As a licensed teacher in Colorado, you've no doubt worked hard to get where you are. Getting your teaching degree, becoming licensed, maintaining your license, and building up your professional reputation take years of diligent effort. The state of Colorado is full of passionate, dedicated, highly qualified educators, but unfortunately, many of these educators are subject to sanctions on their teaching licenses because of alleged misconduct or unprofessionalism.
A misunderstanding, miscommunication, or even false accusation can have a serious impact on your ability to teach. If there is a formal complaint against you for misconduct or incompetence, it could put your teacher's license in jeopardy. If you're facing disciplinary action against your license, you should take steps to prevent it immediately. Use every resource at your disposal to protect your license—it's your livelihood at stake.
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team helps Colorado teachers fight accusations of misconduct and unprofessionalism. We'll help you protect your license so you can keep doing what you love. Call us today at 888-535-3686 or fill out our form, and we'll contact you.
Disciplinary Actions the CDE Can Take
The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) is in charge of handling complaints about educators. The CDE conducts investigations, holds hearings, and sanctions teachers who are responsible for violations. Anyone can report an educator in Colorado on the CDE website. If the CDE and State Board of Education determine that you have indeed committed a violation, the sanctions on your license could be one of the following:
If you've received notice from the CDE that your license is under investigation or there is a charge against you, you should contact a Professional License Defense Team of attorneys such as the Lento Law Firm.
The Truth May Not Be Enough
Many teachers think that if they simply tell the truth regarding their misconduct allegation, everything will work out fine. Unfortunately, it doesn't usually work that way. We've found that there are often several factors impacting a teacher licensing issue that could prevent teachers from successfully clearing their names. Teacher's license suspensions and revocations come too often from misunderstandings or miscommunications.
The CDE can still sanction you even if you haven't done anything wrong for several reasons, including:
- The CDE didn't uncover all the necessary facts, testimony, and evidence in the case.
- There's bias in favor of the complainant, and the CDE wants to demonstrate that it takes complaints seriously, so it makes an example out of you.
- Certain evidence or testimony isn't considered during the hearing.
- The CDE doesn't reach an appropriate conclusion based on the information available.
If you have an experienced Professional License Defense attorney, like the team at the Lento Law Firm, on your side, you can ensure all the proper procedures are followed.
Grounds for Sanctions Against Teachers in Colorado
Colorado statutes provide a list of behaviors that can constitute grounds for denial, suspension, revocation, or annulment of a teaching license in the state:
- Attempting to obtain an education credential through fraud or misrepresentation
- Being found to be mentally incompetent through a court order
- Being professionally incompetent or committing unethical behavior
- Knowingly and intentionally failing to protect student data
- Resigning or abandoning a contracted position with a school district without written notice or good cause
- Contributing to the delinquency of a minor
- Any felony that renders a teacher unfit to teach
- An offense within the last ten years involving physical assault
- A misdemeanor for domestic violence, sexual assault, unlawful sexual conduct, sexual assault on a client by a psychotherapist, child abuse, sexual exploitation of children, or the illegal sale of controlled substances
The CDE also provides definitions and examples for what is considered professional incompetence and unethical behavior.
Some examples of professional incompetence include:
- Willfully departing from the state's quality standards
- Refusing to perform duties required by state and federal laws
- Habitually abusing alcohol or drugs such that it impairs the ability to be a teacher
- Acting in a manner that clearly shows a substantial lack of knowledge or ability to teach
Some examples of unethical behavior that could endanger your Colorado teaching license include:
- Failing to make a reasonable effort to protect students from harm
- Providing professional services in a discriminatory manner
- Failing to protect confidential information
- Giving an unqualified person responsibilities to carry out
- Distorting the curriculum to promote personal viewpoints
- Making false or malicious statements about students
- Conducting financial transactions related to the school program in a manner inconsistent with applicable law
- Immoral conduct that affects the safety and welfare of children
The above offenses don't automatically result in a penalty for your teaching license. The CDE reviews every case individually.
Colorado statutes also state that some offenses always constitute grounds for denial, suspension, revocation, or annulment of a Colorado educational credential:
- Felony child abuse
- Crime of violence
- Felony offense involving unlawful sexual behavior
- Indecent exposure
- Felony domestic violence
- Felony drug offense
- Failure to submit fingerprints when requested by the CDE
The Adjudication for Teacher License Issues in Colorado
The Colorado Educator Licensing Act, along with the Colorado Revised Statutes, states the process for licensing issues and complaints. The CDE receives complaints and conducts investigations and hearings, then makes a recommendation to the State Board of Education on which actions should be taken concerning your license. The adjudication process has four steps.
