Last Updated: December 22, 2022. Report error / Make suggestion

Initial Application Requirements

  • Who/What Agency governs or oversees the profession?
    • The Washington Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB)
  • What are the background check requirements?
    • The initial application for certification requires (at your expense), a criminal history record check through the WSP criminal identification system and through the FBI. The record check also includes a fingerprint check using a complete Washington state criminal identification fingerprint card.
    • You will also be asked to fill out a character and fitness supplement which asks about your legal history and history of “serious behavioral problems” including the names of past health practitioners
    • If your application for certification is denied by the PESB, after exhausting any appeal procedures, you can apply directly to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the certificate or endorsement.
  • Are there any convictions that will automatically disqualify me?
    • You cannot have a conviction for any crime against children as listed in RCW 28A.400.322
    • You cannot have a conviction of any crime within the last 10 years (including motor vehicle violations) which would materially and substantially impair your worthiness and ability to serve as a professional in schools.
      • This determination is made on a case-by-case basis which takes into consideration the your age, overall criminal history, and classification of the criminal act, among other factors.
  • Do Certificates of Restoration of Opportunity (CROPs) apply to the position?
    • CROPS do not apply to the certification of teachers, but do apply to other positions within schools (e.g. bus driver, paraprofessional, etc.).

License Suspension/Revocation

  • What might my license be suspended or terminated?
    • Your certificate/permit may be revoked or suspended based upon a criminal records report authorized by law or upon complaint of the PESB or any other school district superintendent/private school administrator for:
      • Lack of good moral character or personal fitness
      • Violation of written contract
      • Unprofessional conduct
      • Intemperance
      • Crime against the law of the state
      • Fraudulent submission of a test for educators
      • Fraudulently obtaining certification.
        • Includes fraudulent misrepresentation of required academic credentials and prior criminal record
    • Your certificate must be suspended if you are not in compliance with a support order or a residential or visitation order.
    • Your certificate must be revoked upon a guilty plea or conviction of any felony crime specified as follows (RCW 28A.400.322):
      • Involving physical neglect of a child under RCW 9A.42
      • Causing physical injury or death of a child under RCW 9A.32/9A.36, except motor vehicle violations under RCW 46.61
      • Sexual exploitation of a child under RCW 9.68A
      • Sexual offense when victim is a minor under RCW 9A.44
      • Promoting prostitution of a minor under RCW 9A.64.030
      • Violation of laws in another jurisdiction that are similar to those listed above
    • Your certificate must be revoked upon a guilty plea or conviction for any of the following crimes/attempts/conspiracies/solicitations to commit any of the following:
      • Indecent exposure RCW 9A.88.010
      • Violation involving physical neglect RCW 9A.42
      • Homicide RCW 9A.32
      • Assault 1 & 2, assault of a child 1 &2, or any other felony violation of RCW 9A.36 involving physical injury (does not include assault 3 when victim is over 18 years old)
      • Sex offense RCW 9.94A.030
      • Kidnapping 1 & 2 RCW 9A.40.020/9A.40.030
      • Child selling or child buying RCW 9A.64.030
      • Promoting prostitution 1 RCW 9A.88.070
      • Robbery 1 RCW 9A.56.200
      • Violation of laws in another jurisdiction that are similar to those listed above
    • Finally, your certificate must be suspended or revoked upon a finding that you have engaged in an unauthorized use of school equipment to intentionally access material depicting sexually explicit content (not related to established curriculum).
  • How does the PESB learn of these grounds?
    • Based upon a criminal records report authorized by law
    • School district superintendents, educational service district superintendents, the PESB, or private school administrators may file a complaint concerning any certificated employee of a school district (including private schools). The complaint does not need to be regarding an employee of the complainant.
      • The written complaint needs to include the grounds and factual basis upon which the complainant believes an investigation should be initiated
    • A parent or any other person can file a written complaint with the superintendent of public instruction alleging physical abuse or sexual misconduct by a certificated school employee if:
      • The complainant has already filed a written complaint with the educational service district superintendent regarding the issue;
      • The educational service district superintendent did not initiate an investigation nor forward the complaint to the superintendent of public instruction for investigation; and
      • The written complaint includes grounds and factual basis upon which the complainant believes an investigation should be initiated.
    • A complaint from the PESB alleging unprofessional conduct in the form of a fraudulent submission of a test for educators

