Is Your Teaching License at Risk?
There are so many reasons to pursue a career in education. Educators know that teaching is a calling – and one that can make a significant difference in the lives of children. To become a teacher, you've put in time, money, and a lot of hard work. You applied for and received your teaching license from the state. So, if you are a licensed teaching professional in the state of Ohio who is facing allegations of professional misconduct from the Ohio Department of Education, your career – and your ability to support your students and your family – may be at significant risk.
There's no two ways about it: the educational landscape has changed over the past decades. The rewards are many. However, today's teachers also face significant challenges. Many teachers are shouldering the burden of long hours, high expectations, new regulations, decreasing budgets, and a lack of administrative support. Every day, teachers are being asked to do more with less – and it's taking its toll. In some cases, that leads to disciplinary actions that may threaten licensure.
If you are facing an investigation by the Ohio Department of Education, you are likely feeling many different emotions. You may be anxious, scared, or even angry about the consequences you might face as the result of a misunderstanding or issue beyond your control. After spending so much time building up your knowledge and skills as a teacher – as well as putting your heart and soul into helping your students reach their full potential – this is not a challenge you should have to face alone. As you consider how to respond to the Ohio Department of Education's Office of Professional Conduct and the associated disciplinary process, you may be confused about where to begin – or who to trust. But with so much on the line, it is imperative you have the support you need to protect your teaching license, your livelihood, and your future as an educator.
Luckily, the support you need is only a phone call away. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team can advise you at every step of the disciplinary process – and help ensure the best possible outcome. The Lento Law Firm can represent teachers in large cities like Columbus and Cleveland – as well as in more rural areas of the state, like Meigs Local and Newcomerstown EX.
If you have received notice that you are being investigated by the Ohio Department of Education's Office of Professional Conduct, there's no time to waste. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3685 or reach out online to discuss your case – and retain the experienced legal counsel you need to guide you through the investigation.
Ohio Department of Education Disciplinary Proceedings
The state of Ohio requires that all licensed teachers follow a Code of Professional Conduct. If someone believes a teacher has deviated from that code, they can report it to the Office of Professional Conduct through the Department of Education website. Anyone – a parent, student, colleague, or even an outside party –can make such a referral. The Office of Professional Conduct takes every referral made very seriously. They carefully review each and every one. If there seems to be evidence that a teacher engaged in conduct that violates the Code of Professional Conduct, the state will then initiate an investigation.
If the investigation finds the complaint credible, teachers can face a variety of different disciplinary actions, depending on the nature and severity of the violation. In some cases, when the evidence supports it, the case may be closed with no disciplinary action whatsoever. Outside of avoiding a complaint altogether, this is a best-case scenario in terms of referral outcomes. But there may be other recommended actions after investigations are completed. They can include:
- Letter of Admonishment. This is a written reprimand which becomes part of the public record.
- Automatic Revocation. In cases of criminal convictions, or other serious violations involving drugs or sexual battery, a teacher could use their license permanently.
- Voluntary Surrender. In some cases, the Department of Education will recommend that the teacher give up his or her license voluntarily. Like automatic revocation, in this case, the loss of license is permanent.
- Consent Agreement. Educators may be offered a consent agreement, where they come to a legal agreement with the Ohio Department of Education. This agreement will include specific actions or terms required for the teacher to return their license to good standing. With a consent agreement, teachers will work closely with the Office of Professional Conduct to ensure those terms are met.
The Ohio Department of Education also hosts a Disciplinary Search on their website. Any person with an Internet connection can go to that link and search for a teacher's name to see if they have faced disciplinary actions – and what, if any, corrective measures have been required to bring that teacher's license into good standing.
That's yet another reason why, if you are a licensed teacher in Cincinnati, Akron, or Dayton – or anywhere else in the state – who may be facing disciplinary action from the Office of Professional Conduct, you want to have an experienced Professional License Defense Team to help you respond to any allegations and mount a thoughtful, effective defense.
