Teaching certificates seldom revoked Only 8 suspended for misconduct

October 27, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer Staff writer Carol L. Bowers contributed to this article.

Only eight Maryland teachers ever have lost their teaching certificates due to misconduct, though many more have quit or been fired for offenses such as child abuse. Now, a state task force wants to keep some of those teachers from working in a classroom again.

The panel has proposed that the state Board of Education broaden the state's powers to suspend and revoke teaching certificates. The board is to discuss the recommendation today.

"Our concern was what about the ones who don't go on 'Geraldo!' " said Robert L. Moore, an organizational specialist with the Maryland State Teachers Association who served on the Revocation and Suspension Committee.

He was referring to an appearance on the syndicated television talk show by Anne Arundel County high school teacher Ronald W. Price. Shortly after his arrest in April on charges of having sex with a female student, