In Arizona, receiving a conviction for a DUI may also mean facing harsh penalties. Teachers with a DUI conviction can endanger their occupation—losing a job you love and one many depend on you can mean a significant change in life. It is possible, however, to maintain your teaching credentials even if you get a DUI.
Fingerprint Clearance Cards for Teachers
Arizona requires teachers to have a fingerprint clearance card because they work with children and young people. The card allows a person to work in a position of trust. If there are criminal
convictions in the teacher’s background, they will get denied a card. If they already have a card when a conviction occurs, they can have their card revoked or suspended. They can lose
Conviction of a DUI
Once a conviction occurs, you could lose your teaching certificate and get fired immediately. In some cases, you might be able to continue teaching, but you won’t be able to renew your contract. It will depend on the case itself.
If You Lose Your Teaching Job
If you get fired because of a DUI, it might not just be this current job affected. It could also be that your future employment will also be affected. This can result in a bad financial situation. On top of this, a DUI will stay on your driving record. This might mean that you get prohibited from driving. This can make it difficult to get any job. Many schools will terminate a teacher with a DUI because it shows the person as irresponsible and unprofessional. The poor decision-making evidence gives pause for the person to be allowed to teach children. However, no matter the consequences, any teacher getting a DUI must not withhold the information. Doing so can adversely affect current and future employment. It will undoubtedly get discovered.
A Good Cause Exception
There are ways to keep your job. When charged with a DUI or having one on your record, you can petition to show that you qualify and are at safety risk for a fingerprint clearance card. You might then prevent the card from getting revoked or suspended. The same applies if there is an offense on your background check when applying for a fingerprint clearance card. Good Cause Exception is a petition to the Arizona Department of Safety. They have an application that is filled out and requires several documents. Filling out the application thoroughly and completely and attaching all required documents will possibly avoid negative consequences.
DUI convictions are serious and can affect a teacher’s life. When trying to restore your security clearance for a teaching job, it is best to hire an attorney to help with the matter. Contact us today if you want to learn more about the services Chelle Law offers or to set up a consultation.
Other Blogs of Interest
- Arizona Teacher Fingerprint Clearance Card Suspension
- Can You be a Teacher in Arizona With a Misdemeanor?
- Arizona Teacher PPAC Complaint Hearing
Arizona Teacher DUI Discipline Matrix
Today, I’m discussing the DUI discipline matrix that the Arizona State Board of Education put out. They break down the DUI if it’s your first offense, second offense, how many years prior, that thing. They break the DUI down into certain categories. Then they suggest discipline if there is a settlement agreement, which means that both parties come together and decide that they agree on the facts and conclusions of law. Suppose someone contested the discipline or any of the findings of facts or conclusions of law. You’ll go before the Professional Practices Act Committee (PPAC). They’ll decide the result of facts and conclusions of law.
Board of Education’s Verdict on PPAC Findings
They will bring their findings before the board of education. Then their findings will either be affirmed, amended, or rejected. So, let’s just break it down. The first one I will discuss is if this is your first DUI. You have no prior discipline. The suggested discipline on the matrix would be that it would get flagged in case of any future discipline. But you may not receive any discipline if it’s your first DUI. It’ll get flagged if you have a DUI with aggravating circumstances which they define if that’s a high BAC level. Suppose there were children in the vehicle and property damage, those types of things. Then, you could have a letter of censure to a suspension with conditions. Conditions may be something like counseling or rehabilitation. Those are just the catchall category there for conditions.
And then also, if you have two or three DUIs within five years, it’s likely that it’s going to be a one-to-two-year suspension. Suppose you have three or more DUIs within five years. In that case, you’re looking at a two-year suspension with conditions through certification expiration. If it gets contested, it can be up to three years. So again, they break down if you’re getting one DUI or multiple DUIs. The time frame in which you call them, the type of discipline. It could be a letter of censure, a suspension with conditions, rehabilitation, counseling, completion of a program, those types of things.
You’re also going to consider mitigating circumstances within those guidelines as well. Some mitigating circumstances might be remorse, rehabilitation, abstinence from alcohol or substances, and the length of your sobriety. Those would all be considered mitigating circumstances.
How Does a DUI Affect Your Arizona Teaching Certificate?
What happens when a teacher in Arizona gets a DUI? Let’s first talk about that at the school level. It’s likely in your employment contract and may address this. If you get convicted of a crime, they may be able to terminate your contract for-cause. If it’s not in your contract, there may be provisions in your handbook or teacher’s policy book that you sign as well. So, you’ll want to look at those two places. Also, the policy book or the contract typically states that you must report any arrest or criminal offenses, if not immediately, to the school.
You want to ensure you read those carefully and know your requirements at the school level. It is your requirement to self-report at the state level with your license. If not, it would get reported by the other agencies. And so, what happens? Being arrested for a DUI and charged for a DUI are two different things. You’ll want to know where you are in the process, but if you’re arrested and then charged, the State Board of Education has a DUI discipline matrix. It talks about what happens if you get a DUI.
Varying Levels of DUIs in Arizona
It goes through the different scenarios and doesn’t state what type of DUI. In the state of Arizona, there are a couple of varying levels of a DUI. But the metrics do not address that. However, it addresses if this is your first DUI, they may investigate. Suppose they don’t find any substance abuse issues. In that case, you can have a negotiated settlement, and there may not be any discipline for your first DUI. However, it is flagged.
And what that means is that if you were to get an additional DUI within the next three to five years. You’re looking at suspension or suspension with conditions, which might mean a required counseling or rehabilitation program. They’re also probably going to investigate to ensure you are not under the influence while teaching. And then also, is it under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs or substances? So, that’s all the things that they’re going to consider. If you have three DUIs, you’ll likely either be suspended or have your license revoked here in Arizona.
