so my sponser who helped me a great deal,for 3 years driving me to aa meetings and just being a good freind, went back out and just got his 3rd dwi (which was aggravated as he was 2 1/2 times the limit. He is a tenured teacher here in suffolk county. I wonder if he will lose his teaching certificate? Tax Agent ....?
There is no way to tell on this limited information whether he would lose his teaching certificate. What I can tell you is that it is possible he’d lose it but it's also not automatic that he’d lose it. What NY law provides is that any criminal conviction of a licensed teacher is to be referred to the NY Education Department to determine if that conviction renders the teacher morally unqualified to be licensed.
I won't describe the entire process in detail here, but will note that that the professional conduct officer will order an investigation of the matter which will result in a recommendation regarding whether “a substantial question exists as to the moral character” of the teacher. If the state board agrees that there is a question regarding the moral character of the teacher (which essentially means grounds for taking action against the teacher) the teacher will be informed of that finding, what action is proposed, and given the opportunity to request a hearing on the matter. The teacher may be represented at the hearing by counsel. The hearing officer (or panel, depending on the hearing) will take evidence from the Department and the teacher at the hearing. The record of the conviction is admissible in the hearing, but the rules expressly state that “such conviction shall not in and of itself create a conclusive
presumption that the person so convicted lacks good moral character.” There are four types of crimes, however, that do raise a rebuttable preumption that the teacher lacks good moral character:
“(1) the criminal sale, possession or use of marijuana, a controlled substance, a precursor of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia as defined in article 220 or 221 of the Penal Law; or
(2) any crime involving physical or sexual abuse of a minor or student; or
(3) any crime committed either on school property or while in the performance of teaching duties.
(4) any crime committed involving the submission of false information, or the commission of fraud, related to a criminal history record check.”
NY Education Department Regulation 83.4.
Apart from those four situations, there is no presumption one way or the other. In order to revoke the license, the hearing officer/panel must conclude that:
“(1) there is a direct relationship between one or more of the previous criminal offenses and the specific license or employment sought or held by the individual; or
(2) the issuance or continuation of the license or the granting or continuation of the employment would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.”
NY Corrections Law (COR) § 752.
In reaching that determination, there are a number of factors the hearing officer/panel must consider:
“1. In making a determination pursuant to section seven hundred fifty-two of this chapter, the public agency or private employer shall consider the following factors:
(a) The public policy of this state, as expressed in this act, to encourage the licensure and employment of persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses.
(b) The specific duties and responsibilities necessarily related to the license or employment sought.
(c) The bearing, if any, the criminal offense or offenses for which the person was previously convicted will have on his fitness or ability to perform one or more such duties or responsibilities.
(d) The time which has elapsed since the occurrence of the criminal offense or offenses.
(e) The age of the person at the time of occurrence of the criminal offense or offenses.
(f ) The seriousness of the offense or offenses.
(g) Any information produced by the person, or produced on his behalf, in regard to his rehabilitation and good conduct.
(h) The legitimate interest of the public agency or private employer in protecting property, and the safety and welfare of specific individuals or the general public.
2. In making a determination pursuant to section seven hundred fifty-two of this chapter, the public agency or private employer shall also give consideration to a certificate of relief from disabilities or a certificate of good conduct issued to the applicant, which certificate shall create a presumption of rehabilitation in regard to the offense or offenses specified therein.”
COR § 753. So, all the details of the DWI conviction would matter. Simply being convicted of a DWI by itself would not cause the loss of license, but the specific circumstances of the crime could result in loss of the license. For example, if the DWI occurred on school property or while transporting a student, that would pretty much guarantee loss of the license for obvious reasons.
Once the hearing officer/panel makes its decision, further appeal may be had to the Commissioner of the Education Department who makes the final decision on whether to revoke the license. From there, if the teacher has sufficient grounds, the matter could be litigated in court. In court the teacher would need to show that proper due process was not given, that the hearing rules were violated in some way, that the commissioner abused her discretion, etc. The judge cannot overrule the Commissioner simply because the judge would have decided the matter differently than the Commissioner did.
I would venture to say that most DWIs by teachers do not result in loss of their teaching certificates. But in some cases that certainly could happen. The devil is, as they say, in the details. Even if they don't lose their certificates, though, some other sanction like a reprimand or fine could result.