Educator Conduct Glossary

This glossary will assist visitors in understanding terminology in the Frequently Asked Questions and other sections related to ODE's Office of ProfessionalConduct (OPC).

Investigator - investigates cases involving criminal convictions. With regard to a hearing, an investigator is an Ohio Department of Education employee who may testify about the process of investigating the misconduct or criminal conviction and who identifies records. (This can be either an investigator or an attorney.)

Respondent – a person who currently holds a license, certificate, or permit or a person who has applied for a license, certificate, or permit.  Under Chapter 33 of the OAC, respondent means the educator that is subject to the rules of chapter 3301-73 of the Administrative Code. OAC 3301-73-03(E).

Assistant Attorney General – (AAG) – a representative of the Ohio Attorney General’s office who represents the Ohio Department of Education in Administrative hearings.

Court reporter – an individual who makes a stenographic record of the testimony, evidence, and rulings and who transcribes the hearing process.

Office of Professional Conduct – (OPC) – the office within the Ohio Department of Education that is responsible for conducting investigations of individuals who are or want to be licensed by the Ohio Department of Education. The office investigates prior convictions, as well as allegations of professional misconduct and/or criminal convictions.

Misdemeanor -  misdemeanors include any offense specifically classified as a misdemeanor and also any offense not specifically classified as a misdemeanor, provided that imprisonment for not more than one year may be imposed as a penalty. Misdemeanors can be classified as misdemeanors of the first, second, third, fourth degree or minor misdemeanor.

Minor misdemeanor - any offense not specifically classified as a minor misdemeanor is a minor misdemeanor if the only penalty that may be imposed is one of the following: for an offense committed prior to 01/01/04, a fine not exceeding $100; for an offense committed on or after 01/01/04, a fine not exceeding $150, community service under ORC 2929.27, or a financial sanction other than a fine under ORC 2929.28. ORC 2901.02

Felony – felonies include any offense specifically classified as a felony, aggravated murder, murder, and any offense not specifically classified as a felony, if imprisonment for more that one year may be imposed as a penalty. Felonies can be classified as felonies of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth degree. ORC 2901.02

Conduct unbecoming – while "conduct unbecoming" is not defined by the Ohio Revised Code, it encompasses allegations of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and emotional maltreatment of a child. It also includes, but is not limited to: allegations of sexual harassment; improper relationships with students (physical, emotional, sexual, etc.); academic fraud; proficiency test violations; educators exposing students to inappropriate material; falsification of a licensing/certification application and falsification of professional credentials to receive licensure or certification; crimes or conduct involving minors, school children, or the school community; and violating terms and conditions of a consent agreement. OAC 3301-73-21(B)

Unemployable offenses – ORC 3319.39 says that no board of education of a school district, no governing board of an educational service center, and no governing authority of a chartered nonpublic school shall employ an individual as a person responsible for the care, custody or control of a child if that person has previously been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any of the offenses listed. 

Disciplinary action – ORC 3319.31 grants the State Board of Education (SBOE) authority to deny an application for a teaching license or to suspend, limit, or revoke an existing teaching license. The grounds for the SBOE to pursue disciplinary action are listed in 3319.31. There are several types of disciplinary actions that the SBOE can pursue to eliminate unprofessional conduct from the teaching profession. The SBOE can issue a warning letter, a letter of reprimand/admonishment, negotiate a consent agreement, or initiate formal disciplinary proceedings. The disciplinary action pursued is based upon the nature of the allegations/criminal conviction and the information gathered during an investigation. 

