Professional licenses may only cost a few hundred dollars to acquire and renew. However, teachers and educators understand that years of schooling often cost hundreds of thousands of dollars that must come beforehand. With all that time, energy, and passion put into becoming a teacher, it would be devastating if that official certification were suspended or revoked, putting your career and your family at risk.
Often, the process of regaining validity with state licensing and certification boards is fraught with legal complexities and burdensome bureaucracy. While re-licensure and re-certification are possible, it's better to gain the help you need to keep your professional credentials when trouble arises. The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team has the tried-and-tested experience you can depend on to assist you in defense against disciplinary boards and other ways your license can be threatened. Call 888-535-3686 today or go online immediately for help.
Missouri Teacher Certifications
When individuals decide to pursue a career as a teacher or educator in Missouri, they will need to acquire a professional license. Professional licenses are overseen by the Missouri Division of Professional Registration, but for teachers, credentials are administered by a different agency. The Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) manages the licensing—also called certification—requirements for teachers and educators and leads the adjudication of complaints.
Missouri offers different types of teaching certification, including the following:
- Initial Career Education Certificate (ICEC): Issued to first-time educators and valid for four years.
- Career Continuous Professional Certificate (CCPC): Issued to educators who have met further professional development and teaching experience requirements.
- Temporary, Provisional, and Other Certificates: These can be issued under special circumstances or for those who are completing the requirements for full certification.
Certifications are valid in various areas of education, including early childhood, elementary, middle, secondary, and special education. Teachers are usually required to participate in ongoing professional development to maintain or renew their licenses. Requirements for renewal may include a specific number of professional development hours or additional coursework. But, one of the most important obligations to maintain certification is adherence to the state's academic, professional, and personal guidelines.
Potential for Disciplinary Action
Missouri teachers and educators must fulfill DESE's nine requirements for student instruction, assessment, and character building. Nevertheless, certified teachers must also perform well professionally and keep a clean personal profile.
While DESE's policies focus on education, teachers and educators are employees of municipal school districts, each of which has a code of conduct for employees and even volunteers. Without fail, school districts now have an array of policies on behavior outside the school grounds. For instance, teachers could get in trouble for engaging in the following:
- Outside communication with students
- Public intoxication
- Unprofessional social media posts
- Unlawful activity
- Behavior detrimental to the school district
Teacher complaints may normally come from inside the school, whether accusations of bias against students, unfair testing practices, or unprofessional communications. However, complaints can come from outside sources, too. Given that schools work hard to keep up a pristine public perception, they will address complaints swiftly, which could lead to the suspension or loss of a teaching certificate.
The Disciplinary Process for Missouri Teachers and Educators
The disciplinary process usually commences when a complaint against a teacher is filed. This can be submitted by a student, parent, colleague, administrator, or other parties. Upon receiving a complaint against a teacher or other certified education personnel, DESE conducts a preliminary review to ascertain whether the complaint merits a full investigation. This review may involve the following:
- Evidence collection like lesson plans, e-mails, and other relevant materials.
- Interviewing all parties involved in the complaint.
If the initial phase determines a formal inquiry is necessary, an investigator will be assigned. The formal investigation involves gathering comprehensive evidence, which may include additional interviews, collection of electronic correspondence, classroom observations, and review of personnel records. All evidence is then compiled into a formal report, which serves as the basis for the subsequent stages of the disciplinary process.
A case is generally brought before an administrative law judge in a formal hearing. Timelines will vary depending on the facts of the case but are typically conducted within a 60-day timespan. Both the certified teacher and the state will have the opportunity to present their sides of the case, submit evidence, and cross-examine witnesses.
The judge will decide whether disciplinary action is warranted and make a recommendation to the State Board of Education (SBE). Members of the SBE will vote on whether to accept the judge's sanctions or alter them, which may include the following:
- Reprimand: A formal warning or censure.
- Probation: Continued employment under monitored conditions, sometimes with fewer responsibilities.
- Suspension: Temporary removal of the teaching certificate for a specified period.
- Voluntary surrender: Typically, part of a deal to surrender a certificate to mitigate maximum punishment.
- Revocation: Permanent loss of the teaching certificate.
Regardless of which sanctions the SBE imposes, certified teachers and educators have the opportunity to appeal the decision with the Board under limited circumstances. But they may also appeal through the Missouri justice system.
