Introduced by Senator Condos of Chittenden District
Subject: Education; educator licensing
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to create a standards board in the department of education for professional educators for the purpose of licensing educators and prescribing standards for educator preparation programs.
AN ACT RELATING TO A STANDARDS BOARD FOR PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 16 V.S.A. chapter 51 is amended to read:
EXAMINATION AND LICENSING OF TEACHERS PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS
§ 1690. PURPOSE
The purpose of this chapter is to establish a board of professional educators to oversee the training, licensing, and professional standards of teachers and administrators and to establish hearing panels to determine compliance with those standards to help assure high caliber professionals and high quality educational programs for Vermont students.
§ 1691. Definitions
As used in this chapter:
(1) “Administrator” means an individual licensed under this chapter the majority of whose employed time in a public school, school district, or supervisory union is assigned to developing and managing school curriculum, evaluating and disciplining personnel, or supervising and managing a public school system or public school program.
(2) “Applicant” means an individual applying for a license.
(3) “Board” means the Vermont standards board for professional educators established under section 1654 of this title.
(4) “Disciplinary action” means action that suspends, revokes, limits or conditions licensure or certification in any way, and includes warnings, reprimands, probation, and administrative penalties.
(5) “Educator” means any teacher or administrator requiring a license under this chapter.
(6) “Endorsement” means the grade level and field in which an educator is authorized to serve. A license shall bear one or more endorsements.
(7) “Hearing panel” means the persons assigned in individual cases to find facts, reach conclusions of law, and make decisions regarding compliance with board standards for obtaining, retaining, and renewing licenses.
(8) “License” means a license to practice teaching or school administration, as the context requires, in the state, and includes, unless the context requires otherwise, the endorsements the licensee has applied for or possesses. “Licensee” means an individual licensed under this chapter.
(9) “Office” means the office within the department of education responsible for professional standards and educator licensing.
(10) “Teacher” means an individual licensed under this chapter the majority of whose employed time in a public school district or supervisory union is assigned to furnish to students direct instructional or other educational services, as defined by rule of the board, or who is otherwise subject to licensing as determined by the board.
§ 1692. REQUIREMENT AS TO
; AGE LIMIT A person
shall not teach Except for
substitute teaching in accordance with rules adopted by the board, a person
shall not be employed as a teacher or administrator in a public school without having
a license then in force. A license shall not be issued to a person under
seventeen years of age.
§ 1693. STANDARDS BOARD FOR PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS
(a) There is hereby established the Vermont standards board for professional educators comprising 11 members, six of whom shall be teachers, two of whom shall be administrators, two of whom shall be public members and one of whom shall be a representative of educator preparation programs.
(b) Appointment and qualifications. All members of the board shall be appointed by the governor for terms of three years which shall begin July 1 of the year of appointment. No person shall be eligible for more than one sequential reappointment. The governor shall assure appointments are consistent with the following requirements:
(1) Each member of the board shall be a citizen of the United States and a resident of this state.
(2) The educator members shall be generally representative of elementary and secondary schools and of programs of study taught in Vermont public schools and of administrative positions in Vermont public schools. Teacher members shall hold a license and have at least five years’ experience in public school teaching, at least three of which shall have been immediately preceding appointment. Administrator members shall hold a license and be endorsed as an administrator and have at least five years’ experience in public school administration, at least three of which shall have been immediately preceding appointment.
(3) The public members shall not be members of the state board of education or employees of any schools, and they shall not derive primary livelihood in the field of public or independent education at any level of responsibility.
(4) By appointment, the governor shall fill any vacancy on the board for the remainder of its term.
(c) Board officers; meetings. The board shall elect from its members a chair, vice chair, and secretary who shall serve for one year and until their successors are elected and seated. The board shall meet at the request of the chair or at such other times and places as the board may determine. Six members of the board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
(d) Compensation. The department of education shall compensate board members for the performance of their duties, and reimburse them for their actual and necessary expenses, in accordance with section 1010 of Title 32.
