Journal-Times: Under budget, teachers with revoked licenses could teach at charter schools

March 23, 2011- Wisconsin teachers with their licenses revoked for immoral conduct or incompetency could teach again under a provision in Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget.

Walker's budget would remove a requirement that teachers at independent charter schools be licensed by the state, instead requiring teachers at those schools have only a bachelor's degree of some kind. Such a switch would create a loophole where people with revoked teaching licenses could potentially end up back in the classroom, according to Department of Public Instruction spokesman Patrick Gasper.

Racine County's only independent charter school, 21st Century Preparatory School, 1220 Mound Ave., would not be impacted because the school's charter requires teachers have licenses, said school Superintendent Robert Morelan.

But new charter schools created in the county as well as some charter schools across the state could end up hiring teachers with revoked licenses under Walker's budget, according to DPI.

Teachers most commonly can have licenses revoked for incompetency – a pattern of inadequate performance or lacking the ability to do required job duties – and for immoral conduct, defined under state statute to include types of homicide, battery, sexual assault and kidnapping. If a teacher gets a license revoked, they generally can't teach again or get the license reinstated unless it's approved in a special hearing, according to DPI.

Teacher licensing keeps people with incompetent or immoral conduct histories out of the classroom. Background and criminal history checks required by existing state laws would likely catch some things if teachers with revoked licenses apply to independent charter schools but items could get missed, school officials said.


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