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“Ethics in Education Act” Senate Bill 1712 2008 Florida Legislature Effective July 1, 2008
Headlines Debra La. Fave Provocative Pictures Of Sex-Arrest Teacher Surface Teacher Accused Of Sex With 14 -Year-Old Student TAMPA of a teacher student have Reading teacher 23, is a newlywed having intercourse with oral sex on a 14 -year-old Greco Middle School several -- Provocative pictures Tampa-area middle school accused of sex with a surfaced on the Internet. Debra Beasley La. Fave, who is accused of and performing student at times. The pictures were reportedly taken when La. Fave was modeling as an 18 -year-old. La. Fave was released from the Hillsborough County Jail after posting $5, 000 bail. Her bail was reduced from $15, 000. 2
Stephanie Ragusa New sex charges for Tampa teacher HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY -- Stephanie Ragusa, a teacher accused of having sex with two of her students, has been arrested for a third time. The 28 -year-old was arrested and booked into Orient Road Jail Monday afternoon on two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. According to reports, Ragusa was caught in the act with a boy she is accused of having sex with before. Ragusa was first arrested on March 13 th, for having sex with a 14 -year-old boy. She was arrested for a second time on April 15 th for having sex with another student. Ragusa was a teacher at Davidson Middle School, in Tampa. ABC Action News-4/28/2008 3
Heidi Sweet Penalties very harsh for teachers caught in FCAT cheating limbo By BILL KACZOR THE ASSOCIATED PRESS TALLAHASSEE – Teacher Heidi Sweet says she put pencil marks next to questions some fifth-graders had skipped or gotten wrong while taking Florida's high-stakes standardized test to encourage them to try again. It was a career-ending mistake. She is one of 50 Florida teachers, counselors and administrators the state has disciplined in the past 10 years for cheating or making errors in giving the FCAT used to grade public schools and students, as well as other exams, according to files obtained from the state Education Department through a public records request. "This is like a warning to all you teachers out there -- don't mess with that FCAT, " said Sweet, who taught for 25 years. 4
Lesson on explosives gets teacher arrested By Amy C. Rippel The Orlando Sentinel Thursday, February 17, 2005 ORLANDO, Fla. — A Florida high-school chemistry teacher was arrested this week after students told authorities he taught his class how to make explosives, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said. David Pieski, 42, a teacher at Freedom High School for two years, used an overhead projector in his classroom to give students detailed instructions in bomb-making, including advising them to use an electric detonator to stay clear from the blast, according to an arrest report Monday. 5
General Purpose of SB 1712 n n n To establish a set of requirements for the employment and certification of educators To establish a procedure for reporting educator misconduct To identify the disciplinary actions taken against educators guilty of misconduct
To whom does the law apply? n n Instructional Personnel: any teacher, paraprofessional, aide, or substitute teacher who has direct contact with students. Administrators: any principal, assistant principal, dean, etc. who manages the daily operation of a school.
Background Information Florida has traditionally held all educators – instructional and administrative- to a “higher moral standard” in the community because of their role in educating children. They are placed in a “position of trust” as custodians of children and therefore must have a “good moral character. ” (Paraphrased and quoted from various court rulings)
Background Information Florida Statutes: 1006. 061, 1012. 315, 1012. 32 1012. 56, 1012. 785, 1012. 796 q State Board Rules: 6 B-1. 001 (Code of Ethics of the Education Profession in Florida) 6 B-1. 006 (Principles of Professional Conduct) q
Background Information n Code of Ethics *applies to all persons holding a Florida temporary or professional certificate *establishes the development of the student’s potential and the maintenance of the highest degree of ethical conduct as the primary concerns of educators
Background Information n Principles of Professional Conduct *applies to all persons holding a Florida temporary or professional certificate *outlines the obligations all educators have to the student, to the public, and to the profession.
Background Information n Employee Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (for the School District of De. Soto County) *applies to all district employees *establishes standards of behavior in the workplace, a chain of command procedures for reporting violations and an outline of possible disciplinary actions
Employee Code of Ethics (De. Soto County Schools) n n n Employees shall respect the rights of others. Employees shall exhibit behavior supporting the mission, goals, and best interests of the school district. Employees shall perform assigned duties in an orderly and efficient manner.
Employee Code of Ethics (De. Soto…continued) n n Employees shall work together to build a high performance team and perform as an active, positive member of that team. Employees shall not withhold or conceal any information requested by school officials.
Employee Code of Ethics (Desoto…continued) n n n Employees are expected to exemplify conduct that is lawful, professional, and that contributes to a positive learning environment for students. Employees shall adhere to the ethics of the statewide testing program Employees who are teachers shall comply with the Code of Ethics of the Education Profession in Florida.