(e) Administration. The board shall be attached for administrative purposes to the office. With respect to the board, the commissioner shall:
(1) with the advice of the board, employ a director, prepare an annual budget and administer money appropriated to the board by the general assembly. The budget of the board shall be part of the budget of the department;
(2) employ administrative staff of the office;
(3) incur such other expenses as the commissioner determines are necessary; and
(4) act as custodian of the records of the board.
§ 1694. POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE BOARD
In addition to any other powers prescribed by law, or incidental or necessary to the exercise of such lawful powers, the board shall:
(1) Adopt rules pursuant to chapter 25 of Title 3 with respect to the licensing of teachers and administrators, and speech-language pathologists and audiologists as provided in chapter 87 of Title 26;
(2) Prescribe standards for educator preparation programs in Vermont and approve those that meet the requirements of this chapter and board rules;
(3) Establish standards, including endorsements, according to which individuals may obtain a license or have one renewed or reinstated;
(4) Oversee and monitor the licensing process administered by the office;
(5) Develop a code of professional ethics and act as advisor to professional educators regarding its interpretation; and
(6) Undergo annual training regarding its duties, including an opportunity to discuss with the hearing panels, established pursuant to section 1663 of this title, the application of licensing standards in licensing decisions and allegations of unprofessional conduct.
GRANTED IN ANOTHER STATE REVIEW
board shall make regulations relating to the recognition of teachers’ licenses,
diplomas and educational credentials granted in any other state, provided such
other state shall recognize, by substantially reciprocal regulations or laws,
such licenses, diplomas and educational credentials issued in this state. Prior to the prefiling by the board of a licensing standard
or procedure proposed for rulemaking pursuant to section 820 of Title 3, the
commissioner may object to it before the state board of education on the grounds
that it would have significant adverse financial or operational impact on the
public school system. If the state board of education agrees, it may remand
the proposed rule to the board for further deliberations consistent with its
written decision. The commissioner may also object on the same grounds to a
substantive change to a proposed rule, once initiated, before a final proposal
is filed pursuant to section 841 of Title 3.
§ 1696. LICENSING
(a) Qualifications of applicants. An applicant shall submit to the board evidence satisfactory to it that the applicant either has completed all requirements of an approved educator preparation program or has otherwise acquired the knowledge and skills required for a license through coursework and experiences apart from an approved educator preparation program.
(b) License by reciprocity. By rule, the board shall establish standards according to which an applicant who meets the licensing standards of another state with standards substantially similar to Vermont’s may be accorded a license in this state, provided the other state recognizes, by substantially reciprocal regulations or laws, licenses issued in this state.
(c) Temporary licenses. By rule, the board may establish standards, if any, by which an applicant who otherwise does not meet the standards for a license may obtain, for a period not to exceed two years, a temporary license, by whatever name it is given.
(d) Appeal. An applicant aggrieved by a decision of the office regarding the issuance or renewal of a license may appeal that decision by notifying the commissioner in writing within 30 days of receiving the decision. The commissioner forthwith shall transmit notice of the appeal to the administrative officer for hearing panels to initiate the appeal process set forth in section 1664 of this title.
* * *
§ 1697. FEES
(a) Each applicant and licensee shall be subject to the following fees:
(1) Initial processing of application $35.00
(2) Issuance of initial license for the term of the license $35.00
(3) Renewal of license for the term of the renewal $35.00
(4) Replacement of license $10.00
(5) Duplicate license $3.00
(6) Peer review process $1,200.00
collected under this section shall be credited to special funds established and
managed pursuant to
chapter 7, subchapter 5 of chapter 7 of Title
32, and shall be available to the department to offset the costs of providing
§ 1698. UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
Any one of the following or any combination of the following constitutes unprofessional conduct whether or not the conduct at issue was committed within or outside the state:
(1) Failure to meet the conditions for issuance of a license or endorsement or renewal or reinstatement thereof;
(2) Failure of a licensee to demonstrate the competencies specified in the rules of the board;
(3) Conviction for a criminal offense in which the underlying circumstances, conduct, or behavior:
(i) places a student or students in potential physical or emotional jeopardy; or
(ii) evidences moral unfitness to be an educator;
(4) Conduct on or off duty that either places a student or students in potential physical or emotional jeopardy or evidences moral unfitness to practice teaching; and
(5) Falsification, misrepresentation, or misstatement of material information provided in connection with the application for or renewal or reinstatement of a license or endorsement.
