To become a teacher or education professional in Michigan, individuals must invest thousands of dollars and years in schooling but also acquire and maintain a state-issued license. Michigan's professional education certificate isn't just a fee but requires a stringent plan from a provisional certificate to full credentials. After meeting all the requirements for official transcripts and professional mandates and fulfilling the applications, licensees must adhere to a strict code of ethics to keep their certificate or risk suspension or revocation.
After all the time and effort put into obtaining teaching credentials, losing a professional education certificate is a crushing blow to one's career. There are many reasons a complaint can lead to certificate suspension or revocation, and regaining legitimacy with state authorities can be challenging. Therefore, it's essential to know what can put a professional education certificate at risk and what you can do to defend yourself when disciplinary action arises.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team is a valuable resource to Michigan education professionals. You can depend on a knowledgeable team of attorneys to assist you in defense against disciplinary boards and provide guidance in maintaining good standing with state authorities. Call 888-535-3686 today or go online now for help.
Michigan Professional Education Certificate Code of Ethics
Those seeking to teach in Michigan must apply and obtain a professional education certificate through the Michigan Online Educator Certification System (MOECS), overseen by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). Michigan also offers additional endorsements in various subject areas and certifications for administrators, counselors, and special education teachers, among others.
Teachers and educators must usually participate in ongoing professional development to maintain or renew their licenses, with varying timelines. But, one of the most important obligations to maintain certification is adherence to the MDE's Code of Educational Ethics. The code provides principles for best practice, mindfulness, self-reflection, and decision-making, honoring the public trust certificate holders are granted.
The code is outlined with five major principles, including the following:
- Responsibility to the Profession: This entails holding education professionals to ethical standards that "may be higher than required by law."
- Responsibility for Professional Competence: All certificate holders must demonstrate the "knowledge, skills, and dispositions required for professional competence."
- Responsibility to Students: The primary obligation of a professional education certificate holder is to "treat students with dignity and respect," including promoting the "health, safety, and well-being of students" and respecting various interpersonal boundaries among individuals.
- Responsibility to the School Community: Each certificate holder must promote "positive relationships and effective interactions with all members of the school community."
- Responsible and Ethical Use of Technology: Professionals must practice "vigilance to ensure that appropriate boundaries of time, place, and role are maintained when using electric communication."
If teachers and educators fail to uphold the MDE's principles, they risk discipline. However, the MDE will investigate all complaints from various sources like students, other teachers, parents, or community members. Given that schools work hard to keep up a pristine public perception, they will address complaints swiftly, which could lead to certificate suspension or revocation.
The Disciplinary Process for Michigan Teachers and Educators
Misconduct can take a variety of forms, from situations inside the classroom to administrative disagreements and personal issues off school grounds. Typically coinciding with the aforementioned state ethical code, the following could land a Michigan education certificate holder in trouble:
- Using unapproved teaching materials
- Inappropriate relationships with colleagues or students
- Substance abuse or excessive alcohol consumption outside of work
- Unethical social media usage
- Failure to maintain student safety or educational standards
Once a complaint is lodged with the MDE, the agency will conduct an informal, preliminary investigation to determine whether the allegations are substantial enough to warrant an official, more detailed investigation. An MDE investigator may interview witnesses involved, collect documents that include but are not limited to lesson plans, electronic correspondence, social media account information, previous employment history, and even coordinate with other state or federal agencies.
The final step of the official investigation is for the MDE's legal team to review all the information gathered by the investigator. They will then ascertain if disciplinary action is justified. If so, the certificate holder in question is formally notified of the charges against them and allowed to respond in writing or, in some cases, through a hearing.
A case is heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ,) and both the certificate holder and the state will have the opportunity to present their sides of the case, submit evidence, and cross-examine witnesses. Timelines will vary depending on the facts of the case but are typically conducted within 60 days, with extensions permitted in some circumstances.
The ALJ will decide whether disciplinary action is warranted and make a recommendation to the MDE, which will then vote on whether to accept the ALJ's offered sanctions or alter them, which may include the following:
- Reprimand: A formal warning for the certificate holder.
- Probation: Continued employment under monitored conditions, sometimes with fewer responsibilities or leadership positions.
- Suspension: Temporary removal of the certificate for a specified period.
- Voluntary surrender: A deal to surrender a certificate to mitigate maximum punishment.
Revocation: Permanent loss of the professional education certificate.
Regardless of which sanctions the MDE imposes, certified teachers and educators have the opportunity to appeal the decision through an ALJ under limited circumstances. But they may also appeal through the Michigan court system.
