Criminal Teachers

Criminal Teachers - 10/16/08

Jeff: Recently we have covered stories about teachers with criminal records working in the schools system. Ohio recently passed a law to protect students by ridding the schools of teachers with criminal backgrounds. Here to discuss the new law is attorney Michael Solomon.

Jeff: Mike I have always assumed that if a teacher had a criminal record they were immediately fired. Is that the case?

Mike: Surprisingly, under the old law, if the teacher was convicted or plead guilty to a criminal act such as murder or rape the State Board of Education could, but was not required, to revoke the teachers license. Under the new law the teacher's license must be revoked. Also the new law has added a long list of new offenses that require a immediate suspension of a teacher's license, and, unlike the old law, allows the suspension to occur before an administrative hearing is held.

Jeff: What sort of crimes result in an automatic revocation of a teacher's license?

Mike: There are over 85 offenses broken down into four major categories. If you are convicted or plead guilty to:

  1. Offenses of violence – these range from murder to endangering children's mental health through unwarranted discipline.
  2. Sexually oriented offenses – these range from rape to showing sexual materials to children.
  3. Drug Offenses – these range from drug dealing to encouraging drug abuse.
  4. Theft

Additionally, unlike the old law, the information gathered by the State Board of Education is a public record.

Jeff: If a teacher is accused of one of these 85 offenses, the trial may be months away. Can the teacher still teach?

Mike: The new law provides that the school must suspend the employee from duties that involve the care, custody, or control of children when the employee is arrested or indicted for one of the 85 crimes.

Also, the State Board of education can suspend a teacher even if they have not been convicted of a crime if:

  1. The court has agreed to let the accused enter into an intervention program in lieu of a conviction, or
  2. The prosecutor has agreed to a diversion program instead of prosecuting the person.

This usually involves a crime that was convicted where drugs or alcohol were involved and the court or prosecutor feels that the person will not do it again.

The new law tries to make sure that the schools can protect students from potential dangers before they happen not after.