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State seeks to cut reporting time after schools learn of employees’ bad acts

The Department of Education signals a desire to move quickly in removing offenders’ certification.
The Florida Department of Education has proposed a new rule cutting the time superintendents have to report misconduct by employees. [Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times]
The Florida Department of Education has proposed a new rule cutting the time superintendents have to report misconduct by employees. [Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times]
Published Aug. 13, 2019

The Florida Board of Education is poised to require school superintendents to act more quickly when they learn of misconduct by teachers or administrators that could put children at risk.

The board is set to consider a rule this month that would reduce the time allowed to report arrests, convictions or substantial allegations of 10 felony and one misdemeanor crimes, including murder, sexual activity with minors and enticing minors.

They would have 24 hours to send an email notification to the department, instead of the current 30 days.

Read the proposed rule here.

Department officials have recommended this change on the heels of a Miami Herald report about a middle school physical education teacher who faced several accusations of sexual misconduct involving students over 11 years. Also this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis removed Okaloosa County superintendent Mary Beth Jackson from office, amid accusations that she did not properly respond to allegations of teachers physically abusing children with special needs.

An Okaloosa teacher has been convicted on charges related to the abuse.

In its notification of the rule proposal, the department made clear it wants the change so it can take rapid action against any offenders. The notice states the information provided would become “the basis of a complaint to recommend revocation, suspension or other penalty of a educator’s certificate and ... provide the Commissioner information so that he can exercise his authority to request the reassignment of personnel from direct student contact.”

Under Richard Corcoran, named commissioner in January, the department has taken several strides to increase its oversight of districts and schools to ensure they meet state expectations. This recommended rule is the latest such effort.

RELATED: Getting tough: Florida’s education chief Richard Corcoran tells school districts to fall in line

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