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What happens when educators are charged with DWI?

The principal of a Texas high school was recently charged with his second drunk driving offense since 2012. He could face, as anyone could, the typical legal penalties associated with DWI: jail time, court fines, the revocation of his license, etc.

But what makes the case worth discussing is the additional punishment he may face as a result of his profession. Though the principal's school district has declined to comment on whether he will face disciplinary action - privacy laws protect public school personnel in this regard - the Texas Education Agency makes clear that educators are typically subject to certain sanctions in the event of a DWI conviction.

What special punishments do teachers face?

The discipline of educators for misconduct is carried out by the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC). The SBEC is specifically tasked with addressing teachers, principals, and other school employees who are convicted for crimes or otherwise violate the State Board's Code of Ethics.

In the event of a DWI, a teacher's certification may be revoked, suspended, or canceled. Those are, of course, the worst-case scenarios. But lesser punishments can still have long-lasting effects. Offenders may be compelled to withdraw from specialized training programs, for example, or be issued a formal written reprimand that will appear on the educator's official certification documents - that is, a DWI can go on one's permanent record. It's easy to see how such actions may restrict future opportunities for promotion and other sorts of career growth.

Keeping Your Record Clean

The law and the school board are not lenient with offenders. This is likely because educators are, to a large extent, responsible for the upbringing of our state's children, and should serve as role models to students.

What will happen to the principal currently under fire remains unclear.

Many education professionals have found that one of the surest ways of addressing possible professional discipline and the other potential implications of DUI allegations is to work with an attorney. Having quality legal guidance could help educators with challenging drunk driving allegations and fighting to have charges reduced or dismissed.

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