Teachers and administrators can struggle to balance responsibilities. Finding equity between work and school can be a challenge and mistakes can be made. What happens if a teacher or administrator is arrested or convicted of a crime and forgets to report it to their school district? Read on for advice from an attorney for school employees.
What are the Florida Department of Education mandatory reporting guidelines?
The Florida department of education requires teachers and administrators who hold certifications to report an arrest or conviction to the school district they work for with within 48 hours of the event.
What type of arrests or convictions must be reported to school districts?
The Department of Education states the following regarding arrests and/or convictions: “Shall self-report with 48 hours to appropriate authorities (as determined by district) and arrests/charges involving the abuse of a child or the sale and/or possession of a controlled substance. Such notice shall not be considered an admission of guilt nor shall such notice be admissible for any purpose in any proceeding, civil or criminal, administrative or judicial, investigatory or adjudicatory. In addition, shall self-report any conviction, finding of guilt, withholding of adjudication, commitment to a pretrial diversion program, or entering of a plea of guilty or Nolo Contendere for any criminal offense other than a minor traffic violation with 48 hours after the final judgement.”
What happens if a teacher or administrator forgets to report an arrest and/or conviction to their school district?
The school district and the Department of Education can initiate an investigation into the failure to report. This could result in disciplinary action against the teaching or administrator certificate.
What type of disciplinary action can result against a teacher or administrator due to a failure to report arrest and/or conviction?
Discipline can range from a letter or reprimand up to revocation of certification. The severity of punishment depends on the individual facts of the case.
How will I know if my school district or the Department of Education found out I did not report an arrest and/or conviction?
You will be notified by your school district of the infraction. They will then let you know that the school district has started an investigation. Likewise, if the Department of Education finds out, you will receive a certified letter. This letter will indicate that an investigation has been opened against your certificate. This investigation will be separate from any the school district might have begun. Click here to read about DOE letters of investigation.
What should a teacher or administrator do if they are being investigated by their district or the DOE?
Hire an attorney experienced in defending teachers and administrators. An experienced attorney will start crafting your defense during the initial investigation. I strongly advise against the “sit and wait” approach. Getting ahead of the investigator and putting forth your facts can lead to a more favorable outcome.
Protect your livelihood – you only get one chance at making your case.
Click here to read about our school employee defense practice area. Richard Asselta is an award-winning attorney who defends teachers and administrators facing Department of Education issues in Florida. He is experienced in defending school employees at both the district and state level from initial investigation to administrative hearings. Call today and protect your hard-earned Florida Department of Education Certificate. (855) 338-5299 Click here to read what clients are saying about Richard on AVVO, an attorney review website.