OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gov. Stitt signed a bill that protects due process for teachers, addressing a loophole in existing statutes that can lead to a teacher being fired without due process.
The State Board of Education currently has the power to suspend a teacher’s teaching certificate on an emergency basis, without a hearing, if that teacher is accused of and charged with a crime.
At that point, a school district can fire the teacher once the certificate is suspended because a local district cannot employ a teacher who doesn’t have a valid teaching certificate.
Senate Bill 13 allows the State Board of Education to still suspend certification, which enables school districts to place an accused teacher on administrative leave. But a teacher cannot be fired unless their teaching certificate was revoked, which can only happen after a required hearing by the State Board.
“Senate Bill 13 isn’t about protecting an educator who is guilty of a crime—it’s about due process,” Sen. Brenda 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.”
On Wednesday, Gov. Stitt signed the measure into law.