Your Florida Educator Certificate is priceless. As an educator, you've worked too hard, for too many years, to let an allegation or complaint tarnish your good name. At the Lento Law Firm, our Professional License Defense Team wants to help you protect your professional license and your right to teach in Florida. We know you deserve a chance to tell your side of the story and defend your livelihood. To learn more about how we can help, call our Professional License Defense Team at 888.535.3686 or complete our online contact form and we will get in touch with you.
The Role of Regulatory Authorities in License Investigations
There are various state bodies and regulatory authorities involved in educator investigations in Florida.
The Office of Professional Practices Services (PPS) investigates allegations of educator misconduct. They determine if action against an educator's Florida Educator Certificate is warranted. In other words, if an educator's conduct allegedly falls below accepted professional standards, the PPS may intervene.
The Commissioner of Education reviews PPS investigations and determines if disciplinary action is justified. If the Commissioner agrees that an educator should be disciplined, the case is referred to the Education Practices Commission (EPC). The EPC determines what sanctions to apply and issues the Final Order informing the educator of the penalties against their certificate.
The Nature of Florida Educator Certificate Investigations
Although serious, these are not criminal investigations. They're administrative, meaning they're between an individual and a state body or government agency. Unless criminal charges are also filed, you will not face criminal penalties or a criminal record because of these investigations. The only punishments that can be rightfully applied are punishments against your license and your right to work as a teacher in Florida.
Grounds for Florida Teacher and Educator License Investigations
The PPS cannot investigate every possible complaint against a Florida educator. They can only intervene if the educator:
- Commits certain statutory violations.
- Violates the Principles of Professional Conduct.
The complaint must also be “legally” sufficient, meaning there's evidence that it's true and, if proven true, the allegations merit disciplinary action against the educator's certificate. Unless the allegations could potentially merit license restriction, suspension, or revocation, the PPS has no jurisdiction.
Examples of statutory violations which may warrant a PPS investigation include:
- Gross immorality, e.g., sexual misconduct with a student.
- Deliberate failure to report child abuse.
- Professional misconduct.
- Fraudulent attempts to obtain a teaching license.
Violations of the Principles of Professional Conduct
Conduct Code violations include, but are not limited to:
- Intentionally violating or denying a student's rights.
- Deliberately preventing students from learning diverse points of view.
- Harassment or discrimination.
- Sexual or gender education which does not conform to state standards.
- Suppressing or distorting the curriculum.
- Failing to take responsibility for professional development.
Consequences of a Final Order
Depending on the outcome of the case, you could face sanctions including:
- License suspension (up to five years)
- License revocation (up to 10 years or permanent)
- Mandatory coursework
- Mandatory rehab or counseling
- Restrictions of duties
- Teaching probation
- Written reprimand
The PPS can impose more than one penalty, depending on the case.
The Investigations Process
There's a clear process for investigating teacher and educator complaints in Florida.
- Complaint: If a complaint is filed against a teacher with a Florida Educator Certificate, the PPS reviews the matter and decides whether to open a case.
- Case begins: Some complaints are dismissed immediately. However, if the PPS opens a case, they will notify the affected teacher.
- Investigation: The PPS conducts preliminary investigations. These investigations include witness interviews, reviewing documents, and meeting with the teacher in question.
- Referral: Preliminary investigations conclude. If the PPS believes that there's probable cause to refer the matter to the Commissioner, they'll issue a finding of Probable Cause.
- Commissioner Review: The Commissioner of Education reviews the Probable Cause findings. If they agree that there's cause to discipline the teacher, they will recommend sanctions.
- No Probable Cause: No action is warranted, and the case is closed.
- Probable Cause: Disciplinary action is warranted. The teacher is advised of the findings.
- Education Practices Commission: Unless the teacher accepts the “Probable Cause” findings against their certificate and surrenders their certificate for revocation (this is not advised), there are three options.
- Settlement agreement: An informal settlement reached through negotiations with the EPC.
- Informal hearing: The teacher admits the allegations but wishes to make their own pleas to mitigate the sanctions.
- Formal hearing: The teacher disputes the allegations, and a judge decides after hearing from all sides.
- Final Order: The EPC issues its findings in the form of a Final Order. The terms of the order and the sanctions applied are shared with education authorities around the US through a national clearinghouse system.
Appealing an Educator Certificate Suspension or Revocation
You can appeal disciplinary action if you believe it is disproportionate or that the authorities erred in some way by issuing a certain sanction. You can appeal by completing the relevant paperwork and submitting it to the PPS.
You should not attempt to appeal disciplinary action alone. This is a legal process that can be complex, and you deserve effective support to make the most of the opportunity. Call our Professional License Defense Team for help.
Consequences of Educator Certificate Suspension or Revocation in Florida
The consequences of losing your Florida Educator Certificate, even temporarily, cannot be overstated. Not only can allegations damage your career, but they affect your reputation among your colleagues. And even if the allegations are dismissed, the damage may already be done.
