Military Spouses and Rights to Occupational Licenses Under

Historically, the Texas Board of Education (TEA) has licensed and regulated Texas teachers, principals, and other educators. As a result, the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC), a TEA division, has the authority to receive, investigate, and prosecute complaints against these licensed professional educators. 

An experienced educator’s license defense attorney can represent your interests in any disciplinary proceedings regarding alleged violations of the rules and laws governing veterinarians. We can review your case, explore your potential options, and work to resolve the matter reasonably. If you face disciplinary proceedings, you need a seasoned teaching license defense lawyer to protect your career. Strong legal representation can help you avoid harsh sanctions that adversely affect your reputation and career.

Understanding the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act

On January 5, 2023, President Joe Biden signed the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act into law as part of the 2022 Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act. The Act, which amends the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), requires states to offer reciprocity for occupational licenses issued for military spouses in other states. According to the Department of Defense, about 36% of spouses of active-duty military members require a state-issued license for their careers, which amounts to over a quarter of a million individuals. 

The Texas Federal Court Decision

A Texas federal court judge recently issued the first decision interpreting the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act. In his ruling, Judge Robert Pitman of the U.S. Texas Western District Court found that the TEA and SBEC violated the SCRA by refusing to recognize Hannah Magee Portee’s out-of-state school counselor credentials. The TEA’s refusal to offer reciprocity to Portee, the wife of an active-duty Air Force member, prevented her from getting a permanent job.  

Rather than recognizing Portee’s school counseling licenses from Missouri and Ohio, the TEA and SBEC found that Portee was ineligible to work as a counselor in Texas. Portee had worked as a substitute and elementary school counselor in those states in 2022 until she married, and her husband was stationed at Laughlin Air Base in January 2023. The TEA and SBEC advised Portee that she either had to comply with the state requirement that out-of-state residents use their counseling licenses continuously in the previous two years or take the Texas state certification test to qualify for state certification. 

In February, Portee became aware of the new SCRA provision and asked TEA officials whether it would apply to her situation. However, a state official advised her that the law did not apply to Texas. As a result, Portee filed suit in federal district court against Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, the TEA, and the SBEC.

The state argued that despite the SCRA, it had a right to decide who is qualified to be licensed and teach in Texas. It also claimed that the SCRA was inapplicable to the state and that Portee had no entitlement to due process concerning the decision, as the state was immune from lawsuits such as hers. 

The judge ruled that the TEA and SBEC’s treatment of the SCRA provision undermined the law’s intent by imposing narrow and arbitrary restrictions on the portability of occupational licenses for military spouses. It also had the practical effect of making it nearly impossible for many military spouses to use their hard-earned licenses. 

Pitman initially issued a temporary injunction that allowed Portee to get a substitute position as a school counselor. After the court’s ruling, she can apply for a permanent position, which offers better pay and benefits than a substitute position. 

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) also filed a statement in support of Portee, arguing that the SCRA only requires that an individual use a license at some point during the previous two years. The DOJ further argued that removing barriers to employment for military spouses is in the public interest. 


The recent Texas federal court decision regarding interpreting the Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act marks a significant milestone in ensuring fair treatment for military spouses seeking occupational licenses. The ruling, which found that the Texas Board of Education and State Board of Educator Certification violated the SCRA by refusing to recognize Hannah Magee Portee’s out-of-state school counselor credentials, highlights the importance of upholding the rights of military families. By granting Portee relief and emphasizing the law’s intent to facilitate license portability for military spouses, the court’s decision sets a precedent for promoting inclusivity and removing unnecessary barriers to employment. It underscores the necessity of comprehensive understanding and implementing federal laws to support military families, ensuring their sacrifices are met with the opportunities they deserve.

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Count on Bertolino LLP to Defend Your Teaching License 

If you have received a complaint that could adversely affect your educator’s license and career, you need an experienced teaching license defense attorney throughout any disciplinary proceedings. The stakes during these proceedings are very high, no matter the severity of the allegations against you. We will tirelessly defend you against these attacks on the credentials you have worked so hard to earn. Contact Bertolino LLP today at (512) 980-3751 or visit us online.

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