Teaching is an admirable but often thankless profession that carries high standards and expectations. As a licensed teacher, you've worked hard to obtain your teaching credentials, and you probably work countless extra hours outside of the school day in order to serve your students. That's why it's important to recognize that allegations of misconduct, no matter how small or unfounded, can put your entire career at risk.
Professional Licensure Concerns for Teachers
The Lento Law Firm is a professional license defense law firm that offers legal representation and advocacy for clients nationwide. With a deep understanding of the challenges facing the teaching profession, the attorneys of the Lento Law Firm are committed to helping you obtain the best possible outcome if your teaching license and credentials are under scrutiny.
In this article, we'll explore common allegations that could cause a teacher to lose their license and certification, what happens when someone files a complaint, and the role of a professional license defense attorney in helping to save your teaching career.
Common Allegations That Could Result in Losing Your License
Teachers can lose their licenses and credentials for a wide range of offenses. These offenses include, but are not limited to:
Sexual misconduct with students
This is one of the most common allegations of teacher misconduct, which includes both physical and non-physical forms of misconduct. Some examples include sexting, sexual harassment, making sexually suggestive comments to a student, and inappropriate comments.
Drug and alcohol offenses
This includes possession, sale, or distribution of alcohol/drugs, giving alcohol to minors, and so on.
Physical and/or verbal abuse of students
If a student alleges you've hit, kicked, shoved, or otherwise physically harmed them—or even just threatened to do so—you could lose your license.
Examples include artificially inflating or deflating grades and falsifying student records.
The board responsible for issuing your teaching credentials will investigate any allegations of wrongdoing, and discipline can include revocation, suspension, fines, probation, or other penalties. Most frequently, the penalty is the loss of your license.
What Happens When Someone Files a Complaint Against Your License and Credentials?
When someone files a complaint against your teaching credentials or license, the licensing board will take it very seriously. Each state has its own disciplinary process, but for licensed instructors, the process is usually fairly streamlined.
After receiving the complaint, the board initiates an investigation to determine whether the allegations are valid and whether there's evidence supporting them. The investigation can include the review of documents, interviews with witnesses, and gathering of evidence. The board may also ask you to provide a written response.
If the board discovers the allegations have merit, they may offer to sign a consent order with you instead of holding a formal hearing. A consent order is a legally binding agreement that allows you to voluntarily comply with the board's recommended disciplinary actions. It also usually requires you to admit to the allegation. We wouldn't recommend these, generally. If no consent order is offered or signed, you will likely be summoned to a formal hearing to answer the complaint.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the board will render a final determination as to what disciplinary action will be imposed, which could include the revocation of your license and/or certification.
Less Severe Penalties to Retain Your License
In some cases, the board may impose lesser penalties that allow you to keep your teaching license, such as fines or a formal censure, depending on the severity of the allegations. However, even these lesser penalties may damage your career, as any disciplinary action usually becomes part of your public record. Hiring a skilled professional license defense attorney like those at the Lento Law Firm can greatly reduce the risk of harm to your reputation and increase your chances of keeping your credentials intact.
Why Do You Need an Attorney to Help with the Complaint Against Your Teaching License?
As soon as someone files a complaint against you, the licensing board will begin actively looking for evidence to support the complaint. Even the things you say or do in response could ultimately be used against you. This puts you at an immediate disadvantage because the board has a low burden of proof and doesn't have to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Hiring an attorney helps ensure your side is heard and your rights are protected. In many cases, the attorney can negotiate directly with the board to resolve the issue favorably, including reduced penalties or dropping the complaint completely.
An experienced attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case, and their knowledge of the complex licensing and disciplinary processes can be invaluable. For example, the Lento Law Firm can help you build a defense strategy, gather evidence and witnesses, and assume the role of your legal representative in all interactions between you and the board. They can also prepare a persuasive written response to the complaint, including supporting evidence. Finally, if needed, they can defend you in a formal hearing.
When Should You Talk to an Attorney?
As soon as you learn of a complaint against your teaching credentials or license, you should contact a skilled professional license defense attorney. The sooner you call an attorney, the more time they'll have to develop a defense strategy and collect evidence. Waiting until you're summoned for a hearing reduces your chances of a favorable outcome because the board's already compiled a case against you. In some cases, the attorney can even prevent the need for an investigation to go forward by getting the complaint dismissed before it gets to a hearing stage.
Professional License Defense for Teachers and Educators
Facing allegations of professional misconduct can be a highly stressful and potentially devastating experience for any licensed teacher. A teaching license is the key to your career, and its loss can have significant and long-term consequences. At the Lento Law Firm, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to help you navigate the disciplinary process and achieve the best possible outcome. By contacting a professional license defense attorney, you can ensure you have the best chance of protecting your teaching credentials and your future.
If you're facing accusations of professional misconduct as a teacher, don't take chances with your livelihood. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 or online to learn more about how to protect your teaching license and your future.