Can I Lose My Teaching License for Sexual Misconduct in Texas?Published: Apr 19, 2023 in Sex Crimes
If you are accused of sexual misconduct in Texas, the impact will be felt across virtually every aspect of your life. You are at risk of being charged with a criminal offense, and your professional career could also be on the line.
This is especially true for educators in Texas. If you’re accused of a sex crime, it is possible that you could lose your teaching license. However, by working with an experienced child sex crimes attorney, you can protect yourself against criminal charges and preserve your teaching credentials to return to your life.
Offenses That Can Cost Teachers Their License
Multiple criminal offenses could cause concern if you are a teacher. Some examples of these crimes could include any violation that teachers are not allowed to have on their record under the Texas Educators Code of Ethics. Such violations could consist of the following:
- Any crime involving moral turpitude
- Criminal offenses that involve school funds or property
- Any criminal offense involving the physical or sexual abuse of a minor or student
- Any criminal offense involving a minor, such as indecency with a child
- Any criminal offense occurring on school property
- Being rightfully accused or convicted of a felony level drug possession with intent to distribute charge
- Being convicted of any type of public intoxication, disorderly conduct, or DUI twice or more within 12 months
What Happens If a Teacher is Accused of a Sex Crime in Texas
According to Texas law, teachers are prohibited from engaging in sexual conduct with students. These laws apply to both primary and secondary school education but do not apply to higher education institutions such as colleges or universities. Higher education institutions are required to conduct investigations of their own under Title IX.
These laws apply to not only teachers but several other employees, including:
- Teachers’ Aides
- Administrative Staff
- Other employees in private or public schools
Although the age of consent is 17 in Texas, the Texas Penal Code makes it unlawful for any educator to have sexual contact with a student who is 17 or older. This includes online solicitation of a student by an educator.
If convicted of having an improper or sexual relationship with a student, teachers or other educators can face second-degree felony charges. These are punishable by up to 20 years in a Texas State prison and up to $10,000 in fines. You could also expect to be required to register as a sex offender on the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry.
In addition to the criminal penalties of a conviction, you could also expect to face suspension or termination at work. During this time, you could be placed on paid or unpaid administrative leave depending on the specific details of your case and the findings of the school administrator’s investigation.
The school district and the Texas State Board of Education can enforce other penalties, including revoking your teaching license. This could destroy your professional reputation. Fortunately, you can protect your future by getting an experienced attorney on your side who could help clear your name of the allegations against you.
Disciplinary Process for Teachers
The Texas State Board of Education (SBEC) has the authority to impose multiple disciplinary actions when any Texas educator violates the Board’s rules and regulations. You will be notified if a complaint has been filed against you.
The SBEC will investigate and determine whether disciplinary action is warranted. Potential disciplinary actions could include:
- Requiring you to withdraw from your educator preparation program
- A formal reprimand
- Suspending your teaching license for a specific amount of time
- Placing restrictions on issuing or renewing your teaching license
- Temporary or permanent revocation of your teaching license
You have the right to an attorney when you are under investigation by the SBEC. If you disagree with the SBEC’s findings, your attorney can help you challenge their decision and potentially avoid the collateral consequences of the sexual misconduct allegations against you.
Factors Taken into Consideration
There are several factors the SBEC may take into consideration when determining whether your teaching license should be suspended or revoked after sexual misconduct accusations. These factors include:
- Whether you have previously been accused of any other type of criminal offense
- How old were you at the time of the incident
- The nature of the crime in question
- The kind of work you were involved in before and after the accusations
Protect Your Teaching License Against Sex Crime Allegations
When you have been accused of sexual misconduct as a teacher, you may feel like all hope is lost. However, you can take action there to protect your teaching license and future.
First, according to Texas law, a sex offense does not occur if the relationship is consensual and you were less than three years older than the student, you had an existing relationship with the student before you worked at the school, or the student is your spouse. These can be found under Texas’ Romeo and Juliet laws.
When you go before the SBEC, there are other defenses you could utilize. For instance, if you were accused of sexual misconduct but ultimately acquitted or the charges against you were dropped, this could benefit your hearing.
Since the SBEC follows different legal standards, even with a lower standard of proof, you could have your teaching license suspended or revoked. You may need to introduce valuable and irrefutable evidence that proves you were not in an inappropriate relationship with a student or engaged in sexual activity with a student.
Will You Lose Your Teaching License if Convicted?
If you are convicted of sexual misconduct with a student, more than likely, the SBEC will permanently revoke your teaching license. Since sexual misconduct may be considered a crime of moral turpitude, you can expect your right to teach to be revoked if you are found guilty of this offense.
Can You Still Teach If the Charges Are Dismissed or Your Record Is Expunged?
While your teaching license is temporarily suspended or you have been placed on administrative leave, you may be unable to teach. If the charges against you are dismissed or acquitted, you might get your teaching license back if your attorney can convince the Board that you are not guilty of the allegations in question. If your record is expunged of the sexual misconduct accusations, the SBEC may be willing to reinstate your teaching license.
Dealing with False Accusations as a Teacher
Here are some ways you can deal with false accusations of sexual misconduct as a teacher:
- Remain honest and truthful during depositions, with your lawyer, and in court
- Compile a list of witnesses that could help support your case
- Cooperate with the Board’s and your school’s investigation into the accusations against you
- Do not panic if your teaching license is temporarily suspended
- Do not contact the student who accused you of sexual misconduct
- Do not attempt to dispose of or conceal any evidence
Get Help from a Sex Crimes Lawyer ASAP
Allegations of sexual misconduct could be devastating when you work as a teacher. Protecting your reputation and avoiding the harsh penalties of a criminal conviction is essential.
Learn more about what is next for your professional license defense when you contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett. Fill out our confidential contact form or call (713) 222-6767 to schedule your free case evaluation today.