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The Importance of License Verification in Teacher Hiring: A Risk Mitigation Strategy

Credential Sentry's Communication Team11/15/2022
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Teachers are one of the most important determinants of a student's success. Before employing them, it is crucial to ensure that they are appropriately licensed and credentialed. The verification of a teacher license should always be an integral part of any educational institution's risk management plan. By verifying a prospective teacher's credentials, institutions can ensure that they are hiring someone with the necessary knowledge and skills to provide a quality education.

The license verification procedure can also help to identify red flags or causes for concern that may exist in a prospective teacher’s history. Verification also helps to ensure that the educational institution provides role models who are appropriately qualified to be teaching its students.

The Threats Unlicensed Professionals Poses to Students and the Community

Every day, parents entrust their children to teachers, and assume that they are each qualified and capable of delivering a quality education. However, this is not always the case. It's possible that the professional histories and teaching licenses of the faculty members have not been thoroughly investigated in an effort to cut costs and save time, which puts the organization and its reputation at risk.

Because some states do not require applicants to provide documentation of a current teaching license or submit to background checks, it is possible that schools hire people whose licenses have been suspended or revoked.

Moreover, teachers may be licensed in another state, but not in the state where they are teaching. They may also lack adequate training in classroom management and dealing with disruptive students. Consequently, they may resort to inappropriate pedagogical methods or other ineffective disciplinary strategies that may cause more harm than good. Possible red flags upon discovery of an unlicensed or suspended former teacher may, in the extreme, source back to histories of violence or sexual misconduct.

In addition to the dangers they pose to students, teachers who have not been required to provide a valid teaching license and undergo a background check pose a threat to their colleagues and the community as a whole.

Former Teacher of the Year Fired for Threatening Co-Teachers and Students

Frank Fuzy, a former third-grade teacher at Tamaques School in Westfield, New Jersey was fired and had his teaching license suspended for calling his students “stupid” and threatening his co-teachers with guns.

Fuzy was named the New Jersey Agricultural Teacher of the Year in 2013, but the following year he was suspended for allegedly throwing notes at a student and hitting her in the face. After this incident, Fuzzy completed counseling for anger management.

The report says that he often told other employees that he has a lot of weapons and keeps a handgun in the glove compartment of his car. This made it sound like he would go to his car if he had to. Mr. Fuzy has said that he did not tell anyone that he had a gun in his car.

The school board also alleged that he had made numerous social media posts about firearms. In addition, the district claimed that Fuzy told his third-grade students: "What are you, stupid?", and caused them to cry.

As the preceding example demonstrates, educational institutions must conduct background checks.

And one of the most important aspects of such a check is to ensure that teachers possess a valid teaching license not only prior to hiring but also throughout their employment.

By doing so, schools and other institutions can protect their students and employees.

The Importance of the License Verification Process

Unlicensed teachers are a danger to schools because they generate liability for their institutions for any accidents or injuries that occur while they are in the classroom instructing students. In the situation involving Fuzy, the student who was injured by being hit with Post-It notes has the right to file a lawsuit against both Fuzy and the school. Such a lawsuit could result in both financial and reputational harm to the educational establishment.

Risk Mitigation Strategy for Schools

Hiring Process

Several factors should be considered as part of a school's strategy for mitigating risk.

  • First, all prospective candidates must submit to a thorough background check, which includes a professional license verification in states where it is required. This will aid in preventing the hiring of individuals with a history of misconduct.
  • Additionally, school districts should consider mandating that all applicants complete a professional development program on classroom management and appropriate student boundaries.

Throughout the Course of Their Employment

There are a variety of dangers that students are exposed to, ranging from concerns about their physical safety to the possibility of sexual misconduct. Schools have the ability to forestall the occurrence of further issues and establish an atmosphere that is secure for both the staff and the students if they put into practice risk reduction strategies.

There are several elements that should be included in a risk mitigation strategy for educational institutions:

  • First, there should be clear policies and procedures that govern the behavior of teachers. These should be reviewed regularly and updated as necessary.
  • Second, there should be regular training for teachers on how to prevent and respond to risks. This training should cover a range of topics, including physical safety, boundary setting, and reporting procedures.
  • If a license is required, it should be reviewed frequently to ensure that the employee has not been suspended during the course of his employment and that his credentials are always up to date. It is essential to verify that the license remains active at all times.
  • Finally, there should be systems in place for monitoring teacher conduct and responding to concerns. These systems should include both internal and external reporting strategies.

Schools are able to establish a more stable, safe and secure environment for both students and staff members when they put these precautions into effect. In the same vein, taking the necessary measures, such as verifying professional licenses, conducting background checks, and putting in place appropriate management systems in schools, can help to ensure that all members of the community are able to thrive.

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