Under What Circumstances do Criminal Convictions cost California Teachers their Credentials?
When criminal convictions come into play, a California teacher can be held to account in their profession for a poor choice they make in their private lives.
Should you find yourself in the midst of such a situation, our California criminal defense lawyers may very well be able to help you out. We represent teachers accused of criminal offenses, helping them to resolve their cases so as keep their credentials in spite of enduring a disciplinary proceeding.
In this article, you will learn about the ways in which criminal convictions can impact teaching credentials. If, after reading, you still have questions, then you should to reach out to us for a consultation.
We will cover:
In the state of California, teachers are licensed and regulated by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which is under the state’s executive branch.
Under the auspicies of the Commission, the Committee on Credentials has the responsibility of overseeing teacher discipline cases. They look at all cases, those based on criminal convictions included. This Committee then makes recommendations to the Commission as to whether a teacher’s credential should be denied, revoked or suspended.
The California Education Code governs conviction-related discipline. This code is meticulously detailed and complicated for the average person to navigate on their own, even if you are a great teacher. It makes more sense to speak with an experienced attorney to help evaluate the Code as it relates to your specific case.
There are numerous criminal convictions that might trigger review and disciplinary action by the Committee on Credentials. We give details below.
Convictions that draw an Automatic suspension or Revocation
The Commission must automatically suspend and/or revoke a teacher’s credential based on specific kinds of convictions, including:
Other Types of Convictions
A conviction for an offense that is not specifically listed may form the basis for teacher discipline. If it indicates that the credential-holder is unfit to teach, then you will face discipline for it. In coming to this fitness decision, the Committee will consider these factors:
(These factors were complied from applicable constitutional principles and case law.)
Not too long ago, a California appellate court had enough reason to evaluate these factors – they are often referred to as the “Morrison” factors – in the case of a public school teacher in California who was disciplined after being convicted of three DUI’s spread over several years.
After a lengthy trial, the court ultimately went through the eight factors and determined that they should move in favor of disciplining the teacher. The judge noted that the teacher’s court-ordered ankle monitoring device “would have adversely impacted [her] ability to earn the respect of her students”. Additionally, the court recognized that the most recent conviction was aggravated by an alcohol content of more than three times the legal limit.
A Case of Felony to Misdemeanor Reduction
In a separate matter, a positive outcome was granted to a teaching credential-applicant. This aspiring teacher appealed to the courts after being denied a teaching credential on the basis that he was a “convicted felon” after pleading no contest to felony Penal Code 246.3 PC – negligent discharge of a firearm.
In fact, the felony conviction was later bumped down to a misdemeanor in accordance with California Penal Code Section 17. In this cases, the judge agreed that the relevant Code section could not impede credentialing because at the time of his application, the teacher stood convicted of a misdemeanor, not a felony.
We know that teachers work hard to achieve their teaching credential – I’m sure you’re no different. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is not empowered to just revoke without valid reasons.
In the event that the Commission initiates a disciplinary action against your license based on some legal trouble you find yourself in, you may be able to put together a successful defense. In the first place, it’s possible that your specific charges would not have any bearing on your fitness to teach. Indeed, perhaps an exception applies in your unique situation.
Whether you decide to battle it out on your own or hire a lawyer to assist you, we can’t emphasize enough that you must act in earnest and stay on top of things, especially your deadlines.
Keep in mind that we are easy reach at Spodek Law Group. We can and would be honored help you navigate the process of disciplinary proceedings, as well as the criminal process in general.
We can help you formulate a plan of action to meet this challenge head-on and continue teaching.
Our California Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help.
If you or a loved one is a teacher charged with a crime and you need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you before the commission and also in court, please feel free to reach out to us at Spodek Law Group. We will schedule you for your free consultation in office or by phone. We serve clients in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, San Bernardino, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, Rancho Cucamonga, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout the Golden State.
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