§ 1699. REPORTS OF ALLEGED UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
(a) Any individual may and a superintendent who has reasonable cause to believe a licensee has engaged in unprofessional conduct shall submit a written report to the commissioner of education concerning allegations of unprofessional conduct about a licensee.
(b) Except as provided in section 1669 of this title, information provided the licensing office under this section shall be confidential.
(c) A person who acts in good faith under the provisions of this section shall not be liable for damages in any civil action.
§ 1700. INVESTIGATION
(a) Investigation committee. Upon receiving notice of either an applicant’s appeal of a licensing office decision or an allegation of unprofessional conduct on the part of a licensee, the hearing panel administrative officer shall assign one or more of its licensee members to serve on an investigation committee, with an investigator and prosecuting attorney assigned by the commissioner of education, to investigate the licensing decision or allegation and make recommendations to the commissioner in accordance with subsections (b) and (d) of this section. Teacher members shall be assigned to assist in the investigation of matters involving teachers and administrator members in matters involving administrators. Members shall not serve on a hearing panel regarding any matter they assisted in investigating. If the administrative officer is unable to assign one or more members to the investigation committee by reason of disqualification, resignation, vacancy or necessary absence, the officer shall appoint ad hoc members, who shall meet the requirements of subsection 1654(b) of this title.
(b) Preliminary review. After conducting a preliminary review of an allegation of unprofessional conduct or of a denial of a license based on alleged unprofessional conduct, the investigation committee shall make a recommendation to the commissioner regarding whether to conduct a formal investigation.
(c) Formal investigation. If the commissioner decides to conduct a formal investigation, the commissioner shall notify the educator and direct the investigation committee to proceed with a formal investigation.
(d) Recommendation. Upon completing its investigation, the investigation committee shall recommend that the commissioner, with respect to a license application, affirm or reverse a licensing office decision or, with respect to alleged unprofessional conduct, issue or not issue formal disciplinary charges.
(e) Professional guidance. In its recommendation as to whether the commissioner should issue formal charges and, if so, what form they should take, the committee may consider the effect it believes its professional guidance may have in mitigating the need for and nature of disciplinary action.
§ 1701. COMMISSIONER’S DETERMINATION
(a) Matters involving denial of licensure. With respect to an applicant’s appeal, the commissioner shall, within 10 days of receiving the committee’s recommendation, affirm or reverse the licensing decision and notify the applicant in writing. If the commissioner reverses the decision, the office shall issue a license accordingly. If the commissioner affirms the decision, the applicant may appeal by notifying the commissioner in writing within 10 days of receiving the commissioner’s decision. The commissioner shall forthwith notify the hearing panel administrative officer of the appeal.
(b) Matters involving alleged unprofessional conduct. With respect to a licensee alleged to have engaged in unprofessional conduct, the commissioner shall, within 10 days of receiving the investigation committee’s recommendation, determine whether to issue a formal charge and what, if any, disciplinary action should be imposed. If the commissioner determines no formal charge is warranted, the commissioner shall notify the licensee in writing. If the commissioner determines a formal charge is warranted, the commissioner shall prepare a formal charge, file it with the hearing panel administrative officer, and cause a copy to be served upon the licensee charged together with a notice of hearing and procedural rights, as provided in this chapter.
§ 1702. HEARING PANELS
(a) Appointment. The governor shall appoint seven teachers, four administrators and three members of the public to serve on hearing panels for terms of three years beginning on July 1 of the year of appointment. No person shall be eligible for more than one sequential reappointment. The governor shall ensure appointments are consistent with the requirements found in subdivisions 1654(b)(1) ‑ (3) of this title. By appointment, the governor shall fill any vacancy for the remainder of its term. Panel members shall be considered appointive officers for the purposes of chapter 29 of Title 3 and shall be compensated in accordance with section 1010 of Title 32.