Employee Code of Ethics (Desoto…continued) n n Employees who are teachers shall comply with the state’s Principles of Professional Conduct. Employees shall adhere to the Organizational Code of Conduct and all school district policies and regulations. (See “School Board Policies” and “Employee Handbook” in the Human Resources link on the district website)
What SB 1712 Requires School Districts to do… When hiring new instructional or administrative personnel, 1. check and document references and previous employment history, 2. check various databases for disciplinary actions taken against any job candidate, 3. perform federal criminal records rescreening every 5 years. n
What SB 1712 Requires School Districts to do… 4. disqualify from employment any individual convicted of any felony offense listed on the handout or link provided. (mandatory self-reporting within 48 hours) Note: SB 1712 denies certification to any applicant or revokes the certificate of any current educator who has been convicted of a disqualifying felony regardless of the date of the prior offense or conviction.
What SB 1712 Requires School Districts to do… 5. Report any convictions of disqualifying felonies to the Department of Education Note: Any Educator convicted of a felony involving “lewd and lascivious offenses committed on or in the presence of a person under 16” or “unlawful activity with certain minors” committed on or after October 1, 2008, shall forfeit all publiclyfunded retirement benefits.
What SB 1712 Requires School Districts to do… n n n Establish ethical standards and train instructional and administrative staff in these standards Require the reporting of any alleged misconduct, establish a procedure for reporting, and explain the liability protections afforded to reporters Prohibit confidentiality agreements with terminated employees
Some Examples of Misconduct n n n n Obscene language Drug and alcohol use Disparaging comments Prejudice or bigotry Sexual innuendo Cheating Testing violations Physical aggression etc.
Common Types of Allegations reported to the state n n n n n Sexual Misconduct Inappropriate Comments, Conduct Boundary Violations Misappropriation of School Funds Bullying/ Harassment Incompetence Fraudulent Information/Credentials Criminal Charges Alcohol/Drug Use
The Many “Faces” of Fraud n Producing a “manufactured” bogus degree n Purchasing a degree from a “Diploma Mill” n Lying on a job application n Lying on an application for certification
The Many “Faces” of Fraud n Tampering with student records/grades n Falsifying travel/reimbursement records n Mishandling/personally using school funds n Violating record keeping and/or accounting procedures
The Many “Faces” of Fraud n n Taking a “sick day” to shop, go to the beach, see a movie, etc. Misrepresenting yourself, your work, or your professional credentials to others (All fraudulent acts are acts of misconduct which should be reported. )
Some Signs of Possible Misconduct n n n Excessive physical contact with students Communicating using student slang Provocative dress or speech Phone calls, cards, gifts, emails, text messages between adult and student Using demeaning comments or discipline “Borrowing” money from students, parents or school funds
How to Report Misconduct of Educators or Administrators n n Report, verbally or in writing, any alleged educator misconduct to the site manager or administrator or to Mr. Dan Dubbert, Director of Student Services at 863. 993. 1333 Report any administrator misconduct directly to the Director of Human Resources or to the Superintendent of Schools at 863. 494. 4222.
Is Reporting Required? n n All employees have the legal and ethical responsibility to report any alleged educator or administrator misconduct which affects the health, safety, and welfare of students. Failure to report may result in disciplinary action or termination of employment.
Whom Should You Report? n n n n Classroom Teachers Paraprofessionals Substitute Teachers Librarians (Media Specialists) Guidance Counselors Social workers Psychologists Administrators etc.
What will happen after you report? n n n If the report is made “in good faith, ” you are immune from civil or criminal liability. The person receiving the report will log date, time, and details and notify the Superintendent within 24 hours. The accused may be reassigned or suspended pending further investigation and/or notification of higher authorities.
What kinds of Disciplinary Actions Can be Taken? n Depending on the severity of the offense, disciplinary actions could include Oral Reprimand (by supervisor or higher) n Written Reprimand (by supervisor or higher) n Suspension (by Superintendent and School Board) n Dismissal (by Superintendent and School Board) n (See School Board Policies)
Cumulative Discipline Prior offenses resulting in discipline may be used to determine the severity of the action taken for the current offense.
Progressive Discipline Employees who continue to violate the same standard of conduct may be subjected to progressively more severe discipline for the continued violations.
Standards for Disciplinary Action in De. Soto County School District (examples) n Damage or destruction of school property 1 st offense: written reprimand to dismissal 2 nd offense: suspension or dismissal 3 rd offense: dismissal
Standards for Disciplinary Action (examples) n Conviction of a misdemeanor or felony for a crime committed on or off the job: 1 st offense: suspension or dismissal 2 nd offense: dismissal
Standards for Disciplinary Action (examples) n Tardiness or absenteeism 1 st offense: oral reprimand 2 nd offense: written reprimand 3 rd offense: suspension 4 th offense: dismissal
Standards for Disciplinary Action (examples) n Misuse of school district funds, property, or equipment: 1 st offense: written reprimand to dismissal 2 nd offense: dismissal
Reporting Child Abuse/Neglect n n “Good Faith” reporting of child abuse, neglect, abandonment, is mandatory. Reporting is confidential. “Good faith” reporters are immune from liability & must comply with investigations. False reporters or those who fail to report may be guilty of a misdemeanor or felony.
Where to Report Child Abuse n Hotline: 1. 800. 96 ABUSE (962. 2873) n Online: www. dcf. state. fl. us/abuse/report/