  1. Voluntary surrender – when a licensed/certified educator voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently agrees in writing to permanently give up a license or certificate and gives up all rights to hold a position which requires a license or certificate issued by the state board. OAC 3301-73-22(B)
  2. Revocation – when the SBOE rescinds an educator’s license or certificate. Revocation of a license is permanent. The SBOE may establish a minimum period of time before an applicant can apply for a new license. The SBOE may also order that the respondent is permanently ineligible to apply for any license and may also order that the respondent shall no longer be permitted to hold any position in any school district in the state that requires a license issued by the SBOE. OAC 3301-73-22(A)(2)
  3. Suspend – a suspension precludes the teacher from performing any educational activity within the state of Ohio that requires a license through the Ohio Department of Education during the suspension period. Suspension of a license is for a period of time not to exceed 5 years. After the conclusion of the suspension, a license will be reactivated if the educator demonstrates compliance with any educational requirements and conditions of the suspension. OAC 3301-73-22(A)(1)
  4. Deny - when the SBOE refuses to grant a license to an applicant.  A denial of an application is a permanent action. After the denial, the SBOE will (1) establish a minimum period of time before an applicant can reapply for a license, and (2) order that the applicant is permanently ineligible to apply for any license issued by the SBOE and that the respondent is not permitted to hold any position in any school district in the state that requires a license issued by the SBOE. OAC 3301-73-22(A)(3)
  5. Limit – a restriction placed on a teaching license. For example, a limit may state that the license is only valid and can only be used in the sponsoring school district.
  6. Letter of admonishment – a severe, formal or official written rebuke intended to correct misconduct or critically caution against misconduct. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Department of Education’s file. The license holder may respond in writing to the letter within 30 days of receipt of the letter and the response will also be placed in the Department’s file. OAC 3301-73-22(C)
  7. Warning – a cautionary letter meant to warn against unprofessional conduct
  8. Sign off – Upon receiving allegations of professional misconduct or information regarding criminal convictions, a preliminary inquiry will be made to determine whether an investigation is warranted and whether the Office of Professional Conduct has jurisdiction over the case. If a case does not require a full investigation, an application will automatically be approved for issuance. Some criminal offenses that may be eligible for automatic approval include most traffic violations, disorderly conduct convictions which do not stem from violent or sexually related conduct, most minor misdemeanors, underage consumption of alcohol, and many criminal trespass convictions.

Consent agreement – (ORC 3319.311(D) – a contract between an educator/pre-service educator who is subject to discipline under ORC 3319.31 and the SBOE. The purpose of a consent agreement is to formulate a mutually agreeable disposition of a disciplinary matter without going through a formal administrative hearing. The consent agreement establishes the terms and conditions upon which the educator/pre-service educator’s disciplinary matter will be resolved. The terms may include periodic reports from the employing school district regarding professional conduct of an educator, completion of continuing education classes, random drug screenings, community service, or a period of time that the license is suspended. For specific terms of a consent agreement, see OAC 3301-73-23(A)

Administrative hearing – if the nature of the allegation or criminal conviction warrants formal disciplinary proceedings or if a consent agreement cannot be reached, OPC recommends to the SBOE that it deny an educator/pre-service educator’s application, or suspend, revoke, or limit an educator’s license. To initiate a formal disciplinary action, OPC (on behalf of the state superintendent of instruction) sends a letter to the educator notifying him/her of the SBOE’s intent to deny the application or to suspend, limit or revoke the educator’s license or certificate. Pursuant to ORC Chapter 119, the educator may request an administrative hearing within 30 days from the date the letter of intent was mailed (via certified mail) to the educator. Rules governing filings with regard to administrative hearings are contained in OAC 3301-73-06(A)-(K).

Broken contract – A teacher may terminate a contract any time between the end of the school year session and July 10th by giving five days’ written notice to the employing school board. A teacher shall not terminate a contract before the end of the school year or after July 10th without the consent of the board of education. If a teacher terminates a contract in any manner other than as provided for above, the employing school board may file a complaint with the SBOE. After an investigation by the SBOE, the license of the teacher who terminated the contract may be suspended for not more than one year. ORC 3319.15   

Public record – records kept by any public office, including, but not limited to: state, county, city, village, township, and school district units, and records pertaining to the delivery of educational services by an alternative school in Ohio kept by a nonprofit or for profit entity operating such alternative school pursuant to 3313.533 of the Revised Code. ORC 149.43. For SBOE and Department of Education purposes, the following are public records: consent agreement; letter of admonishment; notice of opportunity of administrative hearing; exhibits offered into evidence in an administrative hearing; administrative hearing transcript; superintendent’s proposed resolution; report and recommendation of a hearing officer; objections to the hearing officer’s report and recommendation; SBOE's final resolution. All other information obtained in the course of an investigation, including but not limited to, all offers of settlement, proposals of adjustment, and proposed stipulations not agreed to are not public records and shall remain confidential. OAC 3301-73-04(A) – (G)

State Board of Education  – (SBOE) – A 19-member board (ORC 3301.01) charged with general supervision of the system of public education in the state of Ohio. OAC 3304-73-03(A) (See ORC 3301.07 for a list of specific powers and duties of the SBOE.)

Superintendent – the chief administrative officer of the Department of Education who, subject to board policies, rules and regulations, shall exercise general supervision of the Department of Education. OAC 3301-73.03(B), ORC 3301.13

Department of Education – the administrative unit and organization through which the policies, directives, and powers of the SBOE and the duties of the superintendent of public instruction are administered. ORC 3301.13

District – under chapter 33 of the Ohio Administrative Code, district means all school districts as described under ORC 3311.01, educational service centers, community schools, county MR/DD’s, or chartered nonpublic schools. OAC 3301-73-03(D)

Parties – the Ohio Department of Education and the respondent. OAC 3301-73-03(F)

License –– a certificate, license, or permit as defined under ORC 3301.071(B), 3301.07.4, 3319.08.8 or 3319.29. OAC 3301-73-03(G)

Intervention – petitions to intervene on behalf of any party shall not be permitted. OAC 3301-73-07

Hearing officer – an Ohio-licensed attorney who serves as a neutral fact finder in conducting administrative hearings. The authority and duties of a hearing officer are contained in OAC 3301-73-09(A)-(G).

Motions – all motions (except as otherwise provided in ORC chapter 119), unless made upon the record, shall be in writing. A written motion shall state with particularity the relief or order sought, shall be accompanied by a memorandum setting forth the grounds thereof and shall be filed in compliance with OAC 3301-73-06.  All motions (together with supporting documentation) shall be served on the opposing party. A response to the motion may be filed within 10 days from the date of service of the written pre-hearing motion. The hearing officer may fix a time other than 10 days for the filing of a response to the motion. No replies to the initial response shall be permitted. After consideration of all memoranda and supporting documents filed, the hearing officer shall enter a written ruling and shall serve copies of the ruling on the parties and their counsel. The hearing officer shall include in each written ruling on a motion a statement of the reasons for the ruling. OAC 3301-73-11(A) - (C).

Pre-hearing conference – Upon motion of any party or at the initiation of the hearing officer, the hearing officer shall schedule a pre-hearing conference for the following purposes: identification of issues; obtaining stipulations to admissions; agreements limiting the number of witnesses; discussions of documents, exhibits and witness lists; estimating the time necessary for the hearing; or discussion of any matters the hearing officer deems appropriate. All offers of settlement, proposals for adjustment, and proposed stipulations not agreed to shall be privileged, shall not constitute admissions, shall not be admissible in evidence against the respondent making the offer or proposal, and shall not be a public record under ORC 149.43. OAC 3307-73-12(A) - (E).

Subpoena – a order of the State Superintendent for a witness to appear at a particular time and place and to testify and/or produce documents in the control of the witness. If the subpoena requires documents, it is called a subpoena duces tecum. Upon written request by any party or at the request of the hearing officer on his own authority, the superintendent shall issue subpoenas (for the purposes of the hearing) to compel attendance and testimony of witnesses and production of information. Each subpoena shall indicate on whose behalf the witness is required to testify. Copies of such subpoena shall be mailed to the representatives of record. Each party shall be responsible for service of subpoenas requested. 

  • Subpoena requests shall specify the name and address of the person to be served and the date, time, and location at which they are to appear at the administrative hearing. If the subpoena includes a duces tecum request, the specific documents or tangible objects to be produced at the administrative hearing shall be listed in the request. Subpoena requests are to be filed with the Department of Education at least 10 days in advance of the requested date of compliance. 
  • Upon motion and for good cause, the hearing officer may order any subpoena be quashed.
  • Witnesses may not be subpoenaed to pre-hearing conferences. OAC 3301-73-13(A)-(G)

Certified records – a record with a stamp/seal from the issuing office.  The stamp/seal formally confirms the document to be true, accurate and genuine. A certified copy of a plea of guilty or a judicial finding of guilt is conclusive proof of the commission of all of the elements of the crime. OAC 3301-73-17.

Notarized document – when a document is notarized, it is marked with a stamp or seal by a notary public in order to authenticate the document.