(b) Administration. The hearing panels shall be attached for administrative purposes to the office. The office shall ensure panel members undergo training on no less than an annual basis regarding their duties. The training shall include an opportunity for panel members and the board to discuss the application of licensing standards in licensing decisions and allegations of unprofessional conduct. Annually, the panel members shall meet collectively to:
(1) elect an administrative officer for the purpose of assigning hearing panels in licensing matters;
(2) approve a pool, based upon the commissioner’s recommendation, of impartial hearing officers who shall be attorneys admitted to practice in this state; and
(3) plan professional development activities.
(c) Powers and duties of hearing panels. Hearing panels shall have the authority to determine compliance by applicants, licensees, and the office with board standards according to which individuals may obtain, renew, and retain a license. Upon notification that the applicant has appealed under subsection 1662(a) of this title or issued a formal charge under subsection 1662(b) of this title, the administrative officer shall appoint a hearing officer and a panel, as well as a chair for the panel. The commissioner shall select a hearing officer approved by the panel members. Panels hearing appeals of teachers shall comprise two teacher members and one public member. Panels hearing appeals of administrators shall comprise two administrator members and one public member. In the conduct of proceedings, the hearing officer, or the panel if it takes additional evidence under subsection 1667(a) of this title, may:
(1) Issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the furnishing of evidentiary material in connection with a hearing;
(2) Authorize depositions to be taken as needed in any investigation, hearing or proceeding;
(3) Conduct administrative hearings in accordance with this section, section 1666 of this title, and chapter 25 of Title 3 regarding appeals of licensing decisions and charges of unprofessional conduct;
(4) In the case of the hearing officer recommend and in the case of a hearing panel make decisions regarding appeals of licensing decisions and disciplinary charges; and
(5) Undertake any other actions and procedures specified in or required or appropriate to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
§ 1703. TIME AND NOTICE OF HEARING
The chair of the panel shall fix the time of hearing, which shall be between 30 and 60 days after, as applicable, filing of the license application appeal or service of the charge on the licensee. The chair shall provide the applicant or licensee notice of the hearing, in it stating the following: the time and place of the hearing; the right of the applicant or licensee charged to file with the chair a written response within 20 days of the date of service; the fact that a stenographic record of the proceeding will be kept; the rights of the applicant or licensee charged at hearing to appear personally, to be represented by counsel, to produce witnesses and evidence, to cross-examine witnesses, and to examine such documentary evidence as may be produced; and, in the case of a licensee’s alleged unprofessional conduct, the range of discipline to which the licensee charged may be subject if found to have engaged in unprofessional conduct.
§ 1704. BURDEN OF PROOF
(a) Denial of licensure. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, the burden of proof in matters involving the initial denial of a license or the addition of an endorsement to a license once issued shall be on the applicant by a preponderance of the evidence.
(b) Alleged unprofessional conduct. The burden of proof in matters involving alleged unprofessional conduct, including denial of a license based on alleged unprofessional conduct, shall be on the commissioner by a preponderance of the evidence.
§ 1705. HEARING OFFICER RECOMMENDATION
The hearing officer shall conduct the hearing for the purpose of issuing
recommended findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a proposed decision to the hearing panel. The hearing officer may administer oaths and otherwise exercise the powers of a judicial officer regarding the conduct of a fair and impartial hearing. Within 30 days of the hearing, the hearing officer shall recommend to the hearing panel findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a decision, and by certified mail provide a copy to the applicant or licensee.
§ 1706. DECISION AND ORDER
(a) Hearing panel decision. The hearing panel may take additional evidence and may accept, reject, or modify the recommendations of the hearing officer and shall issue findings of fact, conclusions of law, and an order within 30 days of the conclusion of the hearing, unless the hearing panel grants an extension for good cause. The hearing panel shall provide the commissioner and, by certified mail, the applicant or licensee charged a copy of the decision. If a licensee charged is not found to have engaged in unprofessional conduct, the hearing panel shall include in its order a statement that the charges were not substantiated by the evidence and it shall dismiss the charges.
