Bill protecting due process for teachers wins unanimous approval

Mike Seals - March 2, 2021 10:22 pm

 OKLAHOMA CITY – A Senate bill aimed at ensuring teachers receive due process is now on it’s way to the House of Representatives for further consideration.  Senate Bill 13, by Sen. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City, was approved unanimously by the full Senate on Monday. Stanley said the bill addresses a loophole in current statutes that can result in a teacher being fired without due process.

If a teacher is accused and charged with a crime, under current law, the State Board of Education can suspend their teaching certificate on an emergency basis, without a hearing.  However, once that certificate is suspended, a district can terminate that teacher because a local district cannot employ an educator who doesn’t have a valid teaching certificate. Stanley said the end result is a teacher can be fired without a hearing and without being convicted of anything.

“Senate Bill 13 isn’t about protecting an educator who is guilty of a crime—it’s about due process,” Stanley said.  “Our legal system is based on the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty, but under current law, teachers may find themselves presumed guilty without any due process, and it can cost them their career, even if they’re innocent. This legislation is simply about ensuring that due process.”

Under SB 13, the State Board of Education could still suspend certification, enabling local districts to place an accused educator on administrative leave, but they couldn’t be fired unless their teaching certificate was actually revoked.  That revocation could only occur after a required hearing by the State Board.  The measure has the support of the American Federation of Teachers-Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

House Education Chair, Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, is the House principal author of SB 13.

For more information, contact Sen. Brenda Stanley at 405-521-5584 or email [email protected].

 

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