New Educator Misconduct Reporting Requirements and Do Not Hire Registry

New Educator Misconduct Reporting Requirements and Do Not Hire Registry

August 21 | Leadership, Charter & Culture, Personnel Management

In addition to all the hype about increased funding and required pay raises, House Bill 3 (HB3, Article 2A) brought us new HR reporting requirements.  These amped up reporting measures were passed to enhance efforts of protection and welfare of Texas students.

Non-Certified Educator Misconduct Reporting

For non-certified educators, the reporting requirements are related to certain allegations of misconduct, which closely mimic the already-in-place reporting requirements for certified educators.  

Specifically, what qualifies as the “certain allegations of misconduct” include inappropriate relationships between educators and students and/or any criminal history that places or potentially places students at risk, although the reporting requirements between certified and non-certified do vary a bit.

What kinds of misconduct must to be reported for non-certified educators?

  • Unlawful act committed with student or minor
  • Romantic relationship, solicited or engaged in sexual contact with student or minor

What kinds of misconduct must to be reported for certified educators?

  • Unlawful act committed with student or minor
  • Romantic relationship, solicited or engaged in sexual contact with student or minor
  • Controlled substance: possession, transfer, sale, distribute
  • Misuse of school funds
  • Fraudulent certification
  • Committed criminal offense on school property or at school event

In years prior, while TEA and SBEC had authority over certified educators, these entities had no authority to investigate and enforce consequence on any allegations of misconduct against non-certified educators. This is the big change! Effective immediately for the 2019-20 school year, schools must also report certain non-certified employee misconduct in writing directly to TEA via a portal which has yet to be developed, but will launch prior to January 1, 2020. Until the reporting portal is developed, reports may be made via mail or fax – not via email.

This expanded reporting requirement may be especially relevant in charter schools, because unlike ISDs, teachers are not required to be certified to teach in charter schools so it is much more common that charter schools will have a need to report on non-certified employees based on having hired a greater number of noncertified employees than ISDs.

Senate Bill 1476 (SB1476) does bring an expanded clarification to this, which is that if a certified educator is suspected of misconduct, then after it is investigated it is determined that the educator did not engage in the conduct, reporting is not required. This exception applies only to certified educators; it does not apply to non-certified educators.

While the consequence for proven misconduct for certified educators has been Revocation of Certification, the consequence will now also include being placed on a TEA Do Not Hire Registry. For noncertified educators, where no authority existed before, TEA and SBEC will now be able to investigate reports of misconduct on these employees, and if proven to be actual misconduct, they too will be placed in TEA’s Do Not Hire Registry.

What if I Fail to report?

It is the Superintendent’s responsibility to make the report. Penalties for non-reporting vary. For Superintendents who fail to report that are certified, SCEC sanctions could result in loss of certification.  If failure to report is found to be an intent to conceal the misconduct, this becomes a criminal offense. For non-reporting of certified educator misconduct, monetary fines may result as a consequence.

Do Not Hire Registry

Also effective 9/1/2019, TEA was charged with the creation and maintenance of a new internet portal, a “Do Not Hire Registry,” that lists persons (certified and non-certified) who are ineligible for hire based on misconduct or criminal history.

This registry will be available online to all schools via a TEAL application in January 2020, and it will only reflect the information of those whose reports of misconduct are “under investigation” or who have been investigated and proven. It will not list those who have been cleared. 

General public will also have access to the Do Not Hire Registry on TEA’s website, but they will be able to see names only while schools will be able to view DOB and social security numbers also on the list in the TEA Secure Environment. 

Schools are required to check this registry prior to hiring anyone and refuse to hire those whose are listed on the registry. Furthermore, schools are required to discharge those already employed if they are a person listed on the registry.

Noncompliance is considered a violation of charter and enforced by TEA as such.

Resource

TEA’s August 15th “HB3 in 30” video release featured more information about these new reporting requirements, which can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94l-HZoXZqs&feature=youtu.be