(b) Charges substantiated. If a licensee charged is found to have engaged in unprofessional conduct, the hearing panel, in its order, may: take no action; issue a warning; issue a private reprimand; issue a public reprimand; or condition, limit, suspend, or revoke the license to practice. An administrative penalty not to exceed $1,000.00 may be imposed by itself, or in connection with the issuance of a warning or of a private or public reprimand.
§ 1707. APPEAL FROM PANEL ORDER
(a) Appeal to state board of education.
(1) A party aggrieved by a final decision of a hearing panel may, within 30 days of the decision, appeal that decision by filing a notice of appeal with the administrative officer of the hearing panel who shall refer the case to the state board of education. The parties may agree to waive this review by written stipulation filed with the state board of education. The state board of education shall conduct its review on the basis of the record created before the hearing panel, and it shall allow the presentation of evidence regarding alleged irregularities in hearing procedure not shown in the record.
(2) The state board of education shall not substitute its judgment for that of the hearing panel as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact. It may affirm the decision, or may reverse and remand the matter with recommendations if substantial rights of the appellant have been prejudiced because the hearing panel’s finding, inferences, conclusions, or decisions are:
(A) in violation of constitutional or statutory provisions;
(B) in excess of the statutory authority of the hearing panel;
(C) made upon unlawful procedure;
(D) affected by other error of law;
(E) clearly erroneous in view of the evidence on the record as a whole;
(F) arbitrary or capricious; or
(G) characterized by abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion.
(b) Following appeal or waiver of appeal to the state board of education, a party may appeal to the superior court in Washington County, which shall review the matter de novo.
§ 1708. ACCESSIBILITY AND CONFIDENTIALITY OF LICENSING
(a) It is the purpose of this section both to protect the reputation of licensees from public disclosure of unwarranted complaints against them and to fulfill the public’s right to know of any action taken against an applicant or a licensee when that action is based on a determination of unprofessional conduct.
(b) All meetings and hearings of the board and hearing panels shall be open to the public, except in accord with chapter 5 of Title 1.
(c) The commissioner shall prepare and maintain a register of all complaints, which shall be a public record, and which shall show:
(1) with respect to all complaints for which a formal investigation is initiated under subsection 1661(c) of this title, the following information:
(A) the date and the nature of the complaint, but not the identity of the licensee or information that could be used to identify the licensee; and
(B) a summary of the completed investigation; and
(2) only with respect to complaints resulting in the filing of a formal charge under subsection 1662(b) of this title, the following additional information:
(A) the name and business addresses of the licensee, and the name of the complainant, if disclosure is permitted under federal or state law and does not provide personally identifying information about a student;
(B) formal charges, provided they have been served or a reasonable effort to serve them has been made;
(C) except as provided under chapter 5 of title 1, the findings, conclusions and order of the hearing panel; and
(D) final disposition of the matter.
(d) The hearing panel and the commissioner shall not disclose to anyone but the applicant or the licensee charged any information regarding a disciplinary complaint, proceeding, or record, except the information required to be released under this section.
(e) A licensee or applicant shall have the right to inspect and copy all information in the possession of the department of education pertaining to the licensee or applicant, except investigatory files not resulting in unprofessional conduct charges and attorney work product.
(f) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the disclosure of information:
(1) regarding disciplinary complaints to state or federal law enforcement agencies provided the agency agrees to maintain the confidentiality and privileged status of the information as provided in subsection (d) of this section; or
(2) regarding denials of licensure for cause, and license suspensions or revocations, and including reinstatements of licenses, to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, consistent with the member agreement executed between it and state of Vermont. For the purposes of this subdivision, “cause” includes any circumstance or activity also deemed to be a revocable offense.
§ 1709. REPORTS
The commissioner of education shall issue annually a report to the board which shall contain:
(1) the number of new licensees and endorsements they receive, the number of licenses that have lapsed without renewal, and the total number of licensees;
(2) a summary of all complaints requiring preliminary review, formal
investigation and formal charges; and
(3) an accounting of all fees and administrative penalties received by the office and all expenditures and costs of the office for the year.
