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Teachers’ licenses can’t be permanently revoked

By Mackenzie Mays, Staff writer

The state Board of Education is concerned about a policy that allows teachers who have had their licenses revoked to be reinstated after five years, regardless of the severity of their offense.

Grounds for a teaching license revocation include any charge involving sexual misconduct with a minor, or any signs of “intemperance, untruthfulness, cruelty or immorality.”

But state policies are silent on the question of how or if an educator whose license has been suspended or revoked may earn its reinstatement.

In an attempt to clarify those policies, the West Virginia Commission on Professional Teaching Standards is for the first time recommending standards for the process of reapplying for a teaching or school bus driver license following suspension or revocation.

The WVCPTS’ proposed policy would mean there’s no such thing as a permanently revoked license, allowing teachers whose licenses have been revoked to reapply after five years, having met certain requirements.

State Board of Education members have put the policy on hold, though, concerned about who that could allow into classrooms.

“There are some offenses so serious that we ought to say we don’t want that teacher in our classrooms again,” state school board member Lloyd Jackson said.

Other licensing agencies, such as the state Supreme Court, allow the same five-year rule following a revocation.

But, because teachers are in charge of the safety of students, those same rules shouldn’t apply, Jackson said.

“Teachers deal with students who involuntarily have to submit themselves to their control. You have no choice. You’ve got to come to school. Other professionals, if they know about [an offense]... it is a little different of a standard,” Jackson said.

A part of the proposed policy the school board does support, though, would allow superintendents to ensure that a teacher whose license has been revoked is added to a national teacher database.

Currently, it’s possible for a teacher with a revoked license in West Virginia to leave the state and teach with a clean record, and vice versa.

“With the way our law is restrictive in allowing background checks, we rely on word of mouth... We have had instances where we’ve had to go back and revoke a license,” said Heather Hutchens, general counsel for the state Department of Education.

Board members Mike Green, Wade Linger and William White all voiced concerns about the policy last week at a board meeting.

Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or at 304-348-4814.


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