Hearing Process

  • *What does the hearing process look like?
    • Appeals are heard by the superintendent of public instruction and have two levels, one informal and one formal. The informal process must occur before moving on to the formal process.
      • Informal – You must file a written notice with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) within 30 days following the date of postmarked mailing or other notification (whichever is earlier).
        • If your appeal involves good moral character, personal fitness, or acts of unprofessional conduct: the reviewing officer schedules an informal meeting between you, the OSPI, and the admission and professional conduct advisory committee.
        • If your appeal does not involve good moral character, personal fitness, or acts of unprofessional conduct: the reviewing officer will review your appeal and may request further written information from the person who denied your application/suspended your certificate. The officer may schedule an informal meeting between you and any previously involved parties if they deem appropriate.
        • A written decision is mailed to you within 30 days from the filing of the appeal or informal meeting, whichever is later. However, timelines may be extended by the reviewing officer for cause.
      • FormalThis process is only available after exhausting the informal appeal process and consists of a review of the prior decision by the superintendent of public instruction.
        • You must file a written notice with the OSPI within 30 days following the date of post-marked mailing of the review officer’s written decision.
        • Either the superintendent of public instruction or an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) from the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) conducts a formal administrative hearing according to the rules set forth in the Administrative Procedure Act. RCW 34.05
          • The decision is sent to you via mail.
    • You cannot use the appeal process to seek reinstatement of a certificate if it has been revoked in the preceding 12 months by the superintendent of public instruction.
      • *The above process is different than the hearing process for appealing the termination or suspension of an employment contract, which is governed by RCW 28.405.310.
  • What do I have to prove at the hearing to succeed?
    • If your application for certification or reinstatement has been denied for lack of good moral character or personal fitness, you must prove by clear and convincing evidence that you are of good moral character and personal fitness.
    • In a suspension or revocation hearing, the opposite is true.  The superintendent of public instruction must prove by clear and convincing evidence that you are not of good moral character or personal fitness or have committed an act of unprofessional conduct.
  • Is there an appeals process if I don’t agree with the final order? If so, what does that look like?
    • Yes. The process is outlined by the Administrative Procedures Act RCW 34.05
      • First, you may file a petition for reconsideration of a final order. This can be done within 10 days of the service of the final order.
        • This is an administrative review of the previous ruling.  The hearing officer may decide to grant your petition, deny your petition, modify the previous order, or set the matter for a new hearing.
      • You can also petition the superior court for review. This must be done within 30 days of notice of the final order.
        • The petition must be filed with the Superior Court for either a.) Thurston County, or b.) the county where you live.  You must also pay a $250 filing fee.
        • You are not required to petition for reconsideration before seeking review in court.
      • However, if you do file a petition for reconsideration first, then the 30 day time limit for filing with the court does not begin to run until after the petition for reconsideration is resolved.
        • You cannot seek judicial review until you have exhausted all administrative remedies unless you fall into one of three exceptions. RCW 34.05.534.
        • When reviewing your case, the Court can only consider the evidence admitted and facts established during the first administrative hearing.
        • You can request that the Court stay your suspension while the judicial review is pending, but the Court will only grant a stay if it finds that 1.) you are likely to win your appeal, 2.) you will be irreparably harmed without a stay, 3.) the stay will not cause harm to the other party, and 4.) there is not a serious threat to public health or safety.
    • If you still disagree with the decision following review by the Superior Court, you can appeal to the Court of Appeals.
  • What is the range of sanctions?
    • Sanctions can range from a formal reprimand to permanent license revocation
  • Post hearing, what are the options for reinstatement?
    • If your certificate is revoked, you are not eligible to receive another certificate for a period of 12 months following revocation.
      • Exception: You will be permanently ineligible for reinstatement if the reason for revocation was based on a guilty plea or conviction of a felony crime against children under RCW 28A.400.322.

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