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  • Excessive Drinking
  • "Your six convictions involving alcohol are sufficient proof you are unfit to teach."
  • Watson v. State Board of Education (1971)
  • "My convictions have not influenced my ability to teach!"
  • Criminal Indictment
  • I think I will sell my cocaine to these kids...
  • Dupree v. Sch. Comm. of Boston, (1983)
  • Criminal indictment for possession and intent to distribute cocaine can be considered misconduct in office. Suspension was justified. 
  • Misdemeanor
  • Kenai Penins. Bd. of Educ. v. Brown (1984)
  • I illegally diverted electricity from the power company to my house
  • "Your conduct is contrary to our community's moral standards. If you can't follow them, then how can you be fit to teach?"
  • Smelling of alcohol is likely not to be immediate grounds for dismissal, but if the teacher’s excessive drinking is an ongoing problem, there are various consequences. Generally, courts have found that excessive alcohol use is unprofessional conduct which sets a bad example for students and is sufficient evidence of immorality, as exemplified in the above California case. 
  • Felony
  • I only grew one marijuana plant.
  • "You will be retained as a teacher. Felony conviction without moral turpitude is not cause enough in and of itself for dismissal."
  • Criminal indictment may be cause for suspension or dismissal if the conduct relates to their job as a teacher. Even in cases where criminal charges are acquitted, the school may still be able to dismiss the teacher.
  • Contractable Disease
  • "I'm sorry Mr. Chalk, your results came back positive. You have AIDS."
  • Will I be able to continue teaching?
  • Misdemeanors  generally are not grounds for dismissal except in cases of moral turpitude or unprofessional conduct. This is illustrated by the above Alaska case when the teacher's conduct made the board question their fitness to teach after a crime that they believed constituted moral turpitude. 
  • Final Notes
  • When a teacher has engaged in immoral or unprofessional conduct, there only needs to be a preponderance of evidence for them to be dismissed. This is different than having to prove "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
  • Felony may result in teacher dismissal, however, in the above California case, the teacher was retained because his felony did not relate to moral turpitude according to the judge. 
  • Board of Trustees v. Judge (1975)
  • Educators with diseases that pose significant risk to be spread to students will not be qualified to teach, but persons with diseases such as AIDS or HIV cannot be removed because of their disease, provided their is no medical evidence to suggest they could pass it to students during their ordinary teaching duties in the school. Schools will need to make reasonable accommodations for them to continue teaching.
  • Chalk v. United States Dist. Court (1988)
  • Chalk was removed from his teaching position, but the court found this unjust. He was protected under sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act which protects handicapped individuals from discrimination.
  • Teachers today have a lot more freedom than those of the past, but there are still many behaviors that are considered immoral or unprofessional. Remember that if there is a nexus between the conduct and ones work as a teacher, it may result in dismissal. 
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