2008-07-04 / Top Stories

Titus: Fire Teachers Guilty Of Sex Crimes

Assemblywoman Michele R. Titus announced that the Assembly passed a bill that provides for the immediate termination of any teacher - including classroom teachers, teaching assistants, school counselors, social workers and psychologists, school administrators, supervisors or superintendents of schools - guilty of committing a registrable sex offense and the automatic revocation of their teaching certificate or license. The Senate and governor back the measure.

Currently, there is no mechanism to immediately terminate the employment or revoke the teaching credentials of teachers convicted of sex crimes that place them on the sex offender registry, because the law requires that the state Education Department conduct a moral character hearing before revoking a teacher's certification, and requires a school district to complete a disciplinary proceeding prior to firing a tenured teacher.

This legislation eliminates these hearing requirements for registered sex offenders by giving the Commissioner of Education the authority to immediately revoke their certification and allowing a school district to automatically terminate their employment.

Assemblywoman Titus said the bill would expedite the revocation of a teacher's certification or school professional's license following a conviction or plea involving a sex offense that places the teacher on the sex offender registry.

"Teachers should be role models for our children and we should have absolute trust they won't harm them," Assemblywoman Titus said. "Those who betray that trust should be dealt with immediately. This legislation ensures that."

Under the bill, licenses that are improperly revoked can be retained if a mistaken identity claim is made within 25 days of receipt of notice that the license has been revoked. The state Education Department would have five business days to respond to mistaken identity claims. Licenses and employment would also be reinstated if the conviction is reversed and following a moral character hearing conducted by the state Education Department.

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