Sec. 2. 16 V.S.A. § 1931(20) is amended to read:
shall mean any licensed teacher, principal, supervisor, superintendent, or any
professional licensed by the
state board of education Vermont standards board for professional
employed for the full normal working time for his or her position in a public
day school within the state, or in any school or teacher-training institution
located within the state, controlled by the state board of education, and supported
wholly by the state; or any teacher, principal, supervisor, superintendent, or
any professional regularly employed for the full normal working time for his or
her position in any nonsectarian independent school which serves as a high
school for the town or city in which the same is located, provided such school
is not conducted for personal profit. It shall also mean any person employed
in a teaching capacity in certain public independent schools designated for
such purposes by the board of trustees in accordance with section 1935 of this
title. In all cases of doubt the board of trustees, herein defined, shall
determine whether any person is a teacher as defined in this chapter. It shall
not mean a person who is teaching with an emergency license.
Sec. 3. 16 V.S.A. § 1981(1) and (5) are amended to read:
(1) “Administrator” means any person so
licensed by the
state board of education Vermont standards board for
professional educators, the majority of whose employed time in a school or
a school district is devoted to serving as superintendent, assistant superintendent,
assistant to the superintendent, supervisor, principal, or assistant principal.
(5) “Teacher” means any person licensed
employable as a teacher by the
state board of education Vermont standards board for professional
educators who is not an administrator
as herein defined.
Sec. 4. 26 V.S.A. § 4451(3), (10), and (14) are amended to read:
(3) “Board” means the
state board of
education Vermont standards board for professional educators unless the context clearly requires
(10) “Private practice” means any work performed by a licensed
speech-language pathologist or audiologist that is not within the
jurisdiction of the
state board of education.
(14) “Within the jurisdiction of the
state board of education” means conduct or work performed by a licensed
speech-language pathologist or audiologist on behalf of a supervisory union or
public school district in Vermont or an independent school approved for special
education purposes, or conduct otherwise subject to discipline under the
board of education licensing rules of the board.
Sec. 5. 26 V.S.A. § 4454(b) is amended to read:
(b) This chapter shall not be construed
to limit the authority of the
state board of education board to
determine and evaluate the qualifications of, issue licenses to, or discipline licensees
who are within the jurisdiction of the state board of education or
the Vermont standards board for professional
Sec. 6. 26 V.S.A. § 4455(b) is amended to read:
(b) The secretary shall seek the advice
of the individuals appointed under this section in matters related to
qualifications or alleged misconduct not within the jurisdiction of the
board of education. The advisors shall be entitled to compensation and
necessary expenses as provided in section 1010 of Title 32 for meetings called
by the director.
Sec. 7. 26 V.S.A. § 4456(a)(6) is amended to read:
(6) refer all complaints and disciplinary
matters not within the jurisdiction of the
state board of education
to the secretary of state;
Sec. 8. 26 V.S.A. § 4457 is amended to read:
§ 4457. LICENSURE; APPLICATIONS; ELIGIBILITY
Applicants for licenses under this chapter
shall submit an application to the department on a form furnished by the
department, along with payment of the specified fee and evidence of the
eligibility qualifications established by the
state board of
education which shall include, at a minimum:
* * *
Sec. 9. 26 V.S.A. § 4458(a) is amended to read:
(a) A license shall be renewed at an
interval determined by the state board of education which shall be no fewer
than every two years and no more than every seven years upon payment of the
renewal fee, provided the person applying for renewal completes professional
development activities in accord with the processes approved by the department
Vermont standards board for professional educators, during
the interval. The board shall establish, by rule, guidelines and criteria for
the renewal or reinstatement of licenses issued under this chapter.
Sec. 10. REPEAL
16 V.S.A. § 164(5) is repealed.
Sec. 11. TRANSITION; EFFECTIVE DATE
(a) The current Vermont standards board for professional educators shall continue to perform its duties under existing state board of education rules and its appointed members shall continue in their positions during fiscal year 2007. Notwithstanding any state board rule to the contrary, the state board may reappoint current standards board members for fiscal year 2007.
(b) During fiscal year 2007, the governor shall appoint members of the Vermont standards board for professional educators and the individuals to serve on the hearing panels for staggered terms commencing July 1, 2007.
(c) This act shall become effective July 1, 2007.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street