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TITLE 19EDUCATION
PART 7STATE BOARD FOR EDUCATOR CERTIFICATION
CHAPTER 249DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS, SANCTIONS, AND CONTESTED CASES
SUBCHAPTER BENFORCEMENT ACTIONS AND GUIDELINES
RULE §249.17Decision-Making Guidelines

(a) Purpose. The purpose of these guidelines is to achieve the following objectives:

  (1) to provide a framework of analysis for the Texas Education Agency (TEA) staff, the presiding administrative law judge (ALJ), and the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) in considering matters under this chapter;

  (2) to promote consistency in the exercise of sound discretion by the TEA staff, the presiding ALJ, and the SBEC in seeking, proposing, and making decisions under this chapter; and

  (3) to provide guidance for the informal resolution of potentially contested matters.

(b) Construction and application. This section shall be construed and applied so as to preserve SBEC members' discretion in making final decisions under this chapter. This section shall be further construed and applied so as to be consistent with §249.5(b) of this title (relating to Purpose; Policy Governing Disciplinary Proceedings) and this chapter, the Texas Education Code (TEC), and other applicable law, including SBEC decisions and orders.

(c) Consideration. The following factors may be considered in seeking, proposing, or making a decision under this chapter:

  (1) the seriousness of the violation;

  (2) whether the misconduct was premeditated or intentional;

  (3) attempted concealment of misconduct;

  (4) prior misconduct and SBEC sanctions;

  (5) the potential danger the conduct poses to the health and welfare of students;

  (6) the effect of the prior conduct upon any victims of the conduct;

  (7) whether sufficient time has passed and sufficient evidence is presented to demonstrate that the educator or applicant has been rehabilitated from the prior conduct;

  (8) the effect of the conduct upon the educator's good moral character and ability to be a proper role model for students;

  (9) whether the sanction will deter future violations; and

  (10) any other relevant circumstances or facts.

(d) Contract abandonment.

  (1) Good cause. The following factors may be considered good cause when an educator is reported to have abandoned a contract in violation of the TEC, §§21.105(c), 21.160(c), or 21.210(c):

    (A) serious illness or health condition of the educator or close family member of the educator;

    (B) relocation to a new city as a result of change in employer of the educator's spouse or partner who resides with the educator; or

    (C) significant change in the educator's family needs that requires the educator to relocate or to devote more time than allowed by current employment.

  (2) Mitigating factors. The following factors may be considered in seeking, proposing, or making a decision under this chapter regarding an educator who has abandoned a contract in violation of the TEC, §§21.105(c), 21.160(c), or 21.210(c):

    (A) educator gave written notice to school district 30 days or more in advance of the first day of instruction for which the educator will not be present;

    (B) educator assisted school district in finding a replacement educator to fill the position;

    (C) educator continued to work until the school district hired a replacement educator;

    (D) educator assisted in training the replacement educator;

    (E) educator showed good faith in communications and negotiations with school district; or

    (F) educator provided lesson plans for classes following educator's resignation.

  (3) Mandatory minimum sanction for contract abandonment. An educator subject to sanction, who has abandoned a contract in violation of the TEC, §§21.105(c), 21.160(c), or 21.210(c) in a case where the factors listed in paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection do not apply, may not receive a sanction of less than:

    (A) suspension for one year from the first day that, without district permission, the educator failed to appear for work under the contract, provided that the educator has not worked as an educator during that year and the case is resolved within that one year through an agreed final order; or

    (B) suspension for one year from either the effective date of an agreed final order resolving the case or an agreed future date at the beginning of the following school year, if the educator has worked as an educator after abandoning the contract; or

    (C) suspension for one year from the date that the SBEC adopts an order that becomes final following a default under §249.35 of this title (relating to Disposition Prior to Hearing; Default) or a contested case hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).

