Teachers and administrators in Florida undergo scrutiny when they apply for their teaching certificates. Complaints against educational staff applying for a certificate or already in possession of one have the potential to result in numerous penalties after a finding of probable cause. Penalties range from fines or probationary sanctions to career-destroying certificate revocation.
Penalties authorized by state law
According to Title XLVIII of the Early Learning Education code, the commission could punish a certificate holder or applicant by:
- Denying application
- Revoking or suspending a certificate
- Placing person on probation
- Requiring additional training
- Restricting scope of educational work
- Reprimanding the person
- Disqualifying the person permanently
Investigation of complaint
A complaint to the Department of Education about a certificate holder or applicant triggers an investigation. The department treats complaints related to health and safety as a top priority.
A complaint moves forward even if the original source of the complaint wants to end the complaint. The Department of Education will proceed with the investigation unless evidence proves insufficient.
An educational professional subject to a complaint may see the evidence cited by investigators at the conclusion of the investigation. That person may also designate another party to inspect the evidence. This evidence is made available prior to the final determination of probable cause.
Finding of probable cause
If disputes arise about the material facts of the complaint, the department sends the case to an administrative law judge for review. During the hearing, the judge will settle questions regarding disputed evidence. The judge will issue recommendations about how to proceed to an Education Practices Commission panel. The panel may dismiss the complaint or order one or more penalties.