Mitigating Your Circumstance
Now, they also look to mitigating circumstances. Like I said, is this your first DUI? Do you have any other criminal history? Have you ever been disciplined before by the State Board of Education? Aggravating circumstances become counted against you. Was there a child in the car? Was there any property damage? Have you had multiple DUIs, or is there a history of substance abuse? Things like that will count against you, so your discipline may be a little bit more. But if it’s your first DUI, like I said, it will be flagged by the State Board of Education. And they will watch that to ensure that within the next three to five years. You do not receive any other DUIs, criminal charges, or discipline.
And now, as I said, at the school level, unfortunately, you would have to report it. Look at your employment contract or in your teacher’s handbook to see what the requirements are and what the discipline is. Are you going to be terminated or suspended? Do you have to provide proof of rehabilitation or counseling? All those things you want to take into consideration.
Arizona Teacher Certificate Discipline Options
What are the Arizona teaching certificate disciplinary options with the Arizona Board of Education? So, suppose you are an educator here in the state of Arizona. In that case, you likely hold a certificate from the Arizona Board of Education. Statutes and regulations define any instances of immoral or unprofessional conduct. You are breaking your teaching contract with a DUI outside the classroom and also getting impaired while teaching under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Unprofessional conduct with students’ communication inside or outside the classroom. There is a broad overview. 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.
Suppose an investigation is due to a complaint of immoral or unprofessional conduct. You can negotiate a settlement agreement where you agree on what type of imposed discipline is against your license. 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.
Four Main Types of Discipline Taken Against Your License
There are four main types of discipline taken against your license. So, the first one is a letter of the cent. It is a public discipline, so it is searchable. And there will be the finding of facts and conclusions of law on the circumstances regarding your discipline.
Next, is a suspension, so 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 also 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 your license gets revoked. So, you will not be able to 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; there may be things to consider. You must comply with these discipline guidelines before the suspension gets lifted. And the types of options of discipline the board or the professional practices, the 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 you need to consider. However, there are only those four categories of discipline. Of course, if they dismiss the complaint, there will be no discipline. So that would be the best outcome.
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? I think the easiest way to define this is to have you look at your employment contract. Sometimes it specifies it there. Any educator handbook or policies within your school will likely spell out just about every scenario you can. They can’t do with students, staff, and parents outside of school. And so, if you follow those policies and they’re clearly understood, you follow them. Then it’s not likely that you’ll be considered to have done anything that would be misconduct.
Again, I would start with your employment contract handbook or anything the school has given 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. I would also say misconduct would 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 would be considered misconduct. There’s any physical, mental, emotional, sexual abuse, or anything like that. That’s misconduct.
Misconducts that Teachers Fail to Recognize
It gets a little confusing when there are interactions with parents about students’ cultural differences. Then the area might get a little gray. But again, I would look at the school’s policies to see if they have policies 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 other types of verbal interactions. It could be sexual harassment. Those would also be considered misconduct. And even going further than that, actions outside of school can also be considered misconduct by a teacher. And what I mean by that is the most common examples I would say probably are a DUI, domestic violence, and arrest assault.
I mean, the list goes on from there. Suppose you’re committing serious crimes or being arrested outside the classroom, even if it’s on your time. In that case, it still can be considered 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. I keep saying this, but you’re familiar with all the school’s policies on what you can and can’t do in the classroom. That way, there are no surprises.
The Process of Investigating a Misconduct
If a school thinks you have done something that would be considered misconduct, they’re likely to open an investigation. They will give you notice of this. And then you’re likely put on administrative leave. It can be paid or unpaid, and 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 for your resignation. They may terminate you. They may wait until the end of the school year; and they may do it immediately. Just depends. There’s a scale.
Also, schools are reporters, especially if it’s anything about a student, they’ll report you to the state board of education. So, there may be an investigation for your license. Local authorities, that’s local police departments, may open an investigation. And then also the department of child services may be notified and investigated. Again, misconduct is a scale. There are mitigating circumstances around it. 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. That is to protect yourself and to know your rights and what you can and can’t do during the process.
Can I Get a Fingerprint Clearance Card With a DUI?
Hold your horses! Did you get a DUI? Driving under the influence (getting a DUI) is not a precluded offense. However, any individual who has gotten a DUI within five years of completing their fingerprint clearance card application. They will face regulation from driving as part of their employment. For example, an assistant coach cannot drive the football team members using the school district van. See ARS 41-1758.03 (d).
Complying a Background Check
Let’s start from the beginning. Individuals must pass a background check with the Arizona DPS. This background check shows the board and DPS that there are no standing criminal charges or convictions. If an individual has an arrest on their record, they must abide by the procedure. The process begins with authorities notifying the DPS of the arrest. Depending on the charge, if someone has a fingerprint clearance card, it can result in a card suspension or restriction. Many must manage a card to have employment in their field.
Consequences of Fingerprint Clearance Card Suspension
Ergo, if they face fingerprint clearance card suspension, they will be unable to obtain employment in their specific position. Will your Arizona Fingerprint Clearance Card affect a DUI charge or conviction? There are, in fact, other security clearances or professions that can face challenges if they receive a DUI conviction.
For example, a professor or a childcare teacher needs a fingerprint clearance card. The law requires a restriction on the card. An individual cannot drive in the said capacity for five years. If an arrest or conviction materializes, they’ll be unable to drive for five years from the time of the arrest. Worst case, the individual can part ways with their job.
Many individuals do not foresee the effect on the fingerprint clearance card. Even if it does not end up in suspension, a restriction can also harm somebody’s life. Simply put, the loss or restriction of the fingerprint clearance card can be serious.
If you’re interested in learning more about if you can get a fingerprint clearance card with a DUI or setting up a consultation with Chelle Law, reach out to us today.
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