NEWS RELEASES 2009-10 :: MARCH 10, 2010


Ensuring a productive and safe school environment for students and teachers was the driving force behind the Task Force on Teacher Ethics and Licensure’s report, "Raising the Bar for North Carolina’s Teachers," today released by State Superintendent June Atkinson.

"A safe, positive and nurturing learning environment is essential to high academic performance in our classrooms," said State Superintendent Atkinson. "It is imperative that misconduct by teachers be promptly reported and appropriately investigated to ensure that we are achieving this goal." Atkinson went on to thank Task Force members and Department and Board staff for their commitment and diligence in developing the report and its corresponding recommendations.

In the report, the Task Force released 15 recommendations that would help hold teachers, administrators, substitute teachers and teacher assistants to the highest ethical standards. These recommendations include ways to change the current teacher licensure application and renewal process to gain a more comprehensive and accurate picture of the personal and professional backgrounds of those who apply to work in public schools.

Other recommendations call for increased communication among school districts, law enforcement, district attorneys, the State Board of Education and the public regarding teacher misconduct and discipline, and require teachers and administrators to report any criminal charges or arrests to their district and to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI).

State Superintendent Atkinson charged the Task Force with reviewing state laws and policies regarding ethics requirements for professional educators and to give special attention to the licensure application and certification process. Members included school board attorneys, human resource directors and members of various educational organizations such as the Professional Administrators of NC, North Carolina Association of Educators, Professional Educators of NC and the North Carolina School Boards Association.

Prior to 1993, no policy existed that required principals or local school districts to report to the NCDPI any misconduct of a licensed educator that would amount to sexual or physical abuse of a student, with the definition of sexual abuse being broad enough to encompass sexual misconduct on the part of a licensed educator. When misconduct is reported, the State Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Teacher Ethics investigates the allegation and makes a recommendation to the State Superintendent. The State Superintendent then recommends whether the educators’ license should be revoked to the State Board of Education where the final decision on all revoked, suspended or surrendered licenses is made. The State Board of Education first revoked a teacher's license in December 1967. Since that time, it has taken action against more than 430 licenses. The Board revoked 36 teaching licenses in 2009.

Atkinson said she would be forming an internal working group to determine how to best move forward with the Task Force’s recommendations. "In some cases, we will need the support and action of the State Board of Education and the General Assembly," said Atkinson. "My goal is to move these recommendations forward to make sure our schools and classrooms are safe and positive environments for learning."

The full report is available online. For more information, please contact the NCDPI Communications division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.