Reinstatement of a Professional Education Certificate
If a certificate has been suspended, teachers and educators often must complete a series of conditions when they are forbidden from certification. Remedial requirements may include additional education, behavioral intervention, restitution, or other corrective measures depending on the original misconduct.
For certificate revocations, it's generally tougher to regain validity with the MDE, and a certain amount of time must pass before an individual is allowed to reapply. However, the agency could revoke a certificate and ban the individual from reapplying.
Why You Need the Lento Law Firm to Help Protect Your Professional Education Certificate
Any complaint against you is a threat to your Michigan professional education certificate. Even if disciplinary action is avoided, investigations into serious allegations can affect your teaching career for years to come. Therefore, hiring an attorney well-versed in administrative proceedings involving state agencies and ALJs is a worthwhile investment.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team understands the immense pressure certificate holders can be under during the disciplinary process. You need the tools to protect your career from the adverse effects that allegations can cause. Not only will the Lento Law Firm make sure you are fully prepared to defend yourself in front of the MDE, but they will also:
- Review the submitted complaint, facts of the situation, and any other relevant information to decide on the best way forward.
- Assist in correspondence drafting to the MDE and other authorities.
- Collect evidence, including interviewing potential witnesses.
- Work to broker resolution with the MDE.
- File appeals with the Michigan court system if needed.
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team will give you peace of mind to keep your teaching certification while you focus on your students.
Areas the Lento Law Firm Serves in Michigan
The school climate can vary significantly across Michigan's largest regions, reflecting a mix of urban, suburban, and rural settings, each with its own opportunities and challenges. Below is a general overview:
Northwest Michigan is renowned not only for its natural beauty but also for its plethora of educational institutions. Traverse City Area Public Schools is the largest K-12 system in the region, which has close proximity to Northwestern Michigan College, Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, and others.
Northeast Michigan prides itself as a gateway to outdoor adventures. Still, it does have a range of educational employment opportunities and academics, like Northwood University and the Alpena Community College system, to name a few.
West Central Michigan
West Central Michigan is a region of diverse landscapes and home to Grand Rapids, known as a bustling hub of innovation and arts, but also educational institutions. For instance, Franklin University, Calvin College, Cornerstone University, and Davenport University, to name a few.
East Central Michigan
East Central Michigan is a region steeped in industrial history, currently undergoing a renaissance with efforts in arts and education. Eastern Michigan University anchors the region's higher education, which is supported through a myriad of public and private K-12 programs.
Southwest Michigan is a region celebrated for its scenic lakeshores and vibrant agriculture, but also as a center of innovation and education, home to institutions like Western Michigan University.
Southeast Michigan is a region home to Lansing, the state capital, and Detroit, the state's largest city. The area is filled with plenty of notable schools and universities like the University of Michigan, Detroit Mercy University, and Wayne State University.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Michigan's Upper Peninsula is known for its rugged landscapes, abundant forests, and pristine waterways. While the area doesn't feature the vast population centers of the rest of the state, it still maintains a network of K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. For instance, Northern Michigan University, Michigan Technological University, Lake Superior State University, Finlandia University, and others.
Consequences of Losing a Professional Education Certificate
Losing a professional education certificate is a serious event that has far-reaching implications. Once revoked, the following short-term effects may occur:
- Losing eligibility to work or teach in the same school district.
- Employment benefits are terminated.
- Certificate-dependent grants or scholarships may be withdrawn.
While short-term consequences may be apparent to those subject to the state's disciplinary process, there are far more that many fail to consider. For example, whenever a certificate holder loses their credentials, it's reported in a database accessible to the public. Therefore, the following long-term effects could also become a factor:
- Without certification and the inability to become licensed in other states, barriers to employment in the education sector will stifle one's career path.
- Roles that don't require a teaching certificate may provide less pay and job security.
- The stigma from the discipline may make it difficult to re-enter the education field.
In light of these significant consequences, educators at risk of losing their certification should seek advice from the Lento Law Firm to fully comprehend their legal rights, responsibilities, and potential defense tactics.
Professional Education Certification Defense in Michigan
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team is dedicated to helping education professionals in Michigan navigate complaints against them and how the MDE will approach disciplinary action. Teachers and educators have worked tirelessly to obtain an education, press through certification requirements, and maintain MDE guidelines that extend outside school grounds. Therefore, it's essential to take the situation with the seriousness it deserves.
Commonly, local lawyers will tout that they may know the ins and outs of state-level jurisprudence and attempt to convince you that their experience is necessary for administrative proceedings. However, the process governing action in the courtroom is not the same as that governing discipline against license or certificate holders. Get the proficiency you need to properly defend yourself from having your professional education certification suspended or revoked. Call the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team at 888-535-3686 today for help, or schedule a consultation online.