After a fresh overnight look at the language of Senate Bill #234, the legislation passed unanimously in the Delaware Senate. The bill gives the Delaware Secretary of Education the authority to immediately suspend a teacher’s license in the event of an arrest for certain crimes against a child.
The bill was released from the Senate Education Committee yesterday. It was placed on the agenda for the Senate later that afternoon. During discussion of the bill, Senator Anthony DelCollo wanted some clarification on the legalese in the bill. Senator Bryan Townsend laid the bill on the table to take a second look at the language of the bill but it cleared that hurdle because no amendment was placed with the bill and went to a full Senate Vote. Today, 18 Delaware Senators voted yes on SB 234. Three were absent.
Senate Bill #234 will go to the House Education Committee. I anticipate this being placed on the agenda for next Wednesday.
Currently, the ability of the Department to take licensure action (i.e., suspension, revocation, limitation) is, in certain cases, contingent upon the public school employer first taking employment action (i.e., dismissal, termination). The Department believes that its ability, as the agency issuing professional teaching credentials to educators, to undertake licensure action should be separate from any action by the public school employer. Further, the Department seeks to expand the circumstances in which the Secretary may automatically suspend teaching credentials, specifically to include situations involving felony crimes against a children or where there is a clear and immediate danger to student safety or welfare. This bill removes the requirement of employment action before disciplinable offenses may be handled by the Department, making this licensure disciplinary structure consistent with how other licensed professions are handled in this State. The bill also creates the power to impose temporary emergency suspensions in those rare instances where a teacher poses a threat to student health, safety, or welfare. Finally, this bill creates the confidential letter of concern that is non-disciplinary and may be used in those instances where a teacher’s behavior is not in violation of the code, but indicative of a practice that is a matter of concern. These two provisions also make teacher licensure discipline more similar to other licensed professions in the State.