- Complaint The process starts when someone files a complaint against you. Anyone who is an “aggrieved party” can make a complaint to the CDE. Keep in mind that the CDE must send you notice before any kind of action is taken. Your license cannot be revoked, suspended, annulled, limited, or modified without you receiving formal, written notice.
- Investigation The CDE investigates every complaint it receives concerning education license holders and applicants. If this initial investigation determines that probable cause of a violation exists, there will be a formal charge against you. The CDE must send you a formal notice of the charges and give you 30 working days to respond. The school district you work for will also be notified. After receiving your response, the CDE reviews the charge and decides whether to pursue the charges for denial, revocation, or annulment of the license and sends the recommendation to the State Board of Education. If the CDE recommends revocation, annulment, or denial, the Board schedules a hearing. You can also request a hearing if the Board doesn't provide one.
- Hearing Hearings concerning teacher licensing issues in Colorado can be conducted by administrative law judges or by a representative from the CDE. At the hearing, you can present evidence and expert witnesses to support your position. You can also cross-examine witnesses that the other party calls to testify. You're allowed to have legal counsel present with you at the hearing as well. One important thing to note about the adjudication process for professional license holders in Colorado is that the government strongly encourages state agencies like the CDE to use mediation. The mediation process is a more informal way to solve the matter through negotiations. Mediation can often be completed in a matter of hours, whereas hearings could take months. When you have the Lento Law Firm as your Professional License Defense legal team, we can advise you on what the best option would be in your situation.
- Appeal If you want to reverse or modify the initial decision of the administrative law judge after the hearing, you must file an appeal within 20 days of the decision. The appeal must contain relevant parts of the transcript from the original hearing and relevant parts of the record. Our team can help you draft and submit this appeal.
Do You Need an Attorney to Defend Your Teaching License in Colorado?
Losing your teaching license isn't a criminal matter but a lawyer can still be extremely beneficial to you. The consequences of losing your license are devastating and an attorney, like the team at the Lento Law Firm, has the experience to help you protect your license and professional reputation.
Some of the reasons you might want an attorney include:
- The CDE has countless resources. As a state agency, the CDE has many lawyers and experts at its disposal to deal with teaching license issues. They're well-versed in these kinds of matters so they'll likely be one step ahead of you. You can make things more even by hiring an attorney who also has experience with professional licenses.
- You lack experience dealing with license disciplinary matters. Most teachers don't have experience with adjudication for license issues. You probably have not had to attend proceedings and likely have no idea how to handle it. Our attorneys can advise you on the best course of action.
You still have work and daily life to deal with while your license matter is ongoing. Let our firm handle the disciplinary matter so you can focus on being the best teacher possible for your students.
The Services Our Firm Provides to Colorado Teachers
At the Lento Law Firm, we work diligently to help you protect your teacher's license. You can expect us to do the following when you hire us:
- Assess your case and ideal outcome: We'll evaluate your case and provide you with our assessment and advice. You'll have an idea of what the best possible outcome can be for you depending on the various factors of your case.
- Obtain evidence and testimony: We'll do a thorough investigation of the charges against you by gathering relevant evidence and speaking with potential witnesses. We'll keep track of all the documentation that can be used in your favor and use it to work for a better outcome in your case.
- Look at options outside of the adjudication process: You may be able to resolve the matter by simply negotiating with the CDE rather than going through the whole adjudication process. We can speak with the agency's attorneys on your behalf and try to find a favorable solution through negotiations.
- Accompany you to meetings and hearings: For every official meeting or hearing you have concerning your teaching license issue, one of our attorneys will be by your side. We'll be there to offer advice throughout the meeting or hearing and advise you on how to respond to questions.
- Initiate litigation: If the matter doesn't get resolved how you'd like via the adjudication process, we may be able to pursue litigation. Filing a lawsuit is a big step, however, and shouldn't be done lightly. Our team can advise on whether it's a good option for you.
Our experienced legal team works with teachers nationwide to help defend their licenses. We'll take your unique needs and situation into account when offering our advice and we'll work to get the best possible outcome for you.
We Help Teachers Throughout Colorado
No matter where you teach in Colorado, the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm is ready to help. We serve teachers working in districts in:
- Colorado Springs
- Fort Collins
- Castle Rock
- Grand Junction
- Commerce City
If you work in a Colorado city not listed here, we can still help you with your licensing issue. The Lento Law Firm is ready to help teachers throughout Colorado.
Call the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team Today
When you're accused of violating CDE policies for licensed educators, your license could be at stake. You must do everything you can to hold on to it. The team at the Lento Law Firm is ready to begin work on your case and provide advice on the next steps you should take. We want to help you hold on to your livelihood.
Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for a consultation. We'll discuss defense strategies with you so you can start defending your Colorado teaching license. You can also fill out our form with your case details and a member of our team will contact you.