Common Allegations that May Lead to Disciplinary Action
As noted before, to obtain and maintain a teaching license in the state of Ohio, it is expected that teachers will follow the state's Licensure Code of Professional Conduct. Some issues that may put your teaching license at risk include:
- Violating state or federal laws
- Sexual harassment or abuse
- Inappropriate relationship with a student
- Committing an act of academic dishonesty
- Acts of cruelty against students
- Disparaging students on the basis of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or political or religious affiliation
- Inappropriate language or behavior
- Falsifying or intentionally misrepresenting in reporting information to the school or state
- Gross negligence or incompetence that puts students at risk
- Theft or fraud
- Violating procedures related to standardized tests, test supplies, or other school or state resources
- Mental illness or substance abuse
- Using school resources to run or manage a personal business venture
As any teacher knows, misunderstandings often arise in the classroom. It's just human nature. But this is why it's so important to respond in the right way to any allegation. If you can provide the appropriate evidence to support your side of the story, the Office of Professional Conduct can close your case early – and ensure you keep your teaching license.
This is yet another reason why it is imperative to engage experienced defense counsel to help you share your side of the story – and come out the other side of any disciplinary investigation with your license and reputation intact. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team is available to answer your questions, explain your rights, advise you on your options, and help you develop a strong defense to fight any disciplinary charges.
Understanding the Office of Professional Conduct's Disciplinary Process
The Office of Professional Conduct is legally obligated to investigate any and all allegations of misconduct by teachers who hold a state license. Anyone can make a referral against a licensed educator in the state. If a referral is found credible after rigorous review, the Office of Professional Conduct will then open an investigation into the matter.
The investigation will be conducted by the department's own investigators and staff attorneys, who will request documents and other evidence, as well as conduct interviews by phone and in person with all relevant parties. The investigation can take some time – months or even a year to complete. Once the investigators write up their findings in a confidential case report, it is then sent for review by the Office of Professional Conduct's senior leadership team.
At that point, the Office of Professional Conduct will initiate disciplinary action and work with the teacher to come to a settlement. If that is not possible, teachers have the right to request an administrative hearing where they can provide evidence in their defense.
While the disciplinary proceedings do offer educators due process, it is important to understand that the Office of Professional Conduct does not have to adhere to the same rules as a court of law. They may well share some of the policies and procedures with civil and criminal courts – but they have their own regulations and procedures to follow. This is yet another reason why it's so important to have knowledgeable attorneys to help you navigate the process. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team can guide you from the time you are notified of an allegation all the way through to an administrative hearing.
If you receive notice of a complaint against you, every second counts. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3685 or go online to discuss your case – and gather the necessary information to come to the best possible outcome with the Department of Education.
Providing a Strong Defense to the Office of Professional Conduct
Anyone who suspects professional misconduct can file a complaint against a teacher in the state of Ohio. Some of these referrals may be based on simple misunderstandings. Others may be due to malice. The Office of Professional Conduct is legally required to review each referral. They will give it the attention it deserves. But that means there are also places where you may be able to intervene, before or after an investigation, to close the case.
The Office of Professional Conduct knows that most teachers in the state of Ohio are dedicated, qualified professionals with only their students' best interests in mind. Each day, they walk into the classroom and give their best to their students. That's why it's so important to take every opportunity to share evidence that may exonerate you or mitigate allegations of misconduct. It may be possible to clear up the matter entirely, before any disciplinary actions are recommended. The Lento Law Firm's experienced Professional License Defense Team can help you collect the evidence and all other pertinent information, to help the Office of Professional Conduct understand what really happened – and, in the process, help you protect your license and livelihood.
Areas We Serve in Ohio
The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm has experience representing educator clients throughout the state of Ohio, including:
We can represent teachers who work in school districts of all shapes and sizes – including those who work in rural districts like:
- Adena Local
- Belmont-Harrison Vocational School District
- Bloom Vernon Local Schools
- Caldwell EV
- Dawson Bryant Local
- East Central Ohio ESC
Protect Your License – and Your Future
Your professional teaching license is a sign to all that you belong in the classroom. You've put in the work, gotten the degree, and gained the experience required to help the next generation of students gain the knowledge and life skills they need to succeed in the world. If your teaching license is under threat, you must take it seriously. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team has seen it all. They understand the politics, policies, and procedures that can influence an investigation and its outcome. And they are here to help you get to the best possible outcome, no matter what the charges may be.
The Ohio Department of Education's Office of Professional Conduct has significant resources at its disposal to investigate misconduct referrals. You decided to join the educational field to help students. You deserve to have every opportunity to defend your license. When you have an experienced team by your side, you are in a better position to mount the kind of defense that will result in a positive outcome.
When you put your trust in the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team, you are putting your trust in your future as an educator. They have the knowledge and experience to fight for you and your teaching license – so you can continue to shape the next generation of students. Call (888) 535-3685 or reach out to us online today.