ARIZONA STATE SENATE
Fifty-Fifth Legislature, First Regular Session
schools; employees; employment; discipline
Subjects a noncertificated person at a school district or charter school to disciplinary action for immoral or unprofessional conduct. Prohibits a school district or charter school from hiring a noncertificated person who is convicted of specified crimes.
The State Board of Education (SBE) oversees teacher certification and issues teaching certificates. An applicant in good standing with a valid fingerprint clearance card and a valid teaching certificate from another state is eligible for a comparable standard certificate in Arizona. An in-state applicant for a standard teaching certificate may complete the required training through an alternative teacher and administrator preparation program, coursework and experience or professional experience. In addition to standard teaching certificates, SBE also oversees substitute, career and technical education, in addition to science, technology, engineering and mathematics and classroom-based teaching certificates (A.R.S. §§ 15-501.01; 15-553; and 15-782.01).
A teacher is prohibited from being employed at a school district without a valid teaching certificate (A.R.S. § 15-502). A charter school is prohibited from employing a teacher whose certificate has been surrendered or revoked, unless the teacher’s certificate has been reinstated by SBE (A.R.S. § 15-183). If there is a finding of immoral or unprofessional conduct, statute directs SBE to impose disciplinary action for a certificated person including issuing a letter of censure, suspension, suspension with conditions or revocation of a certificate (A.R.S. § 15-203). Additionally, SBE is required to adopt procedures for the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) to investigate every written complaint that alleges a certificated person engaged in immoral conduct.
School districts and charter schools can also hire noncertificated personnel who are currently not subject to state disciplinary action for positions including noncertificated teachers, student teachers and coaches. SBE estimates there are at least 5,000 noncertificated teachers working in Arizona public schools.
Noncertificated personnel hired after January 1, 1990, are subject to fingerprint requirements by school districts including unpaid district employees and those who are not a parent or guardian of a pupil attending a district school, but provide services directly to pupils without the supervision of a certificated employee (A.R.S. § 15-512). Charter schools require all persons directly or indirectly engaged in instructional work to have a valid fingerprint clearance card, unless the person is a volunteer or guest speaker who is accompanied in the classroom by a person with a valid fingerprint clearance card (A.R.S. § 15-183).
Administrative hearings for appealable agency actions and contested cases are conducted by an administrative law judge for every state agency, unless expressly exempted. SBE is exempt from this requirement, but only in connection with contested cases and appealable agency actions relating to applications for issuance or renewal of a certificate and discipline of certificate holders (A.R.S. § 41-1092.02).
There is no anticipated fiscal impact to the state General Fund associated with this legislation.
Investigations and Procedures
1. Requires ADE to investigate written complaints that allege immoral or unprofessional conduct by a noncertificated person.
2. Allows SBE to:
a) review a complaint and determine whether to take disciplinary action against a noncertificated person, including prohibiting employment for up to five years at a school district or charter school, except as otherwise prescribed; and
b) dispose of any complaint requesting disciplinary action against a noncertificated person, after SBE has imposed disciplinary action.
3. Requires SBE to permanently prohibit, from employment at a school district or charter school, a noncertificated person convicted of:
a) a dangerous crime against children;
b) sexual abuse or sexual assault with a minor victim;
c) sexual conduct with a minor;
d) an act committed in another state or territory, that if committed in Arizona, would have been one of the specified crimes; or
e) a preparatory offense of the outlined crimes or any crime requiring a person to register as a sex offender.
4. Directs SBE to adopt rules and procedures for disciplinary action against noncertificated persons that are substantially similar to the disciplinary rules and procedures for certificated persons.
5. Allows ADE to provide investigative information, records or reports about a certificated or noncertificated person to:
a) any school or district that currently employs the noncertificated person;
b) any school or district the certificated or noncertificated person has applied for employment;
c) any third-party entity, to which the person has applied for employment, that contracts with a school or district to provide educators;
d) any agency that received a certification or licensure application from the certificated or noncertificated person, or that is investigating the person to make a certification or licensure decision; and
e) an out-of-state education agency, or the equivalent, in which a person holds a certificate or is applying for a certificate.
School Districts and Charter Schools
6. Requires each school district and charter school to:
a) conduct a search of the Educator Information System before employing a certificated or noncertificated person; and
b) submit an annual list to ADE of certificated and noncertificated persons who are employed at the school district or charter school.
7. Requires ADE to provide guidance to school districts and charter schools regarding the annual list.
8. Prohibits a school district or charter school from employing the following persons in a position that requires a valid fingerprint clearance card:
a) a certificated person whose certificate has been suspended, surrendered or revoked, unless their certificate is reinstated by SBE; or
b) a noncertificated person who has been prohibited from employment at a school district or charter school by SBE.
9. Requires a noncertificated person who reasonably suspects or receives a reasonable allegation that a certificated or noncertificated person engaged in conduct involving minors to report in writing to ADE as soon as practicable, but not later than three business days after the first suspicion or allegation.
10. Requires a school district superintendent or the chief administrator of a charter school, who reasonably suspects or receives a reasonable allegation that a noncertificated person engaged in immoral or unprofessional conduct that constitutes grounds for dismissal or criminal charges, to report the conduct to ADE.
11. Deems a person who reports or provides information in good faith, regarding the immoral or unprofessional conduct of a noncertificated person, is immune from civil damages.
12. Stipulates a noncertificated person's failure to report required information constitutes grounds for disciplinary action by SBE.
13. Prohibits a governing board or school district employee, who has control over personnel decisions and reasonably suspects or receives a reasonable allegation that a noncertificated person engaged in conduct involving minors that would be subject to reporting requirements, from accepting the noncertificated person's resignation until the suspicions or allegations are reported to SBE.
14. Deems a final adjudication or judgement, that a noncertificated person engaged in immoral or unprofessional conduct in another jurisdiction, as immoral or unprofessional conduct for any disciplinary proceeding against that person in Arizona.
15. Allows an SBE hearing officer, in addition to an existing advisory committee, to conduct hearings and screenings to determine:
a) disciplinary action against a certificated person;
b) reinstatement of a revoked or surrendered certificate;
c) approval or denial of an initial application for certification or renewal; or
d) whether to impose or lift disciplinary action against a noncertificated person.
16. Exempts SBE from administrative hearings for disciplining noncertificated persons.
17. Defines a noncertificated person as:
a) a school district or charter school employee who both:
i. does not possess a certificate issued pursuant to SBE rules; and
ii. is required or allowed to provide services directly to pupils without the supervision of a certificated employee; and
b) does not include a person without a certificate and who is one of the following at a school district or charter school:
i. a transportation employee;
ii. a food service employee or contractor;
iii. a maintenance worker; or
iv. an employee or contractor of the school district or charter school who is not required to possess a valid fingerprint clearance card.
18. Defines supervised as under the direction of and, except for brief periods of time during a school day or school activity, within sight of a certificated employee when providing direct services to pupils.
19. Makes technical and conforming changes.
20. Becomes effective on the general effective date.
House Action Senate Action
ED 1/12/21 DP 10-0-0-0 ED 1/12/21 DP 7-0-1
3rd Read 1/28/21 58-0-2 3rd Read 1/28/21 29-0-1
(H.B. 2023 was substituted for S.B. 1061on 3rd Read)
Signed by the Governor 2/5/21
Prepared by Senate Research
February 18, 2021