Bad teacher blacklist moves to Gov. Ron DeSantis

The bill would ensure fired teachers can’t get new jobs at different schools.

Florida Politics | A. G. Gancaski | April 29, 2021

Legislation that would create a blacklist of problematic teachers unanimously passed the Senate Thursday and will head to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The goal: to ensure fired teachers don’t get new gigs.

HB 131, sponsored by Rep. Wyman Duggan in the House, sets up a “disqualification list” of school employees fired for bad behavior. The list would foreclose the potential for them to move into other schools where that behavior could repeat.

The Senate version, carried by Sen. Keith Perry, was laid on the table for the Duggan bill, which passed the House unanimously previously. The Gainesville Republican noted the legislation closed a “loophole.”

The bill targets those who have “been permanently denied an educator certificate or whose educator certificate has been permanently revoked.” That includes teachers and staff terminated or resigned due to sexual misconduct with a student.

“The bill requires the Commissioner of Education to make a probable cause determination within 90 days after receiving a legally sufficient complaint that involves sexual misconduct by any certificate holder (i.e. instructional personnel and administrators). Upon receiving a notification from an employer that the subject of a legally sufficient complaint resigns or is terminated before the conclusion of the investigation, the bill requires the DOE to place the person on the DQ list,” asserts a House committee analysis of the legislation.

There is a mechanism for removal from the list, involving proof of exoneration or mistaken identity, or a completed law enforcement investigation proving the charges baseless.

The bill targets traditional public schools, but also non-traditional recipients of state money, including charter institutions and other private schools that welcome state scholarship recipients.

A legislative analysis held that the bill was not likely to have a fiscal impact, but that was before the Senate debated an amendment from Sen. Aaron Bean addressing a different sort of cleanup matter.

“The Department of Education shall coordinate with the Department of Management Services to clean the roof of the Tallahassee Department of Education building by July 1, 2023,” the new language reads.

“This amendment says work with DMS and clean your roof,” the Fernandina Beach Republican summed up.

However, Bean dropped the amendment. And ended any drama regarding this legislation.

Image: Adobe Stock

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