Arizona Professional Practices Advisory Committee
What is the Professional Practices Advisory Committee with the Arizona Board of Education?
Before I go into the advisory committee, let’s talk about how you may become involved with this group of individuals. Suppose you’re a teacher and you’re teaching public school K-12. Then, it’s a requirement for you to have a license under Arizona with the state board of education.
Suppose there are any complaints of unprofessional conduct as a teacher against your license. In that case, you’ll be under investigation.
Now, to backtrack, it usually starts at your school level. Suppose there’s an allegation of unprofessional conduct with students: health and safety, and other staff. It can also be an educator’s misconduct or unprofessional conduct. That is even what you do outside of school. It could be criminal activity, a DUI, or things like that.
Committee Involved in the Investigation
Then your school committee is likely to investigate. And they may decide that it stops there if it’s not substantiated. However, the committee will likely pass discipline to you if it is confirmed. That might require you to resign, or they may terminate your employment agreement.
And as mandated reporters, they’ll likely report you to the state board of education. It’s probably the way your license could be in danger.
Suppose parents, fellow educators, and students feel like there’s any unprofessional conduct. Then, they may all report to the committee of the state board of education. Once a complaint against you as an educator starts, the state board of education committee will let you know. You’ll receive an official letter informing you that you’re under investigation.
Suppose they feel like there are any substantiated claims. The Advisory Committee will conduct an administrative hearing in that case. They are a group of seven individuals, there are two groups, and they alternate.
During the hearing, you may represent yourself or have counsel represent you on your behalf. You can put forth evidence. You can submit exhibits, and you can also examine witnesses, have character witnesses, and things like that.
Now, the Advisory Committee may also do that. And after the hearing happens, they will have a finding of fact and conclusions of law.
State Board of Education Has the Final Say
Then, they’ll recommend it to the committee of the state board of education. That is if they feel your license needs discipline. They have four options:
- Letter of censure
- Suspension with conditions
- Revocation of your license.
That means your license undergoes revocation for a period. Once the committee has decided, they’ll pass that along to the state board of education committee. Then, they’ll either affirm, amend, or deny the recommendation of the Professional Practices Advisory Committee.
And that’s where this group ends. They conduct the hearing and put on evidence. They’ll find out if they feel like there should be any discipline. Then, they’ll suggest that.
I recommend having an attorney help you through this process because it’s serious. It’s your license to practice and to be an educator. So, this could affect you in the future.
Other topics of interest:
Arizona Reporting of Teacher Criminal Convictions
What are the criminal reporting requirements for teachers in Arizona?
Suppose a teacher in Arizona holds a license and teaches at a public, private, or charter school. I’m speaking to grades K-12. Suppose you teach any of those grades and receive a conviction of criminal charges. In that case, the court will report your conviction to the State Board of Education.
They’ll hand over any of their findings of:
- Conclusions of law
- Anything that led up to your conviction
It is a requirement by Arizona Revised Statute 13-3990.
Educators Background Check Laws in Teaching
The court clerk will hand over those documents to the State Board of Education for any conviction. So, this is important to remember as an educator. Suppose this happens, and they pass it to the State Board of Education. In that case, it may be an act of unprofessional or immoral conduct.
That is especially anything having to do with a minor:
- If they’re a victim of the crime
- They get into danger, or any child or violent substance abuse
All of which would likely go under investigation by the State Board of Education.
It’s essential to report it yourself, but know that if there’s a conviction in Arizona, the court will send it directly to the State Board of Education.
Suppose you receive a sentence for a criminal act outside of the state. Then, you should look at those state laws and do some research, but you’ll likely have to self-report anyway. So, keep that in mind in the future.
Also, as I said, if the State Board of Education considers it potentially unprofessional or immoral conduct, they’ll open an investigation. There are discipline guidelines for immoral or unprofessional conduct. You can negotiate a settlement and agree on the discipline, the findings of facts, and the conclusions of the law. Or if you decide you want to take it to a hearing with the Professional Practices Advisory Committee.
So, the takeaway from all these things is getting a conviction for a criminal act within Arizona. The court will forward all that information to the State Board of Education. An investigation will likely proceed with those findings.
Examples of Arizona Teacher Misconduct
What are the different types of professional teacher misconduct within Arizona? I’m mainly speaking about educators K-12 and the public school setting here in Arizona. Then, also charter schools in some private schools.
So, what is teacher misconduct?
The easiest way to define this is to have you look at your employment contract. Sometimes it specifies it there. Professional teacher handbooks or policies within your school will likely spell out every scenario you can. They can’t deal with students, staff, and parents outside of school. And so, if you follow those policies and understand them clearly, you will not likely be considered to have done anything that would be misconduct.
Possible Forms of Abuse on Students
Again, start with your employment contract, handbook, or anything the school committee provided you that explains it. You also can look at the State Board of Education here in Arizona. They have regulations on what is unprofessional conduct, what is misconduct, and what you can and can’t do with students. And the list goes on from there. So, those are the first two places to look for examples.
Misconduct would also be anything that threatens the health and safety of the students. That’s the school’s number one priority, as it should be.
And so, anything that threatens their safety or security is misconduct. Any of the following:
- Sexual abuse
Anything like that. That’s misconduct.
Search for School Policy Guidelines
It gets confusing when there are interactions with parents about students’ cultural differences. The area might get a little gray. Again, look at the school’s policies to see if they have guidelines on this type of communication or actions and if that falls within the misconduct range.
Another thing teachers forget to consider is that misconduct can also be with other staff. Examples of that may be different types of verbal interactions. It could be sexual harassment. Those are forms of misconduct.
And even further, a teacher’s actions outside of school can also be misconduct. And what I mean by that is the most common examples I would say probably are a DUI, domestic violence, and arrest assault. The list goes on from there.
But suppose you’re committing severe crimes or arrested outside the classroom, even on time. In that case, it’s still misconduct. So, you want to be careful. I know it’s hard being an educator. You always want to do your best, but you want to ensure you’re familiar.
Advantages of Being Familiar With School Policies
I keep saying this, but be familiar with all the school’s policies on what you can and can’t do in the classroom. That way, there are no surprises. Suppose a school thinks you have done something classified as misconduct. Then, they’re likely to open an investigation. They’ll give you notice of this. And then you’re likely put on administrative leave. It can be paid or unpaid. Then, the school will investigate whether this misconduct affects student safety or security.
If they find that it rose to the level of misconduct, they may ask you to resign as a teacher. It may terminate you. It may wait until the end of the school year; they may do it immediately. It depends. There’s a scale.
Also, schools act as mandated reporters, so especially if it’s anything about a student, they are very likely to report you to the State Board of Education. So, there may be an investigation for your license. Local authorities, like local police departments, may open an investigation. The department of child services may also be notified and start to investigate. Again, misconduct is a scale. There are mitigating circumstances around it.
Getting a Lawyer as an Advantage
So, you want to be very careful handling it if there are any misconduct allegations. I always recommend advising an attorney. Suppose you do not have one to represent you during the whole process with the school committee. Then, protect yourself, and know your rights and what you can and can’t do.
Arizona Teacher Unprofessional Conduct Dismissal | Arizona Teachers
What is unprofessional or immoral conduct for a teacher in Arizona?
It is often used by school districts when deciding to discipline a teacher. And also with the State Board of Education.
So, what is unprofessional or immoral conduct? Arizona regulation R7-2-1308 defines what unprofessional or immoral conduct is. There are 15 things listed. They’re a catchall. The last item on there is number 15. It says any conduct that would harm the teaching profession is unprofessional.
I can go through each of those, but we could start with misappropriating funds. Suppose you’re using money given by the state or federal government. You’re not using them as you should or taking them for your gain. In that case, that’s unprofessional or immoral conduct.
Then you can go into any alleged abuse against a student. That could mean:
- Sexual abuse
Any of those that would fall in that category is unprofessional or immoral.
One popular thing I see from clients nowadays is when a teacher breaks the contract mid-year. They ask to be released. The school district says no, there’s a requirement to stay but they break their contract. It can be immoral or unprofessional conduct.
Unprofessional Conduct for Teachers
It also includes substance abuse issues, even outside of the classroom. If it would affect students’ well-being, safety, or health. Then, it would be unprofessional or immoral conduct.
Next, getting impaired while at school under the influence of alcohol and drugs is on the list. You may not consider if you misrepresent or lie on any documents, records, or applications. That comes into consideration.
Unprofessional conduct mainly focused on students. However, staff, parents, and fellow teachers could commit unprofessional conduct. So, you want to keep that in mind. Again, the catchall is anything that would endanger or discredit the teaching profession. That’s the presentation of the statement of the regulation. A school district can investigate if they reasonably suspect that unprofessional conduct occurred.
They get a mandate to report. It makes them disclose any of that to the following:
- Legal authorities
- Child protective services
- State Board of Education
The latter would then conduct their investigation.
Arizona Teacher Fingerprint Clearance Card Suspension | Arizona Fingerprinting Board
What happens when a teacher’s Fingerprint Clearance Card gets suspended?
Here in the state of Arizona, there’s a requirement for education professionals to have a Fingerprint Clearance Card. This process is straightforward after you receive the card. However, suppose you’re under arrest within the state of Arizona. In that case, there’s a notification on the Board of Fingerprinting. Then, they may suspend your Fingerprint Clearance Card.
Well, what does card suspension mean for you?
Most school districts do have information in their employment contracts. If not, their teacher’s policy handbooks specify that you must notify the school if arrested or convicted of a crime. You also may be required to notify the State Board of Education directly, depending on the offense and the arrest. Still, the arrest itself will trigger a suspension of your Fingerprint Clearance Card and may harm your teaching career.
Vital Information Regarding Card Suspension
Your card suspension can be detrimental to your employment with your school district. So, what happens after your card suspension?
If your card is under suspension, you can ask for a good cause exception or to lift the card suspension. Most of the time, you must prove the disposition of your case. That means dismissal of the charges or your criminal conviction and sentence to lift card suspension.
Suppose you provide all that information to the Fingerprint Clearance Card, the committee on the Board of Fingerprinting can do these on your card:
- Lift the card suspension
- Grant a reasonable cause exception
- May take it to a hearing where you would meet with an administrative law judge to discuss your case(to see whether to grant you an exception)
All the things to remember most are that if you have a Fingerprint Clearance Card here in Arizona, an arrest will trigger a card suspension. So, you want to be aware of that.
Also, as we talked about, you can ask for a good cause exception to lift card suspension or go to an administrative hearing to show the disposition of your case. That means done. Over with, there’s nothing pending. You’re not a danger to the children you would be working with, and that is the cause why you have your card.
Arizona Teacher License Defense Questions?
Complaints, Investigations, Appeals and more!