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Criminal convictions can impact your teaching career in Florida

Florida has many state requirements for teachers. Teachers must attend college, pass exams and meet certain moral standards. The state licensing board specifically requires that candidates disclose criminal convictions on applications for their Florida educator certificate provided by the Bureau of Educator Certification.

There are several criminal offenses which leave an individual ineligible for a teaching certificate. Anyone accused of an offense who hopes to retain their professional license needs to take immediate steps to defend their freedom and their career against the pending charges.

A broad range of offenses can disqualify teachers

Florida law includes dozens of offenses that can damage your professional aspirations. As you might expect, there are several disqualifying criminal offenses related to child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of minors that can end your teaching career. Abuse of vulnerable adults is also well-represented on the list.

However, a pending criminal case may not have anything to do with an offense against children or vulnerable adults. Allegations of grand theft, certain drug offenses, assault charges and many other criminal offenses can preclude you from retaining your Florida educator certificate or receiving it when you apply.

It is important to review the law and determine if your pending charges fall into one of the many prohibited categories. If they do, you need to consider a defense strategy against the criminal charges. You will also need to begin building a case to defend your certification in front of the board, if necessary.

Licensing review hearings are critical to your future

Facing the licensing board can be a turning point for your professional future. If you have received notice from the Florida Board of Education of their intention to review your qualifications, you must take immediate action to protect your career and your future. Evidence and testimony can help you build a case to protect your certification.

It's important to understand that even if you take a plea deal for a lesser offense, the board may view such a plea as proof that you were guilty of the original offense and take action against your license.

While it is possible to appeal a decision, the best option is to be prepared before you head into any meeting with the Board of Education. You have spent years of your life and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars on education to become a teacher. Don't let a simple mistake or criminal conviction hold you back from the career path that matters to you.

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