Are you concerned that your teaching license may be in jeopardy? If you're facing license suspension or revocation in the District of Columbia, you must act now to protect your livelihood. At the Lento Law Firm, we understand the severity of these accusations and the impact they may have on your career. We want to do everything we can to help you through this distressing period. To meet with our Professional License Defense Team, call 888.535.3686 or leave us an online message.
Regulating Teachers in the District of Columbia
In the District of Columbia, the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) issues teaching credentials across the region. The OSSE derives its authority from the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations. The OSSE also takes responsibility for investigating educator complaints and, where deemed necessary, suspending or revoking licenses.
The rules for investigating complaints, including what punishments the OSSE can administer and how the procedures work, can be found in the official guidebook. However, to help you understand exactly what to expect from the complaints process, we can explain the most significant parts below.
When the OSSE Can Investigate Educators
The District of Columbia holds educators to exceptionally high standards. As such, the OSSE has wide discretion in investigating complaints against teachers. These complaints can be made by local education authorities or individuals – the OSSE treats all complaints equally.
Grounds for License Suspension or Revocation
Pursuant to the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations, the OSSE can suspend, deny, or revoke a teaching license if the educator:
- Fails to report child neglect or abuse.
- Makes fraudulent attempts to obtain a teaching credential.
- Is convicted of a crime such as rape, murder, child abuse, or child pornography.
- Commits certain other violent crimes.
- Commits other acts of “moral turpitude.” Such acts could include, but are not limited to, sexual relations with students.
Essentially, the OSSE has the authority to conduct investigations against an educator if they have reason to believe the teacher in question committed an act that, if left unchallenged, could bring the integrity of the profession into question.
The Investigation Process
There is a clear investigation process for teachers and the OSSE to follow should a complaint be received. Although you should take legal advice to understand how the rules apply to your situation, we can summarize the main steps as follows.
- The OSSE receives a complaint against the educator. This complaint should be in writing.
- The OSSE undertakes preliminary investigations to determine if the complaint warrants a formal administrative action. You will be notified if the OSSE is undertaking such investigations, and you should be informed of the complaint against you.
- Often, complaints are dismissed as unfounded at this early stage. However, should the OSSE deem further action warranted, they will commence administrative action.
- At this point, the OSSE should notify the educator of its intent to take specific disciplinary action against them, e.g., license suspension or revocation.
- You should be advised that you have the right to challenge the OSSE's proposed action at an administrative hearing. You have the right to legal representation.
- At this point, the educator can either accept the proposed action or request an administrative hearing. If the educator doesn't request a hearing within ten days of receiving notice, the request may be denied.
- The burden of proof is on the OSSE to show why the proposed action is necessary.
The Administrative Hearing
The hearing normally takes place a few weeks after the educator requests such a hearing. You should receive fair notice of the date and location of the hearing. A hearing officer will consider evidence presented by both sides and make a final decision. This decision should be based on findings of fact and law.
You should receive a final decision within 60 days of the hearing. If you're concerned about how your case is progressing, or if you have questions in the meantime, your attorney will be more than happy to assist.
Will I Face Criminal Charges?
Administrative proceedings do not mean criminal charges. The legal process is entirely different.
Administrative procedures typically involve government agencies. Judges hearing administrative cases do not have the authority to issue criminal punishments or hear criminal matters. Therefore, you will not face penalties such as jail time, or a criminal record, if the administrative hearing goes against you.
However, you may face separate criminal charges depending on the nature of the allegations. Again, though, this is an entirely separate process and the outcome of one case does not affect the outcome of the other. Your lawyer can provide further information and clarity on this matter.
Outcome of Disciplinary Proceedings
The OSSE should notify the educator of the proposed action before making its final decision. Typically, this means potentially suspending or revoking the teacher's license, but it may also mean denying a license application to a prospective educator. The OSSE could also recommend other forms of remedial action that may be deemed appropriate.
An attorney may be able to help you mitigate proposed actions by negotiating with OSSE officials on your behalf. To discuss the options available in your case, contact our Professional License Defense Team.
Consequences of Disciplinary Action Against Educators
There are highly significant consequences for any teacher who loses their license, even temporarily.
- Losing your license means you cannot teach in any capacity. If you have not trained for anything else, your entire livelihood is in jeopardy.
- You may feel alienated from your colleagues, even if the claims are proven false and you keep your license. Once allegations are made, it can be difficult to escape the stigma attached to disciplinary action.
- It's possible that you'll face financial difficulties, especially if you lose your license and can't find an equivalent professional salary in a different field.
