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Bad personal acts cost many teachers their professional licenses

One moment of bad judgment in your personal life can end up destroying your professional career as well -- especially if you're a teacher.

Not every wrong act committed by a teacher ends up being reported to the state authority in charge of licensing -- but when one does get reported, teachers often eventually face a hearing and the eventual loss of their teaching credentials within the state.

For many, that means involuntary unemployment and the end of their teaching career. Only a few are able to move on to other teaching positions, usually in another state -- and that's becoming less and less possible thanks to a national database that now tracks dismissals so that other schools can check for problems before they hire a new teacher.

Of course, not every incident that's reported to the licensing commission results in the loss of a teacher's certification. Sometimes, the complaint is dismissed because it isn't considered that serious or the evidence is weak. Other times, the teacher is able to make a successful appeal to the authorities for leniency, so he or she receives a reprimand instead. Teachers who are stripped of their license are also allowed to appeal the decision to an Administrative Law Judge.

Unfortunately, California is one of the strictest states in the nation when it comes to removing a teacher's license. In 2017 alone, 363 California teachers lost their licenses to teach. Compare that to Michigan, for example, where only two teachers lost their licenses.

In some cases, like drug trafficking and crimes involving sexual contact, the loss of a license is virtually guaranteed. In other cases, however, an attorney skilled at professional license defense can often make a case that will allow a teacher to keep his or her license. Some of the factors that can influence the result include:

  • Whether or not your offense will have any impact on your students or your ability to be effective in class
  • Any extenuating circumstances that led to your actions
  • Whether or not you are ever likely to repeat the behavior
  • Where you were at when the incident occurred (on or off school property)
  • What motivated your actions at the time

If you intend to fight the loss of your credentials, it's important to act swiftly and respond to all inquiries and deadlines. If you delay, you could lose your chance forever.

Source: NJ.com, "N.J. is yanking more teachers' licenses. Here's how it happens.," Kelly Heyboer, April 18, 2018

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