Arizona Board of Education Complaints
One of Arizona’s most talked-about wrongful termination cases occurred in 2014 when a teacher claimed she got fired for defending one of her students against racist bullies. The Fountain Hills Unified School District fired her for threatening five school boys, whom she found bullying an African-American student, despite working at the school for 25 years.
This case illustrates how much educators are under the spotlight as they undertake their everyday duties.
It also begs the question: What can teachers do when complaints are filed against them at the Arizona State Board of Education?
Today, the attorneys at Chelle Law highlight the role of the Arizona State Board of Education and why educators need legal help when they encounter challenges that put their licenses at risk. We appreciate educators’ role in shaping society, so we’re committed to ensuring they have a fair hearing at the Arizona Board of Education.
Our team also helps educators to negotiate and review their contracts.
What is the Role of the Arizona State Board of Education?
Abbreviated as ASBE, this board was created by the Arizona Constitution. Its primary mandate is to regulate the conduct of the state’s public school system.
The ASBE comprises eleven members:
- The superintendent of public instruction.
- Four lay members.
- A chancellor or president of a community college district.
- The president of a state college or university.
- An owner or administrator of a charter school.
- A superintendent of a high school district.
- A county school superintendent.
- A classroom teacher.
In consultation with the state senate, the Arizona governor appoints all ASBE members except the superintendent of public instruction.
They serve for a term of four years, and their roles include:
Receiving Reports on Unprofessional or Immoral Conduct
The ASBE receives complaints from certified and non-certified educators about unprofessional or immoral conduct. After that, it opens investigations to determine whether the allegations constitute unprofessional or unbecoming conduct according to Arizona law.
If formal complaints prepared by the Attorney General’s office get filed, the educator under question will be accorded due process as required by law.
Sanctions imposed by the ASBE become part of an educator’s permanent record and are often forwarded to a federal database. If that happens, the educator in question may get barred from teaching anywhere in the country.
For this reason, it’s best to have an aggressive lawyer if a complaint is filed against you at the ASBE. At Chelle Law, we’ll defend your rights and ensure you get a fair hearing.
Educator Discipline and Oversight
Under the Arizona Administrative Code (AAC), Title 7, Chapter 2, Articles 7 and 13, the ASBE is required to maintain educator oversight and discipline. In line with this, the board investigates and imposes various disciplinary actions on certified and non-certified educators who have been involved in misconduct.
The possible disciplinary actions by the ASBE after an Arizona teacher PPAC complaint hearing include censure, suspension, and license revocation.
The ASBE’s rules stipulate that Arizona educators who violate provisions of the state administrative code are deemed to have engaged in unprofessional or immoral conduct. Such educators are liable to be disciplined by the board as deemed fit.
However, the board can go overboard when handing disciplinary action or fail to listen to your side of the story. For this reason, you need an experienced teacher license defense lawyer to help guarantee the fair hearing you deserve.
What is the Professional Practices Advisory Committee?
The PPAC is a sub-committee of the ASBE tasked with conducting hearings on certified and non-certified educators in cases concerning immoral or unprofessional conduct. The committee comprises nine members in two alternating groups.
During PPAC hearings, the committee may review the educators’ initial certification and certification renewal applications. It can also hear complaints filed against educators.
Once each complaint is heard, committee members will make findings of fact as per the law. The committee will then pass a recommendation to the board for the educator’s license to either get canceled or upheld. It may also recommend other disciplinary actions by the board.
If you have an upcoming PPAC hearing, you’ll undoubtedly be worried about possible consequences such as financial penalties, suspension, and even license revocation. The worst thing you can do is to go to the hearing alone. In this regard, you need a skilled license-defense attorney to represent you.
What Are the Arizona Educator Discipline Options?
Facing the ASBE puts your career and future at stake because you’re never too sure about the consequent disciplinary action. The sad part is that you might find yourself wrongly accused or summoned for offenses outside the classroom and beyond the school environment. For instance, driving under the influence can attract a summon.
If a minor complaint gets filed against you, the chances are you’ll only receive a warning letter from the board. In this case, you’ll still be able to maintain your teaching license, but the letter will be in the public record. More serious misconduct may attract a license suspension of one to three years, while severe misconduct can lead to permanent license revocation.
Get a Teacher’s License Defense Attorney
As an educator, your license is your life; having it suspended or revoked means you can’t earn a living. Your career will be in jeopardy, regardless if someone filed a complaint against you at the ASBE or your case is due at the PPAC.
At Chelle Law, our license defense team is there to advise you on the ASBE’s administrative process and what you should expect.
Contact Chelle Law Today
We have the expertise to investigate a complaint against you and build a robust defense strategy. We aim to secure the most favorable outcome in your case because we understand the importance of your license to you.
So, contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation if someone filed a complaint ASBE and you need an aggressive educator license defense attorney.
Other Blogs of Interest
- Arizona Education Board Attorney
- Arizona Reporting of Teacher Criminal Convictions
- Arizona Teacher PPAC Complaint Hearing
Arizona Teacher Certificate Discipline Options | Education Disciplinary Action
What are the Arizona teaching certificate disciplinary options with the Arizona Board of Education?
So, you are an educator here in Arizona and likely hold a certificate from the Arizona Board of Education. Any instances of immoral or unprofessional conduct defined by statute and regulation can mean anything from breaking your teaching contract. There is a broad overview of a DUI outside the classroom, being impaired while teaching under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and unprofessional conduct with students’ communication inside or outside the school.
And it’s broken down in the discipline guidelines the board has published. But with all of you, you have a couple of different options.
Negotiation of Settlement Agreement Regarding Immoral or Unprofessional Misconduct
Let’s say a complaint of immoral or improper behavior triggers an investigation. In that case, you can negotiate a settlement deal to agree on the license discipline the committee will apply. If you can test this, there will be a hearing before the professional practices advisory committee, and they will make findings of fact and conclusions of law.
They’ll use those guidelines for appropriate discipline against your license. So, let’s talk about those a little. An investigation will bring four main types of discipline against your license.
Four Types of Discipline Information
So, the first one is a letter of a cent. It is a public discipline, so it’s searchable. And there will be the finding of facts and conclusions of law on the circumstances regarding your discipline.
Next is a suspension. Your license could be suspended anywhere from one to three years. Again, it would help if you looked at the guidelines the board has published.
And then there’s suspension with conditions. Those conditions might be any counseling or rehabilitation program—things like that. But it’ll specify in the actual discipline what needs to happen and what you must complete.
And then lastly, there’s revocation, which means revocation of your license. So, you cannot hold a teaching certificate in Arizona. They will take away your license.
So, there are just four broad categories. The suspension can be for different periods in the conditions.
There may be things to consider that you must comply with before they lift the suspension with these discipline guidelines. And the types or the options of discipline the board or the professional practices.
An advisory committee will also consider any aggravating circumstances. These are things that are going to count against you. So, this is prior discipline, especially if it’s a similar act or mitigating circumstances that may help your case. If you’re new to the profession, you didn’t know certain things that may help your case that the board would consider.
However, there are only those four categories of discipline. Of course, if they dismiss the complaint, there will be no discipline. That would be the best outcome.
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