(e) Mandatory minimum sanction for felony-level conduct. An educator subject to sanction, who is court-ordered to complete a period of deferred adjudication or community supervision for a felony-level criminal offense under state or federal law, may not receive a sanction of less than:

  (1) suspension for a period concurrent with the term of deferred adjudication or community supervision, if the case is resolved through an agreed final order prior to the educator completing deferred adjudication or community supervision and the educator has not been employed as an educator during the period of deferred adjudication or community supervision; or

  (2) suspension beginning on the effective date of an agreed final order for a period extending beyond the end of the educator's deferred adjudication or community supervision but may be less than the initial court-ordered term of deferred adjudication or community supervision, if the case is resolved through an agreed final order prior to the educator completing deferred adjudication or community supervision and the educator has been employed as an educator during the period of deferred adjudication or community supervision; or

  (3) suspension beginning on the effective date of an agreed final order for a period at least half as long as the initial court-ordered term of deferred adjudication or community supervision, if the case is resolved through an agreed final order after the educator has completed deferred adjudication or community supervision; or

  (4) suspension for a period equal to the term of deferred adjudication or community supervision that the criminal court initially ordered but beginning from the date of the final board decision, if the case is resolved through a final board decision following a contested case hearing at the SOAH or a default under §249.35 of this title.

(f) Mandatory minimum sanction for misdemeanor-level conduct. If an educator is subject to sanction, and a court has ordered the educator to complete a period of deferred adjudication, community supervision, or pretrial diversion for a misdemeanor-level criminal offense under state or federal law, the educator may not receive a sanction of less than an inscribed reprimand.

(g) Mandatory minimum sanction for test security violation. An educator who intentionally manipulates the results or violates the security or confidential integrity of any test required by the TEC, Chapter 39, Subchapter B, may not receive a sanction of less than suspension for one year from the effective date of an agreed final order or a final board decision following a contested case hearing at the SOAH.

(h) Mandatory minimum sanction for drugs and alcohol on school campus. An educator who is subject to sanction because the educator has tested positive for drugs or alcohol while on school campus, was under the influence of drugs or alcohol on school campus, or was in possession of drugs or alcohol on school campus may not receive a sanction of less than a one-year suspension and required completion of a drug or alcohol treatment program.

(i) Mandatory permanent revocation or denial. Notwithstanding subsection (c) of this section, the SBEC shall permanently revoke the teaching certificate of any educator or permanently deny the application of any applicant if, after a contested case hearing or a default under §249.35 of this title, it is determined that the educator or applicant:

  (1) engaged in any sexual contact or romantic relationship with a student or minor;

  (2) solicited any sexual contact or romantic relationship with a student or minor;

  (3) possessed or distributed child pornography;

  (4) was registered as a sex offender;

  (5) committed criminal homicide;

  (6) transferred, sold, distributed, or conspired to possess, transfer, sell, or distribute any controlled substance, the possession of which would be at least a Class A misdemeanor under the Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 481, on school property;

  (7) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to a student or minor when the conduct of the educator or applicant is not immune from disciplinary proceedings by TEC, §22.0512; or

  (8) committed any offense described in the TEC, §21.058.

(j) Mandatory minimum for failure to report. An educator subject to sanction, who fails to report educator misconduct under the circumstances and in the manner required by the TEC, §21.006, and §249.14(d) - (f) of this title (relating to Complaint, Required Reporting, and Investigation; Investigative Notice; Filing of Petition), when the case is resolved through an agreed final order, may not receive a sanction of less than:

  (1) an inscribed reprimand and a $5,000 administrative penalty for a superintendent or director who fails to file timely a report to the SBEC; or

  (2) an inscribed reprimand and a $500 administrative penalty for a principal who fails to timely notify a superintendent or director.

(k) Sanctioned misconduct in another state. The findings of fact contained in final orders from any other state jurisdiction may provide the factual basis for SBEC disciplinary action. If the underlying conduct for the administrative sanction of an educator's certificate or license issued in another state is a violation of SBEC rules, the SBEC may initiate a disciplinary action regarding the educator's Texas educator certificate and impose a sanction as provided under this chapter.


Source Note: The provisions of this §249.17 adopted to be effective March 31, 1999, 24 TexReg 2304; amended to be effective December 16, 2007, 32 TexReg 9112; amended to be effective December 19, 2011, 36 TexReg 8533; amended to be effective December 23, 2013, 38 TexReg 9362; amended to be effective October 27, 2014, 39 TexReg 8402; amended to be effective May 15, 2016, 41 TexReg 3310; amended to be effective December 27, 2016, 41 TexReg 10330; amended to be effective March 8, 2018, 43 TexReg 1275

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