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Understanding how the PPS handles teacher complaints -- II

In a previous post, we discussed just how alarming it can be for a teacher, someone who's invested considerable time and energy into their professional development, to learn that they are under investigation for potential educator misconduct by the Florida Department of Education's Office of Professional Practices.

Recognizing that knowledge is power, we started providing some basic background information on the PPS and the scope of its authority. We'll continue this discussion in today's post, focusing on how investigations into educator misconduct complaints typically unfold.

PPS investigations

At the outset, it might be helpful to identify what exactly constitutes "educator misconduct." In general, it encompasses everything from actions that cause direct injuries or harm to students to actions that could be viewed as harmful to the teaching profession in general.

While the majority of educator misconduct complaints revolve around conduct that allegedly took place on campus and/or involves members of the school environment, they can also concern cover conduct completely outside of scholastic surroundings.

If after reviewing a complaint, the PPS determines that it has jurisdiction and that the complaint against the educator is "legally sufficient" -- meaning supported by ultimate facts -- the agency will initiate an investigation and inform all interested parties (the teacher, school, school district, etc.) of this action.

From there, the PPS investigator will do everything from making school visits and conducting interviews with both victims and witnesses to reviewing all relevant school-related documentation and examining any court documents.

Once these investigatory efforts are completed, the PPS investigator will produce a report, and the named educator will be given the opportunity to review and respond.   

All relevant documentation will then be forwarded to the Department of Education's legal department and ultimately presented to the Commissioner of Education, who will make the important decision as to whether the certified educator's actions merit disciplinary measures.

If it's decided that they do, the matter will be forwarded to the Education Practices Commission, a quasi-judicial body vested with the authority to take disciplinary measures against an educator's certificate, including issuing a letter of reprimand, probation, fines, suspension or even revocation.

The purpose in providing this information was not to cause educators to experience unnecessary alarm, but rather to impress upon them just how serious these complaints can be. Indeed, if you are a teacher facing false and potentially ruinous allegations, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

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