Who can the Office of Professional Practice (OPP) investigate?
Any person who has a current, valid Washington education certificate. This would include any employed or unemployed educator, teacher, principal, counselor, etc.
School district superintendents may or may not hold a certificate. Superintendent certification is not a requirement for the position.
How do investigations get started?
School district superintendents, educational service district superintendents, and private school administrators must file a letter of complaint to OSPI, alleging a violation of the Code of Professional Conduct.
What if the school district superintendent doesn’t respond to my complaint about a certificated educator?
If the complainant can’t achieve resolution of concerns at the local level, they can contact the Office of Education Ombudsman. As a final option, they can write a letter to the educational service district superintendent, citing the allegations and requesting an investigation.
Who does the investigation for OPP?
OSPI investigators review the allegations, gather the evidence (written, testimony, other documents), and present the case to the administrator for a decision on disposition.
Can an educator go and teach in another state if OPP has disciplined the educator?
If the disciplinary action is a reprimand (which does not invalidate the certificate), the educator can teach in or outside of Washington state. If the action does invalidate the certificate (suspension, revocation, voluntary surrender), then the educator cannot teach in Washington state. That information is shared with all states through a national database. The other states (where the educator may hold another certificate) will determine whether or not to take additional action.
What kinds of outcomes can OPP cases have?
- A dismissal indicates that no action has been taken.
- A reprimand leaves the certificate valid but does admonish the educator to not repeat the behavior or conduct.
- A suspension invalidates the certificate for a specified period of time and may have some requirements for reinstatement.
- A revocation, in essence, takes the certificate away. If the educator wishes to be reinstated, the burden of proof of good moral character/personal fitness is upon him/her to show why the certificate should be reinstated.
- An educator may surrender his/her certificate at any time to OPP by filling out the Voluntary Surrender Form.
What are the educator’s appeal rights?
If disciplinary action is proposed, an educator can appeal to OSPI’s Informal Review Committee (comprised of nine educators—3 teachers, 3 administrators, and 3 ESAs). Further appeal can be made to an Administrative Law Judge, with specific discipline warranting additional appeal to Superior Court.
Who can find out if there’s been any kind of an investigation about an educator?
OPP files are available through a Public Disclosure request.
How long does discipline action stay on an educator’s record?
Disciplinary action always remains on an educator’s record. While the action itself may come to an end, the action cannot be expunged from the record.