You have invested significant time, money, and resources into qualifying as a teacher in Florida. These are investments you cannot get back. If you lose your license, you could lose your livelihood and struggle to find alternative employment. And if you return to the classroom, your prospects could still suffer – information about disciplinary action is shared between states.
There's also the emotional and psychological impact of disciplinary action to consider. The toll on your mental well-being could negatively impact your personal relationships, and you may struggle with depression, stress, or anxiety.
To give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding these negative outcomes, you need legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
Can I Ever Get My Educator Certificate Back?
It depends on the situation. If your Educator Certificate is revoked, you won't be eligible to apply for a new license for a set period (this will be specified at the time of revocation). After this period ends, you may be able to reapply for a professional license. There's no guarantee that your application will be successful, though. You must satisfy state board certification requirements at the time of your application.
A professional license defense attorney can explain how you might reapply for an Educator Certificate following revocation.
Why You Need an Attorney to Help You Defend Your Teacher License in Florida
Whether you're an elementary instructor or high school teacher, you hold yourself to high standards. You know you can handle complex and highly stressful situations. However, just because you can manage novel situations like a license investigation alone doesn't mean you should. It's important that you get the support you deserve when you're dealing with any threat to your career. Here's why.
- The PPS and the Board have significant resources at their disposal to investigate and adjudicate license issues. You're not just fighting the education authorities – you're fighting at state level. An attorney can help you meet such a significant challenge.
- Despite the skill you have as an educator, you may not be familiar with education law or disciplinary procedures. You need an attorney to represent you who understands how these procedures work and how the law applies to your case.
- If you've never faced disciplinary action before, you may be unsure what to expect. This is not a time to be dealing with surprises. An attorney can walk you through the process and ensure that you're fully prepared for any hearings or negotiations.
- Successfully defending a professional license matter may require considerable advocacy, negotiation, and grit. An education attorney will be your best advocate and help you pursue the most favorable possible outcome while you focus on rebuilding your life and career.
The Florida Board of State Education takes allegations against educators very seriously. They will conduct rigorous investigations, and they have the benefit of experienced attorneys on their side. You deserve a fair chance to defend yourself – you need an attorney to help you tell your side of the story.
How the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team Can Help You
At the Lento Law Firm, our goal is simple: helping you retain your Florida Educator Certificate. It's our mission to help you reclaim your professional reputation, clear your good name, and get back to doing what you love. Specifically, here's what you can expect from us if you hire our Professional License Defense Team to represent you.
- Support and guidance: We will listen to your side of the story. From the moment you first meet with us until the resolution of your case, we're here to help you through this process. We can answer any questions you have – no case is too simple or too complex for us to handle. If you need our Professional License Defense Team, we're here for you.
- Legal knowledge: When it comes to defending your Florida Educator Certificate, we won't leave anything to chance. We will conduct our own investigations and gather as much evidence in your favor as possible. We will fully explain the strengths and weaknesses of your case and ensure you fully understand your options for proceeding.
- Professional license defense experience: We have successfully represented many educators and helped them protect their license to teach. Whether it's negotiating with authorities or representing you at an administrative hearing, you can trust that we have the experience to guide you through this process.
- Commitment: What separates us is our commitment to every client. We believe that your license is precious and that every teacher deserves a chance to reach their full potential. We will diligently approach every stage of your case with the dedication, drive, and passion required to maximize the chances of a favorable outcome.
- Tailored case strategy: At the Lento Law Firm, our Professional License Defense Team knows that every case is unique. We will devise a personalized strategy for moving your case forward, depending on the facts. No matter how simple or complex your case, we know how much it matters to you – and so it matters to us.
Whether you seek to have the allegations dismissed or you're trying to mitigate the consequences of disciplinary action on your career, we can help. Our nationwide legal team is waiting to hear from you.
We Support Teachers and Educators in Schools Throughout Florida
It doesn't matter how long you've been a teacher in Florida – license issues can be serious. That's why we're committed to working across the state to help educators protect their teaching licenses. We serve clients in every public school district in Florida, including:
- Alachua County
- Broward County
- Columbia County
- Glades County
- Miami-Dade County
- Nassau County
- Orange County
- Palm Beach County
- Sarasota County
No matter where you're located in Florida, our team can serve you. Don't hesitate to contact us even if your county is not listed here.
Let the Lento Law Firm Team Help You Defend Your Teaching License in Florida
As a teacher, you're helping to shape the next generation of bright young minds across Florida. You deserve the chance to succeed in your career, even if you've made a mistake. At the Lento Law Firm, our Professional License Defense Team will do everything we can to help keep your career on track. Our nationwide practice means we have experience assisting teachers and educators across the US, and we're waiting to represent you today.
Don't feel like you need to handle a professional license matter alone. The consequences for your professional future are too grave to leave anything to chance. Instead, arrange a consultation with experienced attorneys who understand how the education system works and how to defend professional licenses. Call the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm at 888.535.3686. Or leave us a message online, and we'll return to you promptly.