Small potatoes bribery scheme is costly to teacher

It’s not like the art teacher was going to get rich off this scheme.  But it did provide a little extra income.  Unfortunately, that little bit of extra cash turned out to be very costly. The teacher’s certificate was revoked.

The art teacher agreed to falsify community service hours for kids in exchange for a small fee--$1.00 per hour.  So if a student was ordered by the court to do ten hours of community service, the student could either do the ten hours, or pay the teacher $10.  The falsified documents were then turned into the court that had ordered the community service.

This went on for about a year, and involved about 30 students at two high schools in North Texas along with some of their parents. It all came apart on April 22, 2013, when a police officer and some school officials confronted the teacher.  The man promptly admitted the truth of the allegations and resigned. He had been a teacher at the high school for 13 years.  One month later, he was charged with the criminal offense of tampering with government records.  He eventually pled guilty and was given deferred adjudication with a fine, community service and community supervision.

By the time this matter reached the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) the facts were pretty straightforward.  The issue was whether or not the teacher’s certificate should be revoked.  The teacher did not dispute the charges. But he offered testimony from his sister, a minister, and two teachers along with affidavits from 10 other people, all of whom supported the man as a person of good moral character who had made a mistake.

The SOAH Administrative Law Judge recommended that the certificate be revoked and the SBEC approved that recommendation.  In part, this was based on a Conclusion of Law that “The offense of Tampering with a Government Record is a crime involving moral turpitude….because it involves improper conduct including dishonesty, fraud, or deceit.”  Furthermore, “The offense to which [the teacher] pleaded guilty is an offense directly related to the duties and responsibilities of the education profession.”

The case is Docket No. 701-15-5134.EC.  It’s sad to see a veteran teacher lose the certificate that he worked hard to obtain.  But this case is a good reminder about the Educator Code of Ethics and the standards to which educators are held accountable.