If your receive a notice of an investigation against you, with a possible disciplinary proceeding, you may not know where to turn next. Perhaps the complaint was filed by a problem parent, or it involves a simple misunderstanding. Your first thought may be that by simply explaining what happened, the issue will resolve itself. But before you volunteer any information, think about what may be at stake.
A disciplinary proceeding may put you on the defensive, even if you've done nothing wrong. There may be serious allegations which could have a real impact on your license, reputation, career and your livelihood. While your union representatives may offer some guidance, they are not legal experts specializing in representing teachers and other educators before disciplinary hearings. You have the right to consult legal counsel, who can make sure that your rights are protected.
No-Obligation Case Assessment
I have more than a decade of experience representing teachers and am familiar with exactly how these proceedings work. With a no-obligation consultation, we will be able to sit down and look at the specifics of your case. After an in-depth discussion, you will be in a better position to decide how to proceed when you understand all your available options.
Before making the decision to represent yourself, consider that everything you say may be used against you. Experience has shown that contacting legal counsel as early as possible in the investigation will best ensure that you keep all your options open.
What to Expect
In the State of Washington, disciplinary complaints are handled by the State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OPSI). Complaints might be filed for all sorts of reasons, including alleged negligence, unprofessional conduct, substance abuse, or other alleged misconduct.
After a complaint is filed alleging a violation of the Code of Professional Conduct, the OPS will begin an investigation. The OPSI can investigate anyone who has an education certificate, even if you are no longer working as a teacher. Investigators will review the allegations and gather evidence, and finally present the case for disposition.
Consider contacting legal counsel with experience representing teachers before administrative proceedings as soon as you learn of a possible investigation. Penalties include probation, reprimand, warnings, conditional licensure, and suspension or revocation of your license. These findings become public, and can impact your ability to find future employment, even in another state.
This information provided here is intended to provide an overview of what might be involved. During a no-obligation consultation, I will be able to give you a detailed understanding of what you can expect, and we will discuss all your available options.
More information on the Washington State Office of Professional Practices investigation process can be found at: https://www.k12.wa.us/ProfPractices/investigations/FAQ.aspx