Legal Memorandum: Suspension of a Teaching Certificate in NJ

Issue: Under what grounds will the School Board suspend a teaching certificate for unbecoming conduct in New Jersey and to what degree is a teacher’s intent prior disciplinary record considered?

Area of Law: Administrative Law, Administrative Law & Regulation (Federal and State), Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Suspension of teaching certificate; Unbecoming conduct
Jurisdiction: New Jersey
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2013

In In Re the Certificate of Dunham, Dkt. No. 598-12/00 (Bd. Exam’rs June 14, 2001), the Board suspended Dunham’s teaching certificate for unbecoming conduct after he became intoxicated and left vulgar and inappropriate phone messages on the answering machines of two students.  Both the ALJ and the Commissioner found that Dunham had intentionally harassed the students as revenge against their father, who was dating Dunham’s ex-wife.  In an intoxicated state, Dunham directly and intentionally aimed his actions towards students as a vindictive act against their father. 

In In Re the Certificates of Molinaro, Dkt. No. 335-03-96-98 (Bd. Exam’rs, Oct. 9, 1997), the Board revoked the respondent’s teaching license after he made sexually explicit telephone calls to a stranger, pled guilty to criminal conduct and was generally chronically absent from his job.            

In Re the Certificates of Poston, EDU 03876-05 (OAL Aug. 15, 2006) demonstrates that when considering an appropriate penalty, a teacher’s lack of intent and exemplary prior disciplinary record, respectively, are important mitigating considerations. 

In Re the Certificates of Troublefield, Dkt. No. SB #21-06 (Bd. Educ. Jan. 3, 2007) dealt with Board allegations of inappropriate student discipline and instructions to students to physically strike other students.  After the Examiners revoked the teacher’s certificates, the Board of Education concluded that even if it was determined that the teacher engaged in such inappropriate behavior toward her students, revocation was too harsh of a penalty.

In Re the Certificates of Skerbetz, Dkt. No. 0405-316 […]

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