- You may doubt your own ability to teach. This lack of confidence could impair your performance, which creates a vicious cycle of self-doubt and underperformance.
The consequences of disciplinary action are too high to leave a single element of your defense to chance. Reach out to our team for urgent assistance.
Appealing a License Suspension or Revocation in the District of Columbia
If your educator certificate is revoked or suspended, you do have options. Should you have legal grounds to do so, you can appeal the OSSE's decision. What are considered legal grounds? Typically, it's when the judge makes an error, such as:
- Misapplying the law.
- Giving unfair weight to certain facts.
- Failing to apply the relevant law.
You must request an appeal within ten days of receiving notification of the proposed action against you. If your appeal fails, you can file an appeal with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. You must do this within 30 days of the final decision against you. The decision issued by the appeals court is final.
To be clear, an appeal is not a second chance at going over the case again. It's strictly confined to a point of law. If you have grounds to appeal, your lawyer can determine the best way to proceed.
Can I Reapply for My Teaching License?
If your license is revoked, this is intended to be a permanent outcome. However, this does not mean that it's impossible to seek a teaching license again.
- You must wait five years before reapplying for a revoked certificate – your application will automatically be denied if you apply before this.
- If an educator is found guilty of certain crimes, such as murder or rape, they cannot reapply for a certificate. It's permanently revoked.
Similar rules apply if you're seeking to have a suspended license reinstated. OSSE won't automatically reinstate your license. You must seek to have it reinstated by following a specific process. Our Professional License Defense Team can explain the procedure to follow in more detail.
Why You Need a Professional License Defense Attorney
It's understandable if you're reluctant to seek legal advice. However, license issues will not go away on their own, and you should not be afraid to get help. Although you're not legally required to hire a lawyer to assist you with these matters, here's why you should strongly consider retaining an experienced attorney.
- OSSE spends a considerable amount of time investigating allegations against educators. They have significant resources at their disposal, including experienced attorneys who are familiar with procedural rules. If you do not hire your own representation, you're at an immediate disadvantage.
- Many license issues can be resolved through informal negotiations, with the aim being to find the most favorable outcome in the circumstances. An attorney can manage these negotiations to promote a fair and efficient disposal of your case.
- Administrative law can be complex. Without a lawyer on your side, you could make costly mistakes or jeopardize your defense. You could lose your right to appeal or miss key deadlines.
- Disciplinary action is, by its very nature, stressful. You deserve to feel supported throughout the process. Hiring a legal representative will empower you and give you the confidence required to face this challenge.
Disciplinary action could be one of the most significant obstacles you face during your entire teaching career. Do not leave anything to chance – give yourself a fair shot and hire an experienced attorney to stand with you.
How the Lento Law Firm Can Help You Defend Your License
Your license is too valuable to simply trust any lawyer to help you defend it. Instead, what you need is an experienced team standing alongside you. This is what you can expect should you hire the Lento Law Firm.
- Your case is our priority from the moment you schedule a meeting. If you hire us, we will get to work on your defense immediately.
- Our lawyers listen. Once we've established the facts, we will determine a defense strategy uniquely tailored to your situation. We will answer any questions you have and attempt to assuage your concerns about license investigations.
- We're experienced. Our Professional License Defense Team understands what's required to present the most compelling defense in the circumstances. Whether we're negotiating on your behalf or appealing license revocation, we will use our knowledge and experience to your advantage.
- Our attorneys handle the legal complexities for you. While you focus on rebuilding your career – and confidence in your abilities – we will manage the procedural aspects on your behalf.
With our lawyers on your side, you can be confident in your defense strategy and know that you're doing everything possible to protect your license.
Experienced Lawyers Supporting Educators Across the District of Columbia
Our attorneys work across the US to serve educators facing disciplinary action. No matter where you teach in the District of Columbia, our team can help you. We serve every public school district, including:
- Capital City
- Center City
- District of Columbia
- Mundo Verde
- Two Rivers
Our team can help whether you're new to teaching or a long-standing educator with decades of experience. No issue is too complex for us to help you navigate. If you teach in the District of Columbia, don't hesitate to retain our attorneys.
Retain Our Professional License Defense Team
Your teaching license is precious. When it comes to protecting your livelihood, you should not leave anything to chance. You've invested too much time and have too many skills to lose your shot at a promising career.
That's where the Lento Law Firm can help. Our Professional License Defense Team has served numerous teachers in similar situations. We know what it takes to successfully defend a teaching license and prevent suspension or revocation. If you choose our team, we will do everything we can to help you protect your career. We'll stand by your side throughout the entire process and allow you to feel confident in your defense.