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Revocation of Teacher's license

What is the process for revoking a teaching certificate in Montana? Can you give me examples of cases where this has occurred?

 Montana law provides the process by which an educator's certificate may be revoked or suspended. The specific Montana statute addressing this issue is reproduced in its entirety below. In a nutshell, the Montana Board of Public Education holds the authority to issue a letter of reprimand or to suspend or revoke the teacher, administrator, or specialist certificate. The grounds for doing so are also provided for in law:

"(a) making any statement of material fact in applying for a certificate that the applicant knows to be false;
(b) any reason that would have required or authorized the denial of the teacher, administrator, or specialist certificate to the person if it had been known at the time the certificate was issued;
(c) incompetency;
(d) gross neglect of duty;
(e) conviction of, entry of a guilty verdict, a plea of guilty, or a plea of no contest to a criminal offense involving moral turpitude in this state or any other state or country;
(f) immoral conduct related to the teaching profession;
(g) substantial and material nonperformance of the employment contract between the teacher, administrator, or specialist and the trustees of a school or school district without good cause or the written consent of the trustees; or
(h) denial, revocation, suspension, or surrender of a teacher, administrator, or specialist certificate in another state for any reason constituting grounds for similar action in this state."

As a practical matter, revocation or suspension is a very rare occurrence. Typically, the educator would have had to engage in some egregious act, such as an act that led to the conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. (A clear example of this could be sexual molestation.) We also see incidences when the educator was not completely forthcoming with her or his application and we discover something about the educator after the application has been approved (for example, criminal convictions in other states or severe disciplinary problems in other states).

Generally, the Board of Public Education may initiate such an action only upon the request of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction or the trustees of a school district. (Matters concerning "substantial and material nonperformance of the employment contract" go directly to the Board by the trustees; the Superintendent plays no role in those matters.) Thereafter, the Board provides the educator due process (investigation, discovery, hearing, right to appeal) because the certificate is a property interest that is constitutionally protected (the government may not deny someone "life, liberty or property" without due process of the law).

Because each situation involving an educator's certificate is unique, I encourage you to contact the Office of Public Instruction's Legal Division at 406-444-4402 if you have questions about a particular set of circumstances or facts. Chief Legal Counsel Montana Office of Public Instruction 1227 11th Avenue P. O. Box 202501 Helena, MT 59620-2501 Tel: 406-444-4402 Fax: 406-444-2893 20-4-110.

Letter of reprimand, suspension, revocation, and denial of certificate. (1) The board of public education may issue a letter of reprimand or may suspend or revoke the teacher, administrator, or specialist certificate of any person for the following reasons:
(a) making any statement of material fact in applying for a certificate that the applicant knows to be false;
(b) any reason that would have required or authorized the denial of the teacher, administrator, or specialist certificate to the person if it had been known at the time the certificate was issued;
(c) incompetency;
(d) gross neglect of duty;
(e) conviction of, entry of a guilty verdict, a plea of guilty, or a plea of no contest to a criminal offense involving moral turpitude in this state or any other state or country;
(f) immoral conduct related to the teaching profession;
(g) substantial and material nonperformance of the employment contract between the teacher, administrator, or specialist and the trustees of a school or school district without good cause or the written consent of the trustees; or
(h) denial, revocation, suspension, or surrender of a teacher, administrator, or specialist certificate in another state for any reason constituting grounds for similar action in this state.

(2) The board may initiate proceedings under this section if a request for the suspension or revocation of the teacher, administrator, or specialist certificate of any person is made to it by:
(a) the trustees of a district as to a teacher, administrator, or specialist employed by that school or school district within the 12 months immediately preceding receipt of the request by the board of public education; or
(b) the superintendent of public instruction.

(3) (a) If the employment relationship between a school district and a teacher, administrator, or specialist is terminated or not renewed or if a teacher, administrator, or specialist resigns to prevent termination or nonrenewal because the trustees have reason to believe that the teacher, administrator, or specialist engaged in conduct described in subsection (1)(e) or (1)(f), the trustees shall make a written report to the superintendent of public instruction describing the circumstances of the termination, nonrenewal, or resignation.
(b) The superintendent shall review the report and any supporting evidence included in the report and may conduct further investigation. If the superintendent is satisfied that sufficient grounds exist, the superintendent may request action by the board of public education under subsection (1). The request must be brought within 1 year after discovery of the events that gave rise to the report.
(c) The trustees and the superintendent shall ensure the confidentiality of the report.
(d) The trustees and the superintendent and their agents and employees are immune from suit for actions taken in good faith under this section with respect to the report. (4) The board shall give a 30-day written notification to any person when the board intends to consider a letter of reprimand or the suspension or revocation of a certificate. Service of the notice must be accomplished by sending the notification by registered mail to the last address that the person has provided to the school district or the superintendent of public instruction. (5) The board shall conduct an investigation of the reasons for the suspension or revocation charge and then, if the investigation warrants further action, conduct a hearing in the manner provided by board policies. At the hearing, the board shall afford the person an opportunity for defense against the charge. (6) After a hearing, the board may place a written reprimand in the person's certification file or may suspend or revoke the person's teacher, administrator, or specialist certificate, except that in the case of a first violation under subsection (1)(g), the maximum penalty is a 2-year suspension of the person's certificate. The board may, upon a request by a school district, inform the school district that a person's certification file includes a letter of reprimand, but the board may not provide a copy of the letter without first determining that the public's right to know outweighs the person's right to privacy. (7) Whenever the superintendent of public instruction denies the issuance or the renewal of a teacher, administrator, or specialist certificate, the applicant may appeal the denial to the board of public education. The board shall hear the appeal in the same manner provided in this section for suspension or revocation and in accordance with the policies of the board. The decision of the board is final.


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Last Updated
9th of March, 2010

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