FL may create a “state disqualification list” for disciplined educators

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With COVID-19 cases still surging, students may -- or may not --be filling up classrooms as the new academic year begins. Credit: Pixabay.

State lawmakers are pushing to require a “state disqualification list” of educators involved in serious disciplinary actions such as a revoked license.

The Department of Education would maintain the list of names, allowing school officials to have an additional screening tool to vet applicants during the hiring process, according to legislation proposed in the state House and Senate.

Hiring officials already have access to a database of education disciplinary actions as well as teacher certification information. And districts are required to do criminal background checks on applicants.

Individuals on the state disqualification list would include educators from traditional public schools, public charter schools run by private groups, and private schools that accept publicly-funded vouchers.

Those on the list “may not serve or apply to serve as an employee or contracted personnel” and anyone violating that provision would commit a third-degree felony, according to the legislation.

For charter schools, an individual on the list may not be employed as an employee or contract employee of a charter school or a charter school governing board.

As for a private school that accepts “scholarships” or vouchers that allow kids to attend private schools with public money, the school must deny employment to people on the disqualification list.

The legislation also says that the state Education Commissioner also “may deny or revoke the authority of an owner or operator to establish or operate a private school in this state if the commissioner decides that the owner operator is operating or has operated an educational institution in this state or another state or jurisdiction in a manner contrary to the health, safety, or welfare of the public, and shall include such individuals on the disqualification list.”

The language in the legislation appears to relate to a proposal last month from Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had discussed a similar program to keep disciplined educators out of schools.

DeSantis referred to “a Bad Actor List to prevent school operators who have been sanctioned or shut down by the state from working with Florida schools in the future. These individuals would be banned from engaging with schools in our state in any capacity for life,” according to a new release.

Senate Education Committee chairman Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr., of Miami-Dade, is sponsoring the Senate bill about the disqualification list. The bill is scheduled to be discussed at Tuesday’s committee meeting.




Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.


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