Over a half million students are enrolled in Oregon's 1,224 public K-12 schools in 175 school districts. Approximately 30,000 teachers serve these students at a rate of about one teacher for every 20 students. An additional 200,000 students are enrolled in Oregon's colleges and universities, where there is one educator for every 17 undergraduate and graduate students. Professional educators serve an important role in students' lives in Oregon and across the United States.
Not everyone can be an educator. These licensed professionals work tirelessly to gain their education and training, pass exams, undergo background checks, and obtain their licenses. When someone makes an accusation of wrongdoing against a teacher and threatens the professional license they worked so hard for, that educator must take action immediately to save their career and their good name.
If someone accuses you of professional wrongdoing, you need a Professional License Defense Team that will stand up for you against the board or other governing body and protect your rights and your future — a team with a proven track record of helping teachers like you defend their professional licenses. Contact the nationwide Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or through our online form and let us fight on your behalf.
Licensure Process for Educators in Oregon
The Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) is the licensing agency for all educators in Oregon. To be an educator in Oregon, you typically need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. This degree should include coursework related to the subject you wish to teach and pedagogical training. Teacher candidates who have a bachelor's degree but did not major in education will need a master of arts in teaching before they can become licensed.
Teacher candidates also need to complete a state-approved teacher preparation program. This program should include student teaching experience, which allows aspiring teachers to gain hands-on classroom experience.
Oregon requires all teachers to pass certain exams, such as the edTAP and Oregon Educator Licensure Assessments (ORELA) subject area exams, as well as the ORELA Protecting Student and Civil Rights in the Educational Environment assessment. Some university teaching programs meet this requirement through required coursework. Teacher candidates also must undergo a criminal background check, which may include fingerprinting.
Once teacher candidates have met all requirements, they must apply for an Initial Teaching License to the TSPC. Licenses include endorsements in certain content areas such as Mathematics, Elementary Multiple Subjects, specific World Languages, and Music. Schools and school districts assign teachers to courses based on the endorsements they hold.
Teachers must participate in ongoing Professional Development Units (PDUs) to maintain their Oregon teaching licenses. During the 2022 Legislative session, lawmakers recognized the heavy burden that the COVID-19 pandemic caused on Oregon's K-12 schools and gave authority to the Commission to suspend the verification of Professional Development Units required to renew or reinstate most licenses through December 31, 2023.
Types of Teaching Licenses in Oregon
The Oregon TSPC offers a variety of licenses designed to honor the preparation levels and backgrounds of its educators, as well as provide for the workforce needs of Oregon's school districts. Here are a few:
Preliminary Teaching: The Preliminary Teaching License is issued to new teachers who have completed a Commission-approved teacher preparation program. The Preliminary Teaching License signifies that the educator is a novice teacher who has not met the advanced competencies and experience requirements for the Professional Teaching License.
Professional Teaching: The Professional Teaching License is issued to experienced teachers with five years of successful demonstration in an advanced level of educator knowledge, skills, and dispositions.
Reciprocal Teaching: The Reciprocal Teaching License is issued to educators who have completed an educator preparation program and hold an active and valid non-provisional teaching license from another state. The purpose of the Reciprocal Teaching License is to allow an out-of-state licensed teacher to transition into the Oregon licensure system based on the credentials they earned in the other jurisdiction while they work on any missing Oregon requirements.
Restricted Teaching: The Restricted Teaching License is issued to qualified individuals with a minimum of at least a bachelor's degree and substantial preparation in the subject matter in their teaching area, but have not completed a teacher preparation program.
Teacher Leader: The Teacher Leader License is issued to educators who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in the school environment, education profession, and the larger community while consistently advancing student growth and achievement.
American Indian Language and Culture: The American Indian Languages Teaching License is issued to qualified individuals to provide the essential teachings of American Indian languages. It qualifies holders to teach prekindergarten through grade 12 in Oregon public school districts, education service districts, and charter schools in the American Indian Language authorized by the license.
Career and Technical Educator (Restricted, Preliminary, Professional): Career and Technical Educator (CTE) Licenses qualify its holder to teach in an ODE-approved Career and Technical Education Program of Study in an Oregon school district, education service district, or charter school assignments.
Charter School Registry-Teacher: The Charter School Teacher Registration is issued to non-licensed persons employed as teachers in a charter school.
Emergency: The Emergency Teaching License is issued to individuals with adequate qualifications to receive a teaching license on an emergency basis but have not completed all the requirements for a regular teaching license. The Emergency Teaching License is designed for short-term licensure only and may not continue after remedying the emergency.
Grounds for Sanctions Against Teachers/Educators in Oregon
In Oregon, the TSPC is responsible for licensing and regulating educators. The Commission has established a code of ethics and professional conduct that educators must adhere to. Violations of these standards can result in sanctions against teachers and educators. Some common grounds for sanctions or disciplinary actions against teachers and educators in Oregon may include:
- Unprofessional Conduct: This broad category can encompass a range of behaviors. Unprofessional conduct may include actions such as dishonesty, harassment, discrimination, substance abuse, or any behavior that undermines the integrity and professionalism of an educator.
