Monday, May 10, 2010

Broney v. Calif. Comm. on Teacher Credentialing (Cal. Ct. App. - May 6, 2010)

Does three DUI's justify revoking a teacher's license?

What if the teacher is, by all accounts, really, really good? And the DUIs are in 1987, 1997 and 2001? And are all on the weekend, with no evidence -- whatsoever -- that she ever, ever drinks on the job or is hungover or the like.

I'm conflicted. On the one hand, multiple DUIs are incredibly bad. It shows a real lack of judgment. Huge. Especially when at your last DUI you're blowing a .25.

On the other hand, you've been punished for that. And by all accounts, this hasn't affected your work in the slightest. Plus it seems like you've learned from all of this, and at least say all of the right things -- about how you'll never do this again, etc. (Of course, I hope you'd have said the same things after the first, or at least the second, time as well. But maybe this time you really, really mean it.)

So I'm torn. As are other people, apparently, as the lower tribunals go this way and that. Some saying it's a permissible basis for revoking a credential and some saying it's not.

In the end, the Court of Appeal holds that you can discipline the teacher. Even for totally off-campus DUIs.

There's a part of me that's okay with that holding for totally and admittedly illegitimate reasons; namely, that the actual discipline imposed here is not all that bad, and may be in everyone's best interest. They didn't actually revoke her credentials, but rather suspended them for 60 days, a suspension stayed subject to her successful completion of a three-year probationary period in which she seeks therapy, etc. Which I have no doubt that she can successfully do, and would probably be beneficial. Is it a hassle? Sure. But probably less of a hassle than a fourth DUI.

So the teacher here loses the appeal. Which, ironically, results in a published decision that reveals her name (Shirley Broney) and convictions even though heretofore only two people at the school -- a fellow teacher and the principal -- knew about 'em. But now they're out there for everyone.

Let's hope that Ms. Broney gets it together. She sounds like a very good teacher. Just one who needs to keep it a little more under control when she goes out with her friends on the weekend.