Report and Recommendation (R&R) – Within 30 calendar days following the close of record of an administrative hearing, the hearing officer shall submit a written report setting forth a summary of the proceedings, proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, and a recommendation of the action to be taken by the SBOE. The original report shall be submitted to the Department of Education and the Department shall serve the parties. Respondent may file written objections within ten days of receipt of the hearing officer’s report and recommendation. Only those objections timely filed shall be considered by the SBOE. The SBOE shall consider the hearing officer’s report and recommendation and any objections filed at the next possible regularly scheduled meeting after the time for filing objections has passed. The SBOE may act upon the report and recommendation or remand the matter to the hearing officer. OAC 3301-73-20(A) - (E).

Final action  – an SBOE final disposition to an investigation, including, but not limited to: a letter of admonishment, suspension, revocation, or denial of a license. OAC 3301.73-03(H) SBOE will consider the following factors, as applicable and appropriate, when determining a final action: the nature and seriousness of the crime or conduct; the extent of a person’s past criminal activity or conduct; the age of the person when the crime or conduct was committed; the amount of time that has elapsed since the person’s last criminal activity or conduct; whether the person has completed the terms of probation or deferred adjudication; evidence of rehabilitation; and whether the person fully disclosed the crime or conduct to the SBOE and/or the employing school district. See OAC 3301-73-21(A) for a list of the factors which the SBOE considers when determining a final action under ORC 3319.31

Resolution - the SBOE reviews the hearing officer’s Report and Recommendation (along with any written objections) and adopts a resolution regarding disciplinary action pursuant to ORC 3319.31. The SBOE can approve, modify, or disapprove the hearing officer’s Report and Recommendation. The educator has the right to appeal the SBOE's disciplinary action by filing an appeal with the court of common pleas in his/her county of residence or in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. This written appeal must be filed with the appropriate court of common pleas within fifteen days of the SBOE’s resolution being mailed to the educator/pre-service educator.

Re-applying after disciplinary action – Unless otherwise specified in a prior SBOE resolution, a respondent may apply for a new license at any time. If a respondent requests to be licensed by the SBOE after any disciplinary action is taken by any professional licensing entity, respondent shall provide evidence that a change in circumstance exists that would permit a license. The superintendent will weigh the evidence submitted to establish a change in circumstance against the need of the SBOE to protect the integrity of the profession, and ensure the safety and welfare of the students and the school community. OAC 3301-73-24.

BCII/FBI background check – the "fingerprint" criminal records check that is completed in order to research the possibility of criminal arrests/convictions. The Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCII) is a division of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office which conducts criminal record checks on all applicants. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducts criminal record checks on all applicants who have not continuously lived in Ohio for the five years before submitting an application.

Investigation – OPC is responsible for investigating cases involving alleged professional misconduct and/or criminal convictions. OPC conducts it investigations pursuant to ORC 3319.311. Currently, the office’s investigators investigate cases involving criminal convictions. The office’s liaisons are licensed attorneys who investigate allegations of professional misconduct when the alleged professional misconduct has not resulted in a criminal conviction.

Mandatory report – ORC 2151.421 mandates that teachers, school employees and school officials report known or suspected child abuse and neglect to children services or a police officer. This report is confidential in civil court actions and the name of the reporting party cannot be released. The report is admissible in criminal proceedings. Reports can be made anonymously.

School district form – a form provided by OPC for school district personnel to report conduct unbecoming the teaching profession to the Department of Education.

OAC – Ohio Administrative Code

ORC – Ohio Revised Code

Confidentiality – all information that is learned by OPC throughout the entirety of the investigation will remain confidential. This information will only be known by OPC, the individual, and the source of the information. However, any disciplinary action that is taken pursuant to an investigation is not confidential. See also Public Records.

Falsification – reporting information to the Department of Education and/or OPC that is not true and meant to deceive the Department of Education or OPC from knowing and/or learning the truth. This includes an omission of fact as well as a statement that has no truth.

Expungement – a court-ordered judgment entry that is requested by the individual in order to seal the record of a criminal conviction. The Department of Education has statutory authority to ask questions about sealed and expunged records in order to determine whether the conviction bears a direct and substantial relationship to the teaching profession.ORC 3319.31 and 2953.33(B)

Last Modified: 4/21/2014 9:28:03 AM