Fired a Substitute Teacher? You Need to Report it to the CTC

Imagine the unpleasant surprise one superintendent got recently when he received a warning letter from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing for failing to report that a teacher had been let go following allegations that she had pulled a child’s ear. Of course, most school administrators are aware that Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, Section 80303, requires notification to the CTC whenever a certificated employee’s employment status changes as a result of allegations of misconduct. But here, the employee was a substitute teacher. And the superintendent knew nothing about the decision not to use the substitute in the future.

While some school districts have formal processes for evaluating substitutes and letting them go, many do not. If the principal hears about a problem with a substitute, depending on the seriousness of the allegations, the matter may or may not be formally investigated. But the principal can exercise his or her sound judgment and simply decide never to use that particular substitute again to avoid any future problems. The warning letter from the CTC indicates that more needs to be done.

While a representative from the CTC agreed that the reporting requirement is a departure from past practice, reading the actual text of the regulation makes it clear that the notification is appropriate. It provides: “Whenever a credential holder, working in a position requiring a credential: (1) is dismissed or non-reelected; (2) resigns; (3) is suspended or placed on unpaid administrative leave as a final adverse employment action for more than 10 days; (4) retires; or (5) is otherwise terminated by a decision not to employ or re-employ; as a result of an allegation of misconduct or while an allegation of misconduct is pending, the superintendent of the employing school district shall report the change in employment status to the Commission not later than 30 days after the employment action.” No exceptions are specified for substitutes who are not called back. In reality, the decision not to use a substitute again in the future amounts to a “dismissal.” In addition, considering the purpose of the regulation (to allow the Commission to investigate allegations of misconduct and make determinations on credentialing status) the reporting requirement also makes sense.

You might wonder how the CTC found out about the school district’s oversight. As it so happened, the substitute was applying for a full credential, and on her application, had to disclose whether she had ever been let go with “allegations of misconduct pending.” She then disclosed the ear pulling incident. The lesson here is that all school districts should have policies and procedures in place to ensure that any time a decision is made to let a substitute go, and/or any time a substitute quits or resigns following allegations of misconduct, the District follow up with a report to the CTC within thirty (30) days.

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