If your teacher's license is in jeopardy, you can't simply wait to see how things will turn out. Your license is your livelihood. You have to take action immediately to protect it. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team can help. Call 888-535-3686 or use our automated online form to find out how.
State Education Departments Have Broad Authorities
It's sometimes difficult to sort out the facts in local news station stories, so it's impossible to tell if Nathanael Deese, the subject of a Fox Carolina story from November 1, 2023, was guilty of breaking the law or not. According to the report, Deese, who was at one time an assistant principal in Greenville County, South Carolina, was taken into custody after allegedly pointing a gun at several people.
Whether or not Deese was, in fact, guilty of the crimes with which he was charged is beside the point, though. What this story really reveals is just how much authority state departments of education have over teachers. That's something that, if you're a teacher, you should probably know.
The South Carolina Department of Education (DOE) suspended Deese's license less than a month after the alleged incident. Prosecutors could not possibly have had time to convict Deese in that time span, which means Deese had no opportunity to demonstrate his innocence before the DOE acted. Further, the DOE's decision was based on an alleged event that took place away from campus. In other words, Deese's private conduct away from school was used to justify the DOE's decision.
Departments of education and other state licensing agencies generally have rules and procedures in place for conducting investigations and adjudicating cases. These rules and procedures are in place to protect the due process rights of the accused and ensure that justice is done. If you find yourself accused of professional misconduct, normally, you would expect to have an opportunity to defend yourself, submit evidence, call witnesses, and rebut the department's case. Ordinarily, no one is supposed to lose their license over an allegation, and ordinarily, what you do in your private life should have no bearing on your role as a licensed educator.
Most state laws include loopholes, though loopholes that allow education departments to act immediately if they believe there is a threat to student safety. The South Carolina DOE makes clear, in this case, that they felt Deese represented “a threat to the health, safety, and welfare of students who may be under [his] instruction.” Feelings are not facts, though, and it is impossible to escape the conclusion that even had Deese been entirely innocent, the DOE's actions would have been the same.
You cannot count on your state DOE to afford you the same rights you'd be given in a court of law. The rules are different, and you need to recognize that an arrest, even for conduct that has nothing whatsoever to do with your role as an educator, can be grounds for license suspension.
It's one reason why it's so important you have an attorney from the Lento Law Firm by your side. We can make sure you're treated fairly and that you have every chance to prove your innocence.
Trust the Lento Law Firm
The Lento Law Firm believes in what you do. We're dedicated to helping educators protect themselves and get the justice they deserve. We know the law. We know your rights. And we're ready to do whatever it takes to get you the best possible resolution to your case.