What Pre-Employment Affidavits Does the Texas Education Agency Require?

The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC), a division of the Texas Education Agency (TEA), is the state agency that regulates education professionals as well as handles complaints, investigations, and disciplinary proceedings. Part of the TEA’s function is to collect and review any pre-employment affidavits that applicants must submit as part of their employment applications for certain educational positions. Failure to submit required pre-employment affidavits, falsifying affidavits, or adverse information reported on these affidavits can result in denial of employment and disciplinary action against existing teachers and other education professionals. If you have questions about your rights in conjunction with pre-employment affidavits, contact a teacher license defense attorney for help. 

Mandatory Pre-Employment Affidavits

Tex. Ed. Code §21.009 requires that applicants for certain educational positions submit pre-employment affidavits disclosing whether they have ever been charged with, adjudicated for, or convicted of having an inappropriate relationship with a minor. An adjudication and conviction refer to a conviction, plea of guilty, or no contest (nolo contendre), probation, suspension, or deferred adjudication. On the other hand, a charge is a formal criminal charge as documented in a complaint, information, or indictment. Finally, an inappropriate relationship is the crime of an improper relationship between an educator and student under Tex. Pen. Code §21.12, and any other relationship the SBEC deems inappropriate. 

The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) maintains various sample pre-employment affidavits. Each covered employer may decide which affidavit is most appropriate to use. While TASB offers a notarized pre-employment form, an affidavit does not require the applicant’s signature to be notarized.

This requirement applies to individuals applying for any of the following positions:

  • teacher
  • teacher intern or trainee
  • librarian
  • educational aide
  • administrator
  • educational diagnostician
  • superintendent
  • audiologist
  • occupational therapist
  • physical therapist
  • physician
  • nurse
  • school psychologist or associate school psychologist
  • school counselor or licensed professional counselor
  • marriage and family therapist
  • social worker, or 
  • speech-language pathologist

Notably, applicants for substitute teachers are not required to submit these mandatory pre-employment affidavits, as substitute teachers are not covered positions under this code section. 

Furthermore, the pre-employment affidavit applies to any applicant for these positions with a school district, district of innovation, open-enrollment charter school, private school, regional education service center (ESC), or shared services arrangement. 

Under this code section, an applicant who discloses an allegation concerning an inappropriate relationship with a minor must disclose all relevant facts about the charge, adjudication, or conviction in the pre-employment affidavit. The applicant also must indicate whether the adjudicating body determined the charge to be true or false. If the potential employer determines, based on the information disclosed in the pre-employment affidavit, that the charge was false, then the potential employer may employ the applicant. 

Potential Consequences of Falsification or Positive Pre-Employment Affidavits

If a covered employer determines that an employee failed to disclose information on the required pre-employment affidavit, the employer has legal grounds to terminate the employee. Likewise, the SBEC may revoke an administrator’s certificate if it is reasonable to believe that the administrator hired an applicant for a covered position despite the knowledge that the applicant had been adjudicated or convicted of having an inappropriate relationship with a minor. 

Furthermore, the TEA’s stated disciplinary policies concerning educational professionals have several provisions that may apply to professionals with inappropriate relationships with students. First, under 19 Tex. Admin. Code §249.5, SBEC “ may pursue disciplinary proceedings and sanctions based on convictions of felonies and misdemeanors as provided by the Texas Education Code (TEC), §21.060; the Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 53, and this chapter.” However, disciplinary actions require only proof that a violation of the law occurred by a preponderance of the evidence, which means that they do not require criminal adjudication, conviction, deferred adjudication, or similar court proceedings. 

Educators also must exhibit good moral character, act as good role models for students, and demonstrate fitness to serve as certified educators. As a result, criminal activity, dishonest or untruthful behavior, or abuse of students can lead to disciplinary proceedings. 

Likewise, §249.5(F) states that educators have positions of authority and extensive access to students when no other adults, and sometimes students, are present and may have confidential information that could allow them to exploit students. Therefore, educators must not cross the boundaries of teacher-student relationships. Any violation of that trust, such as soliciting or engaging in romantic or sexual relationships with any student or minor, can result in the permanent revocation of the educator’s license. 

Finally, §249.15(9)(L) specifically provides for disciplinary action by the SBEC for “conduct that involves inappropriate communication with a student . . . inappropriate professional educator-student relationships and boundaries, and otherwise soliciting or engaging in sexual conduct or a romantic relationship with a  student or minor.”

We Are Here to Help You Fight Back and Protect Your Educational License

Bertolino LLP’s teacher license defense lawyers can help you navigate the complaint process and gather the evidence you need to defend your license. In addition, we can fight back against the allegations that you are facing and work to clear your name. Call us today at (512) 515-9518 to reach the offices of Bertolino LLP, or contact us online.

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