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Defending your teaching license after a crime

As a teacher, you're expected to set an example. You should be the person students look up to and ask for help. Unfortunately, even the kindest and most responsible people make mistakes. The trouble with yours is that it could cost you the teaching license you worked so hard to obtain.

In Florida, educator misconduct is a catch-all term for actions a teacher takes in class or in the community that may cause harm to students or reflect poorly on the school system. Some examples would be fraud, physical abuse, drunk driving or using drugs on or off campus

Does educator misconduct have to involve students?

The interesting thing about educator misconduct is that it doesn't have to involve students. It can be any act that happens in or outside school. Essentially, a DUI could result in a teacher facing misconduct allegations.

If the teacher is found to have done something that warrants disciplinary action, then they may be held accountable not only in court but also by the Education Practices Commission. If that happens, a quasi-judicial body determines what kinds of penalties would be fair and then issues the one it chooses against the teacher's certificate. The penalties range and can include:

  • Reprimand
  • Probation
  • Fines
  • Revocation of the teaching license
  • Suspension of the teaching license

What should you do if you face the loss of your license?

The first step in any case where you could lose your license is to directly address the act you're accused of committing. For instance, if you're accused of a DUI, then you and your defense attorney should be working on a strong defense to use in court. Why? If you can prove that you are innocent or have the charge reduced, it may have a less-serious impact on your future as an educator.

It's also wise to discuss what you can do to address the Commissioner of Education and Education Practices Commission's concerns. In some cases, teachers who have been penalized through the court system still have the potential to save their licenses by showing that they're taking steps to address the problems of their pasts. For example, taking an alcohol-education course might be enough to prevent a full revocation of your license compared to if you do nothing at all.

These are a few things to know about educator misconduct. If you face the loss of your license, prepare yourself and get ready to defend your career.

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