TREND Winter 2017/2018 - Page 42

Protecting Our Students, Preser by Allison Chancey, Member of the State Board of Education’s 3rd Congressio As teachers, we have been entrusted with the high responsibility of caring for and educating the next generation. We approach teaching with the seriousness it deserves. We dedicate our free time, our own resources, our energy - and for many of us, our entire lives - to serving and caring for our students. Because of this incredible trust and responsibility, a teacher’s integrity both inside and outside the classroom is paramount. First, because the safety of students entrusted to our care is our utmost priority. Second, because we know the decisions we make set a model for our students. We knew this when we entered the profession, and so we submit to a high code of ethics for the protection of our students. These rules and regulations protect educators when we know and understand what is required, and when disciplinary action is clear, fair, and in the interest of student safety. Too often in the past, teacher licensure cases landed in a gray area, making disciplinary decisions more challenging. This came to a head in our state in 2015 when the Davidson County Chancery Court issued a ruling that restricted the State Board of Education’s ability to deny reinstatement of an educator after his charge of statutory rape was expunged. The ruling further invalidated the Board’s use of the “other good cause” category as a basis for disciplinary action except for in a few limited circumstances, which created a loophole for some educators to challenge proposed licensure actions even All of this is not to infringe on the in cases of clear misconduct. righ teacher, but to promote safety and s within Tennessee’s classrooms and u the standards of the teaching profess The loophole threatened the health, safety and welfare of students and prompted the Board to revise its educator licensure rule. We proposed a revised educator licensure rule, which was filed with the Secretary of State and approved by the Joint Government Operations Committee with an effective date of July 2017. However, approximately 10 days prior to the effective date, a rulemaking hearing was requested, which restarted the promulgation process and delayed the effective date of the rule by at least 142 days. The rulemaking hearing was held on September 19, 2017 and public comments and feedback were received and taken into consideration for further revisions of what will be the permanent educator discipline rule. The permanent rule will take effect March 5, 2018, pending approval from the Joint Government Operations Committee.