Getting Help with a Teacher Certification Sanction
If you’ve received a letter regarding an administrative complaint, that means you’ve been investigated for misconduct as an educator. The Commissioner of Education found cause to discipline or sanction your Florida Educator Certificate. The letter should list information regarding charges. They could also include a legal “notice of reasons.” This can be a frustrating and frightening event for your career requiring specific steps to assure your rights.
You don’t have to go this one alone. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. Chances are, you are in jeopardy of losing your job, especially if you work in a public or charter school that requires the certification. There may also be additional disciplinary measures imposed by the direct employer. Teacher Certification Sanction is a separate action enforced by the State Commissioner. In all cases, understanding the charges, the process and how you can be protected is critical.
What to Do When a Complaint is Filed Against You
There are various kinds of charges that can lead to a complaint for sanction being filed against a teacher in Florida. The Florida Department of Education discusses possible Types of Misconduct on their site. These vary from physically harming a student to falsifying or cheating on documents and exams, interfering with a student’s ability to learn, discrimination and inappropriate behavior toward coworkers. The full Principles of Professional Conduct can be found on the FLDOE site.
Regardless of how early in the process you are, the first thing to do is read through the charges to determine to what you’re being accused. You might already have a heads-up regarding these charges, though not necessarily in all cases. There is a procedure that must be followed carefully when anyone files a complaint against a teacher in Florida. Responding to it, appealing it and abiding by a final judgement also require careful and deliberate actions.
It’s important to know your rights in every circumstance, and an experienced attorney can help you navigate your best legal options. Finding a law group that can lead you through the process should be a priority as soon as possible. In fact, the FLDOE affirms your right to have an attorney present for all DOE proceedings. Once you retain a law group, the remaining communications will go through them.
What Are My Legal Rights and Options Regarding Teacher Certification Sanction?
The list of choices in the Elections of Rights form outline four specific choices in your initial response to a complaint against your teacher certification.
- Formal Hearing- Used to dispute the charges levied in the administrative complaint.
- Informal Hearing- Used to admit the allegations; however, additionally used to bring your case before the Education Practices Commission with the goal to reduce or eliminate a penalty levied against you or your certification.
- Settlement Agreement- Does not admit or deny allegations; however, is utilized to negotiate an agreement between you and the Department regarding an appropriate penalty for the original grievance. There is no guarantee of the Department accepting a settlement, but it can present an option to protect your certification or mitigate the damage to your career and reputation.
- Surrender-You could agree to a non-contested and permanent surrender of your certification. This is a final resort choice with great ramifications. It’s also a possible option for specific types of complaints, in which more damage would be done if the charges were presented before the full EPC panel. Surrender could also be used as an involuntary court-ordered penalty presented with the Final Order.
Understanding the process and knowing the best options through which to respond cannot be undervalued when your career and source of income are at stake. Contact the Tison Law Group to make sure you know your rights and develop the right strategy regarding teacher certification sanction.