SBEC discusses warning letters

The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) met in Austin on October 7, 2011 and took action on several items.

1. Approved amendments to rules in 19 TAC 243.3 that

  • Revised proposed language to the definition of Deferred Adjudication which still allows SBEC to consider it in disciplinary matters but doesn’t equate it with a guilty conviction; and
  • Removed proposed language that would have allowed SBEC to issue warning letters to educators whose conduct may not rise to the level of an official sanction.

Both proposed rules received much public comment, including comments submitted by TSTA. One of our chief concerns about the warning letters was the fact that because SBEC does not maintain a personnel file on certificated educators, a warning letter would be subject to open records requests. Furthermore, educators would not have had the right to appeal or rebut the issuance of the warning letter. Fortunately, these provisions were removed.

2. Refused to rehear a certification revocation case brought by an educator whose certificate was revoked at SBEC  at its August 12, 2011 meeting.

3. Suspended the certificates of the principal and test coordinator at a middle school where egregious test violations had taken place. The two educators did not maintain the security and the integrity of TAKS answer booklets and this resulted in the invalidation of all 8th grade TAKS math scores on the campus. An erasure analysis of 80 test booklets indicated an average of 17.7 erasures per answer document (state average is 0.16%) and 90% of those changes were from the wrong answer to the right answer. Light mark analysis was done on all testing documents at the school and found that a similar pattern emerged on the 8th grade math and the 7th grade writing tests.

SBEC rules require that the campus principal and test coordinator are responsible for the security of the test and that test booklets/materials must be kept in a locked room with only one key. Test materials and answer booklets on this campus were kept in an office that several people had keys to.
All 8th grade students were required to retake the math TAKS during the summer.

4. Revoked the certificate of an educator (paraprofessional) who shaved a special needs student without the knowledge or consent of the child’s parents.

5. Suspended for four years the certificate of an educator who was (1) drinking on the job; (2) took flight in her vehicle; and (3) attempted to evade arrest.

Two concerns were raised by SBEC members as they considered disciplinary action on the educator certifications. There was discussion about an apparent inconsistency over how SBEC staff determined a period of suspension or even revocation, especially relative to DWI offenses. SBEC policy has been to align any suspension with the sentence handed down at the time of conviction. The second concern was whether SBEC could “recommend” additional action, such as completion of an alcohol awareness program as a condition to come off of a suspended certificate or placing an educator on a growth plan.  SBEC did make completion of an alcohol awareness program a condition for meeting the terms of the suspension but it does not have the authority to place a certificated educator on a growth plan.