The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) is responsible for investigating and disciplining teachers and other educators for misconduct. SBEC also has the power to prohibit a teacher from teaching while they investigate allegations of misconduct, depending on how severe the allegations are.
Not all misconduct allegations lead to the loss of your teaching license or other types of discipline. However, some forms of misconduct, including a conviction for some crimes, can lead to the loss of your teaching license. If you lose your teaching license, you can no longer teach at a public school. When facing these types of allegations, getting legal representation by an experienced teaching license defense attorney can be vital to avoiding the extreme sanction of revocation of your teaching license.
Crimes Directly Related to the Duties and Responsibilities of the Education Profession
The SBEC states that conviction for criminal offenses directly related to the duties and responsibilities of the education profession can lead to discipline, including the revocation of your teaching certificate. 19 Tex. Admin. Code § 249.16 states that an offense directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of the education profession if:
- The offense is a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of a student or minor, parent of a student, fellow employee, or professional colleague
- The offense interferes with the orderly, efficient, or safe operation of a school district, campus, or activity
- The offense indicates impaired ability or misrepresentation of qualifications to perform the functions of an educator
Under Tex. Ed. Code § 21.060, these crimes include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Offenses involving moral turpitude
- Offenses involving physical or sexual abuse of a minor or student
- Other illegal conduct in which a victim is a minor or student
- Felony offenses involving the possession, transfer, sale, or distribution of or conspiracy to possess, transfer, sell, or distribute a controlled substance
- Offenses involving the illegal transfer appropriation, or use of school district funds or other district property
- Offenses involving an attempt by fraudulent or unauthorized means to obtain or alter a professional educator’s certificate or license
SBEC also considers the following specific crimes as being directly related to the duties and responsibilities of the education profession, which may fall into one of the categories listed above:
- Soliciting or engaging in sexual conduct or a romantic relationship with a student or minor
- Crimes that occur wholly or in part on school property or at a school-sponsored activity
- Two or more crimes that occur within 12 months that involve public intoxication operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, or disorderly conduct
- Felony offenses involving driving while intoxicated
Crimes Mandating Revocation of Teaching Certificates
A conviction or placement on deferred adjudication community supervision for some crimes will automatically result in the revocation of your teaching certificate under Tex. Ed. Code § 21.058. Furthermore, a school that receives notice that you have been convicted or placed on deferred adjudication for one of these crimes must terminate you. These mandatory procedures apply to the following crimes:
- Conviction of or placement on deferred adjudication for offenses requiring registration as a sex offender under state law
- Conviction of felony offenses under Title 5 of the Texas Penal Code, if the victim of the offense was under 18 years of age at the time of the offense, which include:
- Criminal homicide
- Kidnapping, unlawful restraint, and smuggling of persons
- Trafficking of persons
- Sexual offenses
- Assaultive offenses
Other Criminal Behavior that May Endanger Your Teaching License
The SBEC Disciplinary Guidelines also make it clear that the SBEC can take disciplinary action against teachers, up to and including revoking their teaching certificates, even if they are acquitted of a crime. They can sanction a teacher for conduct underlying criminal behavior if a preponderance of the evidence shows that the teacher engaged in the prohibited conduct. SBEC may take disciplinary action against the teacher, regardless of whether the teacher was convicted, placed on deferred adjudication or another type of community supervision, indicted, or even arrested.
Furthermore, SBEC requires that teachers exhibit good moral character and worthiness to instruct or supervise the youth of the state of Texas. To that end, SBEC may sanction a teacher for criminal offenses that are not specifically listed in the Texas Education Code. For instance, SBEC Disciplinary Guidelines state that any of the following may demonstrate that a teacher lacks good moral character:
- Active community supervision
- Conduct that indicates dishonesty or untruthfulness
- Habitual impairment through drugs or alcohol
- Abuse or neglect of students or minors, including the teacher’s children
- Reckless endangerment of the safety of others
As a result, just because a particular crime is not specified in the state law as a basis for teacher disciplinary action, SBEC still may have grounds to start disciplinary proceedings.
Count on Bertolino LLP, to Defend Your Teaching Certificate
When a complaint threatens your teaching certificate, you need a seasoned teacher license defense lawyer on your side. We will defend you against these attacks on the credentials you have worked so hard to earn. Get in touch with the lawyers of Bertolino LLP, today by calling (512) 515-9518 or visiting us online.