Why You Need the Lento Law Firm to Help Protect Your Teaching Certificate
Any complaint against you is a threat to your Missouri teaching certificate. Even serious allegations that turn out to be unsubstantiated can affect your teaching career for years to come. Therefore, hiring an experienced attorney well-versed in administrative proceedings is a worthwhile investment.
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team knows the kinds of pressure you are under. You want to protect your career from the adverse effects that allegations like this could cause. Not only will they make sure you are fully prepared to defend yourself in front of the SBE, 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 SBE, DESE, and other authorities.
- Collect evidence, including interviewing potential witnesses.
- Lead negotiations with the agency overseeing your certification.
- File appeals with the Missouri court system if needed.
Teachers and educators may be professionals in the learning environment but leave the legal world for an experienced attorney. It will give you peace of mind that you have a team fighting for your right to keep your teaching certification while you focus on your students.
Areas the Lento Law Firm Serves in Missouri
The school climate can vary significantly across Missouri's largest regions, reflecting a mix of urban, suburban, and rural settings, each with its own opportunities and challenges. Below is a general overview:
The St. Louis metropolitan area features a diverse educational landscape with a range of public, private, and charter schools. Like many major cities, there exist disparities in educational resources and outcomes, which are often unfairly blamed on teachers and educators. Nevertheless, the St. Louis area has schools in affluent suburbs known for their high-quality educational programs.
Like St. Louis, Kansas City has a wide array of educational options. It's a region of contrasts, with some schools excelling in academics and extracurricular activities and others struggling with graduation rates and underfunding. There is, however, a growing emphasis on alternative, innovative education models, like Montessori schools and project-based learning programs. Educational inequality is a point of concern, and there are ongoing initiatives to address this, including shifting teaching models.
Springfield, in the southwestern part of the state, has a mix of urban and rural schools. While there are fewer options compared to St. Louis and Kansas City, the area offers various public and private educational settings. Springfield schools often focus on community engagement and offer robust vocational and agricultural programs. Issues like poverty can impact school climate, particularly in more remote areas, but also in highly populated metro areas, affecting how teachers may function.
Home to the world-renowned University of Missouri, Columbia has a highly educated populace and a strong emphasis on academic achievement. The school climate here tends to be more uniformly positive, focusing on college preparation and advanced placement courses. There's also a commitment to cultural diversity and inclusivity.
The Ozark Mountains and the surrounding physiographic region cover most of the southern half of Missouri. A largely rural setting characterizes the Ozarks, and while teachers may experience smaller class sizes than in more populated metropolitan areas, schools face challenges like limited access to advanced coursework and extracurricular activities. Because of that, teachers and educators may have more responsibilities than only classroom instruction, which can weigh heavily on one's measured performance.
Consequences of Losing a Teaching Certificate
Losing a teaching certificate is a serious event in an individual's career that carries significant and far-reaching implications. Once a Missouri teaching certificate is revoked, the following short-term consequences may occur:
- Eligibility to work or teach in the same school district.
- Depending on contractual obligations, severance pay and extended benefits may also be jeopardized.
- Employment-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 instance, the revocation of a teaching certificate is generally reported in a database accessible by other states' education departments. 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.
Beyond the professional sphere, losing a teaching certificate can significantly impact one's reputation and social standing. The process and aftermath are often stressful and emotionally taxing. In some school districts, there may be a waiting period before an individual can apply for a new teaching certificate, and the application process will likely be more stringent if previous disciplinary action is on an applicant's record. Furthermore, additional coursework or professional development may be required during the reapplication process.
Because of these considerable consequences, any teacher or education facing certificate suspension or revocation should consult with legal professionals familiar with education law to understand their rights, obligations, and possible strategies for defense.
Professional License Defense for Teacher Certification in Missouri
The Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team is dedicated to helping professionals in Missouri navigate complaints against them. Teachers and educators have worked tirelessly to obtain an education, press through certification requirements, and maintain DESE and SBE guidelines. Therefore, it's important to take the situation with the seriousness it deserves.
Commonly, local lawyers will tout that they may know the ins and outs of Missouri jurisprudence. Attempting to convince you of their merits. However, courtroom proceedings are not the same as those governing licensing and certification. How an administrative hearing is handled differs significantly from those before a county or state judge. Get the experience you need to properly defend yourself from having your teaching 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.