Why a Teacher Might Want an Attorney When They First Are Accused by a Student
Reports of teachers being accused of misconduct by a student seem to be more prevalent in the news these days. Granted, many of these reports may be based in fact; however, regardless of whether the reports are fact or fiction, a teacher in this situation needs to contact an attorney right away. Innocent teachers may feel this course of action looks like a confession, but if you are accused by a student, you need legal counsel and protection.
Defining Teacher Misconduct
Like most professions, teachers have a code of ethics by which they must conduct themselves. Breaking any of the rules can result in serious consequences, including the loss of the teacher’s teaching certificate. The Florida Department of Education spells out teacher misconduct. If a teacher directly harms a student or commits an act that is detrimental to the education profession, he or she has committed an act of misconduct. Misconduct generally is something that happens on the school grounds; however, it can also happen away from school.
If a teacher is accused by a student of physical or sexual abuse of any type, this is considered misconduct. The school principal or school administrator should be notified in such situations. If the behavior is deemed criminal, such as in the case of rape, then law enforcement should be notified.
In addition, if a teacher knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, neglected, or abandoned by a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for a child’s welfare, they MUST report that knowledge or suspicion to the Department of Children and Families “Florida Abuse Hotline.” If a teacher fails to make this report, they can be charged with a third-degree felony.
Collateral Damage When Accused by a Student
Unfortunately, whether or not the charges are true or false, there is always collateral damage when a teacher is accused by a student of misconduct. Such accusations are usually sensational and get headlines. The court of public opinion can be demeaning, frightening, and unfair when a teacher is falsely accused.
In addition to unwanted publicity, there are issues with administrative leave until the accusations are dealt with. Your teaching license may be suspended, and other sanctions may be held over your head until the issue is resolved.
Hire the Right Attorney
Any teacher accused by a student of misconduct needs to contact an attorney with experience in these types of situations. Your attorney will help with negotiating a resolution and he or she will work to ensure that your rights are respected during the process.
Today’s world is full of strange circumstances. There are teachers who commit acts of misconduct with students and there are teachers who are accused by a student falsely. The best thing a teacher can do under these circumstances is hire an attorney as soon as possible.
The attorneys at Tison Law Group in Tampa, FL, have years of experience working in administrative and criminal law as well as professional license defense. Contact us for a complimentary consultation to help with your case. We are here to help in your time of need.