Who is responsible for disciplining educators?
Prior to 1995, the Commissioner of Education was responsible for ruling on matters related to the sanction of educator certificates. Senate Bill 1 (1995) required SBEC to propose rules for disciplinary proceedings and sanctions. Since March 31, 1999, SBEC has been responsible for disciplining educators for conduct indicating unsuitability to instruct.
What kinds of behavior can lead to disciplinary action by SBEC?
SBEC may take disciplinary action against a certified educator for the following reasons:
- an educator has conducted school or education activities in violation of law;
- an educator is unworthy to instruct or supervise the youth of the state;
- an educator has violated the Code of Ethics;
- an educator has failed to report or has hindered the reporting of child abuse or the known criminal history of an educator as required by law and Board rules;
- an educator has abandoned his or her contract;
- an educator has failed to cooperate with a Board investigation;
- an educator has been convicted of a crime directly related to the duties and responsibilities of the education profession, or
- an educator has violated the security or integrity of a state assessment.
The above list is not exclusive. SBEC may take disciplinary action against an educator on other grounds or measures available by law.
What kinds of crimes does SBEC consider to be directly related to the duties and responsibilities of the education profession?
- any crime involving moral turpitude;
- any crime involving sexual or physical abuse of a minor or student or other illegal conduct with a minor or student;
- any crime for which the underlying facts would support a felony conviction for possession, transfer, sale, distribution, or conspiracy to possess, transfer, sell, or distribute any controlled substance;
- any crime involving school property or funds;
- any crime involving an attempt by fraudulent or unauthorized means to obtain or alter any certificate or permit that would entitle a person to hold or obtain a position as an educator;
- any crime that occurs wholly or in part on school property or at a school-sponsored activity; or
- felonies involving driving while intoxicated.
What kinds of disciplinary action can SBEC take?
SBEC may take the following action:
- require the withdrawal of a person from an educator preparation program;
- place restrictions on the issuance, renewal, or holding of a certificate, either indefinitely or for a set term;
- issue an inscribed reprimand, which is a formal, published censure that appears on the face of the educator's official certification records;
- issue a non-inscribed reprimand, which is a formal, unpublished censure that does not appear on the face of the educator's official certification records.
- suspend a certificate for a set term; or
- revoke or cancel, which includes accepting the surrender of, a certificate without opportunity for reapplication for a set term or permanently.
Does SBEC only investigate and discipline teachers?
No. SBEC can investigate and discipline anyone who holds a certificate issued under Chapter 21, Subchapter B of the Texas Education Code. This includes teachers, librarians, counselors, educational diagnosticians, administrators and paraprofessionals. Additionally, the Board may investigate and take disciplinary action against applicants for certification, examinees taking certification exams, anyone in an educator preparation program and persons erroneously issued a certificate.
How does an individual file an allegation of misconduct against an educator?
Mail your complaint of misconduct to the attention of the Director of Educator Investigations, 1701 N. Congress, 5th Floor, Austin, Texas 78701. The letter must identify the certified educator against whom the complaint is being filed, provide specific information about the nature and substance of the alleged misconduct, state the names and addresses of any witnesses, as well as the name and address of the individual filing the complaint. Anonymous complaints will not be accepted or considered by Investigations’ staff.
To efficiently administer and implement the SBEC’s purpose, the TEA staff sets priorities for the investigation of complaints based on the severity and immediacy of the allegations and the likelihood of harm posed by the subject of the investigation. Not all complaints will be investigated by Educator Investigations’ staff. If you have not already done so, you should share your concerns with your local school board, and/or district administrators. This may offer you the best option to resolve your concerns.
Who will hear the complaint?
If a determination is made that the misconduct warrants disciplinary action against an educator’s certificate and attempts to resolve the matter through settlement are not productive, a complaint will be filed at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). Contested cases will be heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ) at SOAH. The ALJ makes findings of fact and conclusions of law based on the evidence presented at hearing by TEA and the educator and the ALJ makes a recommendation for sanction to SBEC. SBEC determines the appropriate sanction, if any, and enters a Final Order.