- Criminal Convictions: Convictions for certain crimes, especially those involving children, may lead to sanctions against educators. These convictions can include but are not limited to child abuse, sexual misconduct, drug offenses, and violent crimes.
- Inadequate Performance: Consistently poor teaching performance, negligence, or incompetence in the classroom can be grounds for sanctions. Educators are expected to meet certain standards of competency in their teaching roles.
Other grounds for sanctions include:
- Failure to comply with licensing requirements
- Ethical violations
- Abuse or neglect of students
- Inappropriate relationships with students
- Failure to report child abuse
- Misuse of school funds or resources
- Forgery or falsification of educational records, credentials, or other documents
Adjudication Process for Teacher/Educator Licensing Issues in Oregon
The adjudication process for teacher and educator licensing issues in Oregon typically involves a series of steps that the TSPC follows to investigate and address allegations of misconduct or violations of licensure requirements:
Complaint or Allegation
The process usually begins with a complaint or allegation against a teacher or educator. Complaints can come from various sources, including students, parents, colleagues, or administrators.
The TSPC conducts an investigation to gather information and evidence related to the complaint or allegation. This may involve interviews, document review, and other forms of evidence collection.
Notice of Investigation
If the TSPC determines that there is enough evidence to warrant further action, the educator under investigation will receive a Notice of Investigation. This notice informs the educator about the nature of the complaint and the investigation process.
The educator has the opportunity to respond to the allegations in writing. They can provide their side of the story and present any evidence or witnesses on their behalf.
Review by TSPC Board
The case is presented to the TSPC Board, which is responsible for making decisions regarding educator licensure issues. The board reviews the evidence, the educator's response, and any other relevant information.
After reviewing the case, the TSPC Board makes a decision. This decision can include one or more of the following outcomes:
- Dismissal of the complaint: If the board determines that there is insufficient evidence to support the allegations, it may dismiss the complaint.
- Sanctions: If the board finds the educator has violated licensing standards or engaged in unprofessional conduct, it may impose sanctions, such as a suspension or revocation of the educator's teaching license.
If the educator is dissatisfied with the decision of the TSPC Board, they may have the right to appeal the decision through legal channels. This typically involves filing an appeal with a state court.
Decisions made by the TSPC Board regarding educator licensing issues are typically public records. This means that the outcome of the case and any sanctions imposed may be accessible to the public.
What Types of Sanctions Do Oregon Educators Face?
Educators in Oregon who are found to have violated the state's code of ethics and professional conduct or who engage in misconduct may face a range of sanctions or disciplinary actions. The specific sanctions imposed depend on the nature and severity of the violation. Here are some common types of sanctions that Oregon educators may face:
- Reprimand: A reprimand is an official written statement of disapproval issued by the TSPC. It serves as a formal warning to the educator that their behavior or actions are unacceptable.
- Probation: Probation is a disciplinary status that places certain conditions and restrictions on the educator's teaching license, such as additional training, supervision, or requirements to address the issues that led to the disciplinary action.
- Suspension: Suspension involves the temporary removal of an educator's teaching license for a specified period. During the suspension, the educator is not allowed to teach or work in an educational setting.
- Revocation: Revocation is the most severe sanction, and it results in the permanent loss of an educator's teaching license. A revoked license means the educator cannot legally teach in Oregon public schools or any educational institution that requires state licensure.
Other forms of discipline that the board may impose include fines, additional training or education, restitution, monitoring, and mediation or conflict resolution.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me if I am Facing Disciplinary Action?
If you are facing disciplinary action from the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, hiring an experienced professional defense attorney can be instrumental in protecting your rights, ensuring a fair process, and helping you navigate the complex legal and administrative aspects of your case.
An attorney can provide you with legal advice tailored to your specific situation. You need someone who will represent you throughout the disciplinary process, including communicating with the TSPC on your behalf, submitting necessary documents, and attending meetings or hearings. Your lawyer will protect your due process rights throughout the disciplinary process.
In some cases, your attorney may be able to negotiate with the TSPC to reach a resolution that is favorable to you. This could involve agreeing to certain conditions or sanctions in exchange for a less severe outcome. If negotiations fail and your case proceeds to a formal hearing, your lawyer will prepare your case thoroughly. This includes gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and developing a strong defense strategy. If the TSPC imposes sanctions against you and you believe the decision was unfair or incorrect, your attorney can help you navigate the appeals process, including filing an appeal with the appropriate legal authorities.
Disciplinary actions by the TSPC can have serious and long-lasting consequences for your teaching career, so having legal representation is essential to ensuring that your rights are upheld and that you have the best chance of achieving a fair outcome.
Why You Need an Oregon Teacher/Educator License Defense Attorney
Your Oregon teaching license is a badge of honor. You worked hard to gain the education, training, and credentials necessary to earn your professional license. Don't let an allegation of professional wrongdoing sabotage your career and your good name. Take the matter seriously and contact the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm today. Lento Law Firm's Team of education law attorneys has assisted teachers in Oregon and nationwide in defending their licenses. Contact the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team today at (888) 535-3686 or use our online form to discuss your case.