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How does Florida deal with educator misconduct?

As an educator, you need to know what you can be punished for when you work in a school district. Knowing when not to cross a line can save you from getting in trouble with the school or even the law.

Educator misconduct is something that describes a range of activities from allegations of sexual abuse of students to cheating when you're taking your professional exams. These activities don't have to happen at school or on the school grounds; interacting with students or others outside school in certain ways can lead to trouble, too. In fact, if you're accused and found guilty of inappropriate acts, you could lose your job or your teaching license.

Normally, if an allegation is made against you by a student or parent, you'll hear about it from the school administration first. However, the parents or student could also involve the police when making allegations, and that can make a troubling situation worse for you. Every school district has its own way of dealing with misconduct, so it's important to know if the school reviews employees itself, with police intervention, or with outside parties. Typically, the police are only involved in a case when you're being accused of a criminal act.

All claims made against you need to be legally sufficient in Florida. This means that the allegation needs to be supported as true and the conduct itself must have violated State Board of Education rules or the state's statutes. If these conditions aren't met, then the allegation won't be investigated and you shouldn't have to worry about backlash from the accusation.

Source: Florida Department of Education, "What Is Educator Misconduct?" accessed Mar. 24, 2015

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