The California Commission on Teaching Credentialing (CTC) refers complaints and allegations of educator misconduct to the California Committee of Credentials (“Committee”), a seven (7)-member disciplinary review board. The Committee reviews allegations of misconduct, including but not limited to, immoral and unprofessional conduct, as well as evidence around unfitness for service. They also determine whether probable cause exists for an “adverse action” against the educator’s credential including private admonition, public reproval, and/or credential revocation. The Committee then makes a recommendation to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The Division of Professional Practices (DPP) supports the disciplinary work of the Commission and the Committee of Credentials.
A teaching credential is automatically suspended when a credential holder is charged with:
- Specified sex crimes, or
- Specified narcotic crimes that involve a minor
- A “no contest” or nolo contendere plea to certain misdemeanors
- Revocation in another state for the type of misconduct that can lead to revocation in California
And a credential is denied or revoked in California, by Operation of Law, when a person is:
- convicted of specified sex offenses
- convicted of specified narcotics offenses
- convicted of any crime listed in Education Code § 44424
- found to be insane by a federal or state court
- judicially determined to be a mentally disordered sex offender under the law 16 §§ 44346, 44346.1, 44424 and 44425
A credential holder will also have all credentials revoked if as a condition of probation or sentencing:
- the holder’s ability to associate with minors has been limited, or
- the holder has been ordered to surrender his or her credentials
If no mandatory suspension or revocation occurs, there are 5 potential next steps taken by the Committee in their investigation and evaluation of credential holders for disciplinary action:
- The investigation closes
- A Letter of Inquiry (LOI) is issued by the Committee to the credential holder
- A Confidential Investigative Report (CIR) is prepared
- The case proceeds to an Initial Review (case could close or move forward)
- The case proceeds to a Formal Review (case could close or recommend adverse action)
In cases where a complaint of misconduct has been made or other criminal activity has been identified (via law enforcement reporting) and the investigation proceeds, the CTC will send a LOI letter to a teacher or school administrator indicating they have information which as triggered a preliminary investigation of their fitness to hold a credential. A written response to this letter is required within thirty (30) days.
The Committee will then decide if there is probable cause for an “adverse action” and the severity of that action. The Commission does not take an “adverse action” unless they determine that the credential holder is, unfit to “perform the duties authorized by the credential.” The seven criteria used by the Commission on Teaching Credentialing to determine “fitness to teach” is set forth in Morrison v. State Board of Education (1969) 1 Cal. 3d. 214, including:
- the likelihood of reoccurrence of the questioned conduct
- extenuating or aggravating circumstances
- the effect of notoriety and publicity
- impairment of the student-teacher relationship
- disruption of the educational process
- proximity or remoteness in time of the conduct
If the Committee wishes, they may offer teachers and administrators under investigation an “opportunity” to attend a hearing. These are held once a month and can include committee members (former teachers, administrators, and school Board members), as well as Committee staff and legal counsel. The credential holder has an opportunity to make a 3-minute opening statement after which Committee members take turns asking specific questions. A 3-minute closing statement by the credential holder or their advocate is also allowed.
After the Committee makes their recommendation on disciplinary action, the credential holder has 3 options:
- Accept the Committee’s recommendation
- Request reconsideration
- Request administrative hearing (appeal the decision)
If you are a California teacher or administrator who has received notice that the CTC and Committee of Credentials is investigating you, you should contact the Law Offices of Lucy McAllister immediately. We can review your specific legal issues and describe our extensive experience working with other clients in the teaching professions who have faced similar circumstances.
The Law Offices of Lucy S. McAllister have successfully represented many California teaching professionals and we are experienced in handling all types of licensing accusations and licensing cases. In addition, our expertise in managing criminal cases enables us to address any credential holder who has criminal charges or convictions at issue in their case. Let us help you protect your professional credentials, reputation, and your livelihood.
For additional information or to schedule a consultation on a professional licensing issue, please contact our law offices today at (877) 280-9944.