Legal Memorandum: Revocation of a Teaching Certificate in NJ

Issue: Can the failure to appreciate the line between personal and professional relationships warrants a revocation of a teaching certificate?

Area of Law: Administrative Law, Administrative Law & Regulation (Federal and State), Ethics & Professional Responsibility
Keywords: Revocation of a teaching certificate; Teacher's relationship; Personal and professional relationships
Jurisdiction: New Jersey
Cited Cases: 90 N.J. 550
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2013

While such an action turns on the correctness of the factual findings, revocation of a teaching certificate for an indisputable mistaken belief in a teacher’s relationship with his or her colleagues was seen as grossly disproportionate and patently “shocking to one’s sense of fairness” in In Re Polk, 90 N.J. 550, 578 (1982). 

The failure to appreciate the line between personal and professional relationships has warranted far less severe punishment in other cases.  In In Re the Certificate of Zantow, Dkt. No. EDE 459-07 (OAL Apr. 14, 2008), a teacher resigned when faced with tenure charges, only to have his conduct considered by the Board for revocation.  There, the teacher used inappropriate sexually suggestive and homosexual language on several occasions to his students in class.  Rather than revoke the teacher’s certificates, the OAL imposed a lesser suspension, ruling:

The line between teacher and friend should be rigorously enforced.  Zantow crossed that line by engaging in banter that had a sexual connotation.  It is acknowledged that he was a proficient teacher.  But his lack of judgment, reflected in the comments to all four students, justifies disciplinary action.

Additionally, in In Re the Certificates of Mangan, Dkt. No. EDE 6992-02 (OAL Nov. 4, 2005), a teacher received a two-year suspension for

crossing multiple lines of propriety when he cursed in class, made ethnic jokes and flirted with and touched female students.  The conduct is significantly aggravated by the fact that respondent […]


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