Teachers have an important job. You work hard to help shape the next generation and give them the skills and knowledge that they need to succeed. Because of just how critical your job is, it’s no surprise that your field is tightly regulated and that there are many rules about how you can conduct yourself.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is primarily responsible for enforcing these rules and regulations, and if you find yourself on the wrong side of them, you can be sure that there will be professional consequences. This is why you need to react promptly when facing a TEA complaint and begin forming your defense.
One issue that’s becoming more common these days is inappropriate communication with students. This usually concerns the use of social media channels. Yes, pretty much everyone is online and has multiple social media accounts these days. Yes, some younger people may be more comfortable communicating online than they are speaking in real life. But as a certified educator, you need to be careful about how you are using your social media accounts and talking with students. If you have been accused of having inappropriate communication with a student, your next step should be securing the assistance of a teaching license defense attorney.
What is Considered Inappropriate Communication?
In recent years, the Texas Education Agency has not explicitly outlawed any particular type of communication, but it has warned teachers about communicating inappropriately via text messages, email, and instant messages. Obviously, social media is essentially a part of that as well.
How inappropriate the contact was can be judged by a number of criteria, including the subject matter, the frequency of the communication, the language used, and whether or not the communication was secretive. Some school districts even have their own specific policies and rules, like a requirement that you copy a parent on any text messages you are sending to their child. You also have to worry about some things that are said in jest over social media that can easily be taken the wrong way, whether by the intended recipient or another observer.
Anything that doesn’t look right can become a massive liability for an educator. In any case, electronic communications can end up causing a big headache for a teacher. The best bet is to take preventative measures and limit such communications. Still, if you have already been accused of inappropriate communication through the use of social media, you need to begin defending yourself.
Why You should Hire an Attorney
An accusation like this can have a devastating effect on your career and your professional reputation. The Texas Education Agency can punish you with the suspension or revocation of your license, among other disciplinary actions. You need to take this complaint seriously.
A Texas license defense attorney can attempt to get such a complaint dismissed and will help you form a defense. Usually, your attorney can first attempt to get the complaint dismissed when it is initially filed. At that point, the TEA and its investigator are trying to determine that a complaint has merit or that it is within their jurisdiction to investigate. If neither of these things are true, they can drop the complaint.
However, if they do decide that the complaint is valid, the TEA will pursue disciplinary action. You will usually end up at an evidentiary hearing, in front of a judge from the State Office of Administrative Hearings. At this point, your career is on the line, and you need to have the best defense possible.
That is why you should contact BERTOLINO LLP to learn more about what an Austin license defense attorney can do for you. Dial (512) 476-5757 and ask about a case evaluation as soon as you can. Protect your reputation and your career as an educator.