely, a teacher who abuses their position can harm a child’s development and set that child up for a lifetime of struggle and challenges.

The Commission, therefore, takes its role in the California education system seriously. By extension, aspiring and existing teachers respect the Commission’s role in their careers.

Important Facts to Know About the Commission

Organized in 1970, the CTC prides itself on being the country’s oldest autonomous state standards board. The CTC consists of 19 members. Fifteen of these members are voting members, and the remaining four are ex-officio members who do not vote.

The members themselves come to the Commission from a variety of sources. The Governor of California appoints 14 members, six of whom are classroom instructors. The remaining eight governor-appointees include: 

  • A school administrator
  • A school board member
  • A school counselor
  • A higher-education faculty member from a school that instructs teachers
  • Four members of the public

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction serves as the 15th voting member.

The four non-voting members are from the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, the Regents of the University of California, the California State University, and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

Members serve four-year terms and are not paid for their service on the Commission.

The Commission’s Role in Credentialing Teachers

One of the Commission’s primary roles is to investigate and assess applicants for teaching credentials in the state. A person may obtain various teacher credentials, depending on where they want to teach and the subject matter in which they want to instruct.

In general, though, applicants looking to become licensed teachers in California must:

  • Possess at least an accredited bachelor’s degree
  • Demonstrate basic skills and knowledge of the relevant subject matter they want to teach
  • Complete a U.S. Constitution course
  • Complete a teacher preparation program and receive a favorable recommendation from that program’s director

Overall, it can take the Commission up to 50 days to approve an application for teaching credentials.

In reviewing applicants, the Commission also looks into the character and fitness of applicants to teach. Criminal convictions, falsified records, and allegations of abuse are just some of the circumstances that can delay a person’s application or cause the Commission to deny the application outright. 

For instance, an applicant applying for teaching credentials will have their application denied if they have a conviction for a sexual offense committed against a minor.

Disciplinary Powers and Procedures of the Commission

Teachers and administrators who receive their credentials do not escape the jurisdiction of the Commission. The Commission can investigate teachers and may discipline them for misconduct. Some of the more common reasons why the Commission investigates teachers include:

  • Conviction of a crime, such as a DUI
  • Allegations of physical or sexual abuse committed against a student
  • Substance abuse concerns
  • Suspension for more than 10 days or dismissal from employment

When an investigation is initially opened, the Commission will usually ask the teacher to submit a written statement explaining the situation. The CTC may also ask for supporting documentation.  You should consult an attorney before submitting information.  During the process, you may also be given the right to an informal hearing and interview with Members of the Committee on Credentialing.  After the review by the Committee on Credentialing, a recommendation about the status of the case will be made. 

After an Investigation

Once the Commission has looked into the allegation through the Committee on Credentialing, it will issue a notice of its intended disciplinary action. The Commission can:

  • Recommend no discipline at all and terminate the investigation
  • Publicly or privately reprimand the teacher
  • Suspend the teacher’s credentials
  • Revoke the teacher’s license

Before the Commission takes any action, the teacher has the right to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. At this hearing, the teacher can present evidence and testify on their behalf. The judge will then issue a recommendation of discipline, which the Commission generally follows.

If your license is revoked, you must generally wait at least one year from the date of revocation before you can apply to have your credentials reinstated. There is a packet you must complete and submit — along with supporting documentation and a fee — in order to apply for reinstatement. 

The Commission places the burden on the teacher seeking reinstatement to show that they are rehabilitated and deserve to have their credentials restored.

How a Teacher Credential Defense Lawyer Can Help You

The Commission can significantly affect your career. When the Commission decides to take adverse action against your credentials or your application, you have a limited ability to challenge that decision alone. But an experienced and seasoned teacher credential defense law firm can help you effectively protect your rights and your career.

S J Harris Law helps both applicants and current teachers in California challenge negative actions from the Commission, including denial of credentials and suspension or revocation of your teaching license. If the CTC has taken action against you, our firm can determine your legal options and fight to restore your reputation.

To learn more about how we can help you secure your career, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with us today.

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When dealing with these complex issues, you need legal representation that has a long track record of success in these types of cases. Scott Harris and the rest of our team at S J Harris Law will be ready to help you pursue any option available that allows you to keep your license and continue working, no matter what industry you are in.


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