January 13, 2012
TO THE SUPERINTENDENT AND HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR ADDRESSED:
SUBJECT: Duty of Superintendents and Directors to Report Educator Misconduct
This letter is sent as a reminder to all superintendents of their statutory obligation to file a written report of specific categories of educator misconduct to the State Board for Educator Certification (“SBEC”). (Tex. Educ. Code §21.006; 19 Tex. Admin. Code §249.14.)
The duty to report also applies to the superintendent or director of a charter school, regional education service center, or shared services arrangement. The duty to report applies to the following misconduct:
- any sexual conduct, abuse, neglect or unlawful conduct involving an educator and a student or minor;
- possession, transfer, or sale of a controlled substance;
- illegal transfer, appropriation or expenditure of district funds or property;
- attempt by fraudulent or unauthorized means to obtain or alter a professional certificate or license for the purpose of employment, promotion or additional compensation;
- commission of a criminal offense or any part of a criminal offense on school property or at a school sponsored event;
- solicitation of sexual conduct or a romantic relationship with a student or minor; or
- violation of the assessment instrument security provisions as described in 19 Tex. Admin. Code §101.65(e),(g).
When to Report
The duty to report is triggered when the superintendent has reasonable cause to believe the misconduct occurred and the educator either resigns or is terminated. The report must be filed in writing no later than the seventh day after the date the superintendent first learns about an alleged incident of misconduct. (Tex. Educ. Code §21.006(b)(3),(c); 19 Tex. Admin. Code §249.14(d),(e).)
Each superintendent has a professional obligation to ensure that appropriate reporting structures are in place within the district or charter to ensure that any resignation, termination or investigation involving conduct described in Tex. Educ. Code §21.006 is promptly communicated to the superintendent and reported to the agency.
Failure to Report
A superintendent who fails to file a timely, required report is subject to sanctions. A superintendent who, in good faith and while acting in an official capacity, files a report with SBEC under this section is immune from civil or criminal liability for filing the report. (Tex. Educ. Code §21.006(e),(f); 19 Tex. Admin. Code §249.14(e).) Since the Education Code provides immunity for good faith reports, if you have any doubt, the most prudent course of action is to report the allegations to SBEC.
Information Required – Name of Student/Minor
The name of the student or minor who is the victim of abuse or unlawful conduct by an educator must be included in the report, even though the name of the student or minor is not public information under the Public Information Act. (Tex. Educ. Code §21.006(h).) The written report provided to SBEC is not a student educational record as defined by FERPA. (19 Tex. Admin. Code §249.14(e) (as amended effective December 19, 2011).)
HB 1610 – Investigation of Educator Misconduct
This letter also seeks to clarify district obligations pursuant to recently passed HB 1610, codified at Tex. Educ. Code §21.006(b-1) (effective September 1, 2011). The superintendent must complete an investigation based on reasonable cause that the educator may have engaged in the misconduct described above. An investigation into the misconduct must be completed, even if the educator resigns from employment before the completion of the investigation. If the educator is arrested and law enforcement requests that the district cease its investigation and the superintendent or director is unable to complete the district investigation, the superintendent is still required to timely report to SBEC and inform SBEC that the investigation was interrupted at the request of law enforcement.
For More Information
An FAQ document is available on our website at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=5826.
If you have further questions, we are always glad to assist. You may contact me at
(512) 936-9831 or Doug Phillips, Director for Investigations, at (512) 936-8210 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ann Smisko, Ph.D.
Educator Leadership and Quality