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Court upholds 2-year suspension of teacher’s license

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An administrative law judge in the Indiana Department of Education correctly imposed a two-year suspension of a special education teacher’s license, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. The court found no error in the ALJ’s reliance on a California case when considering whether to revoke or suspend a teaching license.

In 2010, Dr. Tony Bennett, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, recommended that Patricia Terkosky’s license been revoked based on immorality and misconduct in office. The move stems from three reported incidents in Terkosky’s Worthington Elementary School classroom in 2008 and 2010. In 2008, Terkosky reportedly made a student stand between an easel and the chalkboard and struck the easel with a yardstick. In 2010, Terkosky reportedly grabbed a student by the arm and forced her to sit down, which led to redness and bruising on an arm. Terkosky also reportedly “popped” a student who suffered from Pica in the mouth for eating an eraser. Terkosky claimed she was trying to get the eraser out of the mouth so the student wouldn’t choke.

Instead of revoking her license for three years as Bennett sought, the ALJ imposed a two-year suspension. The ALJ noted that there is no Indiana caselaw defining “what constitutes immorality or misconduct for the purposes of license revocation,” so the judge turned to the California Supreme Court decision of Morrison v. State Bd. of Educ., 461 P.2d 375 (Cal. 1969), to come to the decision to suspend her license.

Terkosky argued that the trial court erred in concluding the ALJ possessed authority to impose a sanction different than what Bennett recommended and in finding that the ALJ’s order complied with I.C. 20-28-5-7.

“Section 7 provides that ‘[o]n the written recommendation of the state superintendent, the department may suspend or revoke a license . . . .’ Our interpretation of this clause is the same as that of the IDOE: Section 7 assigns to the Superintendent the role of initiating proceedings against a teaching license, and it assigns to the IDOE the role of determining the action to take against the license,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote in Patricia Terkosky v. Indiana Department of Education, 49A02-1212-PL-1000.

“[Terkosky] maintains that ‘[i]nstead of conducting a factor analysis under Morrison, the ALJ should have examined Indiana law as it relates to the meaning of the terms “immorality” and “misconduct in office” in the license revocation context. We cannot say that the ALJ’s reference to Morrison was improper,” she continued. “… the only substantive difference between the Morrison factors and those listed in 515 Ind. Admin. Code § 9-1-18(h) is that, in place of the seventh factor in the Indiana Administrative Code, evidence of rehabilitation, the test in Morrison contains a factor to examine the praiseworthiness or blameworthiness of the motives resulting in the conduct.”

Terkosky’s acts, when viewed together, were found to have offended generally accepted standards of conduct of teachers and constituted misconduct in office, the judges held. The two-year suspension was not contrary to law.
 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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