Office of Professional Practices
Office of Professional Practices
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Office of Professional Practices
FAQ for Educators
I received a certified letter which included an administrative complaint or notice of reasons; what does this mean?
If you have been served with an administrative complaint (certificate holder) or notice of reasons (applicant), this means that following an investigation into allegations of misconduct, the Commissioner of Education determined there was cause to discipline your Florida Educator Certificate or to deny your application for a Florida Educator Certificate based on the charges detailed in the administrative complaint or the notice of reasons.
The Commissioner filed the complaint; does the Commissioner also determine disciplinary action (sanctions) against a certificate?
No. While the Department does recommend penalties, final disciplinary actions are issued by the Education Practices Commission (EPC). The EPC is a quasi-judicial body of peers (teachers, administrators, law enforcement and lay citizens) who ultimately determine what sanctions should be levied against an individual’s Florida Educator Certificate. View the statutory authority for the EPC
What should I do after a complaint has been filed against me?
First, read the complaint or notice so you fully understand the charges levied against you. The charges filed by the Department are levied with the intent to pursue disciplinary action against your Florida Educator Certificate or to deny your application for a Florida Educator Certificate. Action against your certificate or application for a certificate is a separate action from disciplinary action that you may have received from your employing school or district.
Next, read and complete the Election of Rights form which is included in the mailing. This is your appeal to the denial of your application or disciplinary action against your educator certificate. If you fail to return the election of rights form, the Department will deny your application or pursue disciplinary action against your certificate absent your response to the complaint.
Do I have the right to legal representation?
Yes. At any time during these proceedings, an individual may retain the services of an attorney. If you choose to have an attorney represent your interest, the legal representative must file a letter of representation with the Office of Professional Practices Services. Once legal representation has been retained, all communications will be directed through the legal representative.
What do the choices in the Election of Rights form mean?
Formal Hearing: A formal hearing means that you dispute the allegations stated in the administrative complaint or notice of reasons and elect to have your case heard before an administrative law judge in the Division of Administrative Hearings. You may access the Division of Administrative Hearings web site for more information on this process.
After a formal hearing, the administrative law judge will issue a Recommended Order. This Recommended Order will state the findings of fact, conclusions of law and a recommended order for penalty or no penalty. This Recommended Order is filed with the EPC to be heard on the next available agenda. Although personal attendance at the EPC hearing is not required of the educator, the staff of the EPC will send notification to the educator and his/her legal representative if appropriate, as to the date of the hearing before the EPC. At the hearing, the EPC members may, within proper procedure, accept or reject all or part of the Recommended Order, and will ultimately issue a Final Order which will outline any disciplinary actions.
Informal: An informal hearing means that you admit to the allegations stated in the administrative complaint or notice of reasons and elect to state your case in front of the EPC as to why a lenient penalty or no penalty (disciplinary action) against your Florida Educator Certificate is appropriate. If you elect an Informal Hearing, you will be sent a notice of hearing from the EPC staff to advise you of the time and place you should appear in person before the panel. You will have 10 minutes to state your case to the EPC members. During this hearing, the Commissioner of Education will be represented by an attorney who will make a recommended penalty for the EPC members to consider. The panel members may ask questions, and will ultimately determine what disciplinary actions should be taken against your Florida Educator Certificate. If you elect not to appear in person, the EPC will proceed with disciplinary action against your certificate absent your appearance.
Settlement Agreement: A settlement agreement is neither an admission nor denial of the allegation, but an election to settle with the Department. If the Department chooses to settle with you, a settlement offer will be sent for your review. If you accept the settlement, you must sign and return it to the Department’s legal counsel. A signed settlement will then be filed with the EPC to be heard on a consent agenda. The EPC members do not have to accept any settlement agreement; however, the Department negotiates settlements in a good faith effort as to what is deemed an appropriate penalty in each individual case and uses the precedent of past actions issued against educators as a guide for appropriate penalties. While you are not required to appear in person for a settlement agreement, and you likely will not be called for questions or input, your attendance at the hearing may be beneficial to your overall understanding of this process and your commitments required by the Final Order.
Surrender: Surrender of a Florida Educator Certificate is a non-contested surrender of an individual’s certificate for permanent revocation. Surrenders may be voluntary, or as a result of a court ordered action. Surrenders are accepted by the EPC chairperson and are not heard before an entire EPC panel.
What happens if I elect Settlement Agreement and I reject the settlement offer?
If you choose to reject a settlement offer and no other offer is made, you may then proceed to either a formal or informal hearing.
What happens after the EPC hearing?
After the hearing, the attorney for the EPC will draft the Final Order documents for each case. The Final Order is a binding administrative order that details the disciplinary actions taken against an individual’s certificate. This order is sent to the educator, the employer, the Bureau of Educator Certification and the Office of Professional Practices Services.
What types of things will be in a Final Order?
The Final Order will state the parameters of the disciplinary action taken against an individual’s certificate. Typically, there is more than one action taken, for example a letter of reprimand and a fine. The EPC may issue a variety of penalties including the following:
- Revocation (up to 10 years or permanent)
- Suspension (up to five years)
- Denial (of application)
- Recovery Network Program (mental health, drug or alcohol counseling)
- Fine (up to $2,000 per count)
- Course work (college level or inservice)
- Community Service work
- Limit the Scope of Practice (no transport of students, no chaperone, no handling of school funds, no proctoring of exams…)
- Letter of Reprimand
What do I do when I receive a Final Order?
Read the order carefully. You are responsible for fulfilling all obligations of the order. Your failure to comply with all requirements of the order may result in the call for you to show cause as to why further penalty against your certificate, up to and including permanent revocation, is not warranted.
May I still work if I receive a Final Order?
While the decision to retain an individual in employment is the employer’s decision, there are certain penalties that prohibit a public school district, charter school or lab school from continuing to employ an individual. If a certificate is suspended or revoked, that individual may not be employed in any position in a public school or district school board which requires direct student contact, for the duration of the suspension or revocation. If you received a denial in your Final Order, you are prohibited from employment in a position which requires a certificate for the duration of the time of Denial. If your order provides for a penalty other than revocation, suspension or denial, your continued or future employment as a certified educator is permissible. You are however required to uphold and comply with all provisions in the order until successful completion.
Does Florida report disciplinary actions to a national clearinghouse?
Yes. EPC staff reports certain disciplinary actions to the Clearinghouse of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC).
How do I pay my fine and/or activate my probation?
Contact the probation office in the Office of Professional Practices Services at (850) 245.0438 or via e-mail at email@example.com
How do I contact the Recovery Network Program?
850.245.0438 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org