North Carolina educators face many challenges as they attempt to navigate the state's educational standards, foster inclusive learning environments, and learn how to integrate technological advancements that seem to change by the week. Of course, all of this work is often unappreciated by the public and comes at the expense of lower wages and longer hours at work. Amidst their noble pursuits, misunderstandings and mistakes may put North Carolina teachers in a position where they are at risk of losing their professional teaching licenses, placing their reputation and livelihood at risk. If the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction investigates you for possible licensure violations, you can challenge this process and fight for your license.
Our Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm has experience standing up to the North Carolina Bureaucracy and can help you carve a path forward. We understand the work you have put into earning your license and your many sacrifices. Contact us today by calling (888) 535-3686 or filling out our convenient online contact form.
The North Carolina State Board of Education
The North Carolina State Board of Education was established in 1775 and is tasked with setting “policy and general procedures for public school systems across the state,” overseeing teacher license qualifications, testing requirements, and education standards. While specific requirements vary depending on the level and subject matter, teachers in North Carolina must meet the following minimum licensure requirements established by the board.
North Carolina teachers must, at minimum, hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Completing the state's Approved Educator Preparation Program is also required through undergraduate studies or post-baccalaureate programs.
North Carolina teachers must also pass the Praxis Subject Assessment specific to their intended licensure area. Teachers pursuing a degree in Elementary Education or Special Education must also pass the Pearson Test for Reading Foundation and General Education Curriculum.
Educators who have not completed a traditional educator preparation program within the state must complete the North Carolina Residency Licensure Program. This program allows out-of-state teachers to complete a residency instruction program while teaching within the state.
North Carolina teachers must also complete a criminal background check, verified health history form, and application to the North Carolina State Board of Education. Although teaching experience is not a mandatory requirement for initial licensure, many school districts may require that applicants have teaching experience or relevant experience in their chosen area of pursuit.
The North Carolina State Board of Education reserves the right to deny an application for licensure in the following instances:
- The use of fraud, concealment, or material misrepresentation throughout the application process.
- A conviction of an underlying crime demonstrating an inability to perform professional functions effectively.
- Dismissal by a local board due to an applicant's misconduct or inability to perform professional functions effectively.
- Dismissal by a local education agency due to the applicant's physical or mental incapacity.
- Previous resignation from a local education agency without providing 30 days' notice, absent exceptional circumstances.
- Other illegal, unethical, or lascivious conduct demonstrating an inability to perform professional functions effectively.
North Carolina Teaching Licenses must be renewed every five years. Teaching seeking renewals must demonstrate that they have taught for a sufficient amount of time within the five years and completed the required number of continuing education units. Educators who have lost their license for failure to meet these requirements, are placed on a mandatory improvement plan, or have had their license revoked for professional performance issues (discussed below) must apply for reinstatement of their licenses.
Conduct and Responsibilities of North Carolina Teachers
In the event of unprofessional, unethical, or immoral conduct, the North Carolina State Board of Education has the right to complete a thorough investigation and issue a license suspension or revocation decision. Before doing so, however, the State Board of Education must determine that the educator has failed to meet their required ethical, moral, or professional conduct expectations.
Ethical and Moral Responsibilities
North Carolina educators are held to a strict policy of ethical and moral responsibility, which “demonstrate a commitment to the teaching and learning process with accountability to students . . . professional growth . . . professional judgment . . . and integrity.” Under this policy, educators must uphold the following commitments:
- Protect students from conditions that circumvent the learning environment or are detrimental to the student's health and safety.
- Maintain an appropriate relationship with students free from inappropriate sexual or romantic relationships, personal gratification, or ill intent.
- Evaluate students based on grades and performance.
- Discipline students justly and fairly.
- Refrain from deliberately humiliating or embarrassing students.
- Maintain confidentiality with students except for professional reasons or compliance with procedures, protocols, or statutes.
Under this same policy, North Carolina teachers are also held to stringent professional requirements demonstrating their commitment to the public, students, and the teaching profession. Some of the required professional responsibilities of North Carolina educators include:
- A commitment to create a classroom environment that is conducive to learning.
- The ability to acknowledge the diverse backgrounds and views of students, their families, and colleagues.
- A commitment to keep contractual duties absent substantive reason.
- The ability to participate in the professional decision-making process.
- A commitment to pursue growth and development in the teaching profession.
- The ability to be a positive role model for students, the public, and community members.
- The ability to exercise honesty, free from dishonesty, fraud, misrepresentation, or deceit.
- Refrain from possessing or using substances while teaching or on school property.
- Refrain from the misuse of public funds.
- A commitment to act in accordance with all other requirements as outlined in Chapter 115C of the North Carolina General Statutes.
The Disciplinary Process
Under Chapter 115C, Subchapter 1 of the State's General Provisions, The North Carolina State Board of Education may suspend or revoke a state-issued license for ethical, moral, or professional conduct. Throughout this disciplinary process, North Carolina Teachers must be given Due Process. This legal term ensures an accused person is given the right to be notified about the allegations against them and present their side of the story before a neutral third party. The state ensures that educators are given due process by conducting disciplinary proceedings in the procedural steps.
A complaint is made to the North Carolina State Board of Education by a student, public member, colleague, or supervisor alleging professional, ethical, or moral misconduct. Complaints can be made confidentially, depending on who is reporting the misconduct.
After receiving a complaint, the State Board of Education investigates the allegations and notifies the teacher that a complaint has been lodged against them. Throughout this process, the board may ask to speak to witnesses, review documents, or inspect other evidence of misconduct. During this investigatory period, educators are allowed to respond to the allegations against them, usually in writing, and provide any additional evidence in their favor. Educators must be notified about the investigation results and have a report copy.
If the State Board of Education determines an underlying basis for license suspension or revocation, the matter will proceed to a formal hearing. Though these hearings are administrative, they still operate like a small trial, allowing the educator and the state to present evidence on their behalf, examine witnesses, and make arguments. State-appointed counsel will represent the state. Educators may also select an attorney to represent them.
Although you may feel tempted to represent yourself at these hearings, they are no small task, especially for a layperson who is not well-versed in the various federal, state, or local laws that will dictate the outcome of your case. Moreover, state-appointed counsel will be well-versed in the applicable laws and policies and have the entire state's resources at their disposal. Working with our Professional License Defense Team ensures that you are well-matched at the hearing and approaching your case in a strategic manner that will optimize your chances of success.
A Decision is Issued
After the hearing, the State Board of Education will issue a decision, ensuring the educator receives a written copy. Decisions can vary from case to case, ranging from license suspensions, revocations, and performance improvement requirements. Additional sanctions such as fines or completion of continuing education courses may also be ordered.
If the educator disagrees with the decision by the State Board of Education, they may file an appeal. Appeals must adhere to strict timelines and filing requirements. Requests can be made to the State Superior, Appeal, and even Supreme Courts if necessary. Like the hearing, appeals are earnest and will be fought by state-appointed counsel. Our Professional License Defense Teamhas helped teachers nationwide appeal licensure violations.
Can I Have My License Reinstated?
Yes. If your license was revoked, you can petition to request a reinstatement. Reinstatement requests must be made within a specified timeframe and are subject to the approval of any other orders by the State Board of Education.
What About Private School Teachers?
Private school teachers in North Carolina are not required to have a state-issued certification or teaching license. Private schools may have hiring and retention policies that can subject private school teachers to termination for unprofessional conduct. If you are a teacher at a private school such as Charlotte Country Day School, Providence Day School, Durham Academy, Ravenscroft School, or Trinity Academy and are facing possible termination for allegations of unprofessional conduct, contact our Professional License Defense Team for assistance by calling (888) 535-3686 or filling out our convenient online contact form.
Consequences of Losing Your North Carolina Teaching License
Losing your North Carolina teaching license can have long-lasting financial and personal consequences on your life. Losing your license can strain your personal relationships, bleeding into your relationship with your spouse, children, and friends. Losing your license or simply having your license challenged can also damage your professional reputation, making it difficult for you to obtain future employment. Finally, losing your teaching license can disrupt your pension benefits and retirement plans, especially if you had planned on a long-term career in education.
How the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm Can Help
Our Professional License Defense Team will take the time to understand your unique challenges. We are equipped to challenge the state's bureaucracy and harness the legal nuances, policies, and procedures to craft a strategic defense that will optimize your chances of success. Working with our team will also give you peace of mind, allowing you to focus on your career, family, and well-being while we do the heavy lifting.
Areas Our Professional License Defense Team Serves
Our Professional License Defense Team is available to assist teachers facing licensure actions in all 100 counties located within North Carolina as well as the following Metropolitan Areas and some school districts they partially encompass:
- Charlotte-Concord Gaston
- Gaston County Schools
- Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill
- Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
- Wake County Schools
- Orange County Schools
- Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point
- Winston Salem/Forsyth County Schools
- Guilford County Schools
- Davidson County Schools
- Rockingham County Schools
- Asheville City Schools
- Buncombe County Schools
- Henderson County Schools
- Rocky Mount-Wilson-Roanoke Rapids
- Roanoke Rapids Graded School District
- Roanoke Rapid City Schools
- Nash-Rocky Mount Schools
- Greenville-New Bern
- Pitt County Schools
- Craven County Schools
Our Professional License Defense Team can also assist private teachers in fighting allegations in Hope Christian Schools, Albuquerque Academy, Sandia Preparatory School, and the Bosque School.
Fight for Your North Carolina Teaching License
Don't fight these allegations alone! Our Professional License Defense Team not only cares about your professional reputation and ability to provide for your family, but we are equipped to face the resources that the North Carolina State Board of Education has on its side. Contact us today, anytime, day or night, for a consultation by calling (888) 535-3686 or using our online contact form.