Arizona Teacher Sexual Relationship with a Student
What are the issues if there’s ever an allegation of a teacher having a relationship of sexual nature with a student?
So, the school would likely start there. If the school found a credible allegation of a sexual relationship, they’d possibly immediately put the educator on administrative leave. If not, ask for the resignation or terminate them immediately. And when I say sexual relationship, I also include sexual abuse. So, these are very serious.
Sexual Relationship or Sexual Abuse with a Minor
The school is a mandated reporter, so they likely immediately report this to local authorities or police. Also, police will be investigating this because it is a crime. The department of child services may investigate as well.
Furthermore, they’ll report you to the State Board of Education. They’ll conduct their investigation if they think there’s a finding of any relationship of sexual nature or abuse with a minor. It can mean communications, physical, social media, etc. It is more of a broad term.
You want to be very careful to understand that. It is taken very seriously, of course, by all those administrative agencies. There would likely be a hearing at the state board level unless you decided or agreed to revoke your license.
If not, they would conduct an administrative hearing with the Professional Practices Advisory Committee.
Teacher License Revocation
They would make a finding of fact and conclusions of law if they did think there was a finding that there’s a relationship of sexual nature or abuse.
According to the State Board of Education guidelines, they would revoke the educator’s license if there was any relationship or abuse. It’s serious because the offense is severe. And so, that’s where it would usually go.
The Professional Practices Advisory Committee would then take their findings to the State Board of Education. And they would likely either affirm, deny, or amend their conclusions. Again, you may attend an administrative hearing at the state level if you disagree with the discipline.
Victim, Parents, and Staff Interview
At the school level, people would likely ask you to resign or terminate you. The investigation starts at the school level and would involve an interview with the victim or all the students involved. Maybe the alleged victim’s parents, family, and staff. They would go through communications that you allegedly had with the victim. And they might even look at video or audio evidence.
Other topics of interest include:
- What is Considered Abuse or Assault of a Student in Arizona?
- Can Arizona Teachers Get in Trouble for Social Media?
Examples of Arizona Teacher Misconduct
What are the different types of teacher misconduct within the state of Arizona?
I’m mainly speaking about educators K-12 and the public school setting here in Arizona, also charter schools in some private schools. So, what is teacher misconduct?
The easiest way to define teacher misconduct is to have you look at your employment contract. Sometimes it specifies it there. Any teacher handbook 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. They will not likely consider you to have done anything that would be misconduct.
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.
Look at School Policy For Misconduct Information
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.
Call an Attorney for More Information
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 Abuse Investigation
What happens when a teacher is under investigation for an allegation of abuse?
So, to go over the general process when a teacher is under investigation in the public school setting, charter school, and sometimes in the private school setting here in Arizona, I’m mainly speaking grades K-12.
They will notify you that you are under investigation by your school district or by your school. They’ll also let you know what the actual complaint is or what the allegation is. Subsequently, they will put you on administrative leave. It can be paid or unpaid, so you will not be able to return to school.
When put on administrative leave, they’ll send you a language saying you cannot contact anyone at the school district. It includes students, parents, and staff unless it’s someone in HR or legal. If you need anything, you can reach out to those contacts. But other than that, it’s no contact. And you may not come back and fulfill your position until the investigation is over.
School Districts Bring the News to Local Authorities
Today, I’m specifically talking about an abuse allegation, specifically abuse towards students. Now, this could be physical or emotional abuse. The list goes on from there. It also depends on what type of abuse is alleged.
However, school districts are mandated reporters. If they find any validity to the allegation, they are mandated reporters and will report you to the local authorities. So, that’s the police. The police will also open an investigation and notify child protective services here in Arizona. It is scary and sets forth a chain of severe issues for your career and even criminally.
That said, you want to make sure that you are protected. Suppose an educator is under investigation for abuse. In that case, I always recommend advising an attorney. Having them represent you ensures you are aware of the process and advocating. They’re advocating for you for the best outcome possible.
What Does the Investigation Look Like?
When the school investigates abuse, they will likely talk to any students involved, parents, and staff. They may look at emails to see if there’s any communication involved. Honestly, it just varies depending on the situation. Cameras, if there are any like physical abuse allegations. The school will decide if they think that there is enough there. Again, if there is, they will report you to the State Board of Education.
There will be an investigation against your license and a criminal investigation. The school will inform you about the local authorities and child protective services.
Again, this can be overwhelming. I always recommend advising an attorney and having them represent you throughout this process. If they find these allegations unfounded, you’ll likely come back off administrative leave and then go on accordingly. They may make some recommendations on your parameters whenever you come back if it involves a student. And then, if they find that it is validated, they will likely terminate your contract or let you resign immediately.
There are lots of different outcomes. The biggest takeaway is that school safety is as severe as it should be. But you want to ensure that you’re protecting yourself. And know that they are reporting this to other boards and agencies within the state.
What is Abuse or Assault of a Student in Arizona?
What is considered either abuse or assault of a student in Arizona?
First, we’ll start with abuse. Arizona statutes define abuse as anything that can affect a child’s safety, health, or well-being. Abuse is a broad term. It can mean verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. Anything that’s going to affect, as I said, their health, safety, or well-being.
And so, school districts, if they find any credible allegations, will investigate. They will likely speak to the victim involved, students, parents, or other staff. Furthermore, they may hand out discipline at the school level, which can be administrative leave—paid or unpaid.
They can ask you to resign, or they can terminate your contract. Schools are mandated reporters if there are credible allegations of abuse involving a student victim. So they will report you to the State Board of Education. Then there will be an investigation into your license.
They’ll also notify local authorities. So the police department will investigate, and child protective services will conduct an additional investigation. Any allegations of abuse are severe, and it’s a broad term.
What Counts as an Assault?
Assault is any physical harm or causing bodily harm to a student. And this is defined in the Arizona state statutes as well. So, it’s causing damage or causing an apprehension of immediate harm to the student. You don’t have to cause the injury physically, but if the student believes that it’s immediate, in that situation, that also could be considered assault.
Now, the assault would also potentially be looped in with a student’s abuse. Again, we’re talking about health, safety, and well-being. Likewise, schools are mandated reporters. If there are any credible allegations of assault, the school will report you to the State Board of Education. And local authorities, police, and child protective services would likely investigate. These are all very serious.
If accused of any of this, I recommend consulting, if not having an attorney represent you. If it goes to the State Board of Education, there’s an investigation against your license. There are guidelines for the type of discipline that they would hand down.
It’s likely that if you come to a negotiated settlement or it’s contested, you have a hearing before the Professional Practices Advisory Committee. They have a finding of facts and conclusions of law where they find that there was abuse or assault of a student. It’s dire.
They would either suspend you for some time or revoke your teaching license.
Can Arizona Teachers Be Disciplined for Social Media?
Can a teacher receive discipline for social media? It is a great question; I would say it’s relevant currently.
First, let’s start at the school level. Suppose a teacher, and I’m talking about public education, charter schools K-12. When you become employed with your school, they typically hand you a policy handbook. I’d say 99% of schools will have a policy on social media. And it will state what you can and can’t do and who you can and can’t communicate with.
From my experience, it’s expected that you can’t identify any students. Sometimes schools and policies talk about who you can and cannot communicate with through social media. If you are communicating with students, sometimes that’s just a violation of the policy. Therefore you’re likely to be disciplined by your school.
State Board of Education Disciplinary Actions
It may mean they place you on administrative leave and terminate you. But all those things are disciplines that the school could hand down. This discipline is just for communication. Again, read your policy carefully to stay within the school’s lines.
However, if there’s any inappropriate communication with students, it will be considered immoral or unprofessional conduct. The school will probably have to take it even further. School districts are mandated reporters. That said, if there’s any reasonable accusation, they can go ahead and report you to the State Board of Education.
They may investigate your license, especially if it’s emotional or discussing physical or sexual abuse. They will report you to the police, local law enforcement agencies, and child protective services. So, it’s serious. But this is all talking about communication directly with the students.
If you’re posting something online, maybe you appear impaired by drugs or alcohol. If it seems that you’re at work, that’s immoral, unprofessional conduct. And again, they will report you to the Board of Education and open an investigation.
It depends on the circumstances. But if the school finds anything they are mandated to report, that will automatically happen at the state board level. They may open an investigation and always refer to that student handbook if there is communication.
At the state level, they’re going to look and see if this will be considered immoral or unprofessional conduct. Does your interaction or post reasonable that you did endanger students’ health or safety, or well-being? If yes, they will likely discipline you at the state board level.
They have guidelines for the discipline they may hand out, anywhere from a letter of censure to suspension or suspension with conditions. There’s also revocation, which means they will revoke your license. So, it is serious. Currently, there is some talk of guidelines for social media at the Board of Education at the state level. But there are no current regulations.
Though again, unprofessional or immoral conduct is a catchall. It’s a very general phrase. And if the board feels like you are endangering a minor’s health, safety, or well-being, in any way. Then it is likely that they will open an investigation, and there could be potential discipline.
So, you want to be careful on your social media. Check your school’s policy because it will comply with the State Board of Education, or it will likely. If you follow that, then you should be okay. Still, watch everything you post and ensure it’s not harming your students in any way.
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