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What is educator misconduct and where can it happen?

Educator misconduct is a serious allegation to have to deal with. If you don't defend yourself and are found responsible for misconduct, there's a chance you could be penalized with a suspension or you could lose your job. On top of that, if you performed a criminal act, you could be charged and taken to court.

Some kinds of misconduct include cheating on a professional exam, causing direct harm to students and falsifying documentation. Misconduct tends to happen on school grounds or with people involved in the school community, but it isn't limited to those locations. If you're outside the school environment and involved in a situation that results in accusations of misconduct, you can still be placed under review by the school and also by the Office of Professional Standards. Sometimes, the review could be done by police, especially if you have them on staff at the school.

If you're accused of misconduct, you need to make sure that you protect yourself from the start. The review should be fair, and you could be placed on leave until it's complete, depending on the accusation. You shouldn't be fired or penalized before the review is done, though. Without an investigation, there's no way for authorities to verify the parent or student's claim against you.

It is also possible for a parent or student to go directly to police with an accusation. If that is the case, you will want to avoid media exposure and protect your integrity by limiting what you say to anyone until you have a defense attorney in place.

Source: Florida Department of Education, "What is Educator Misconduct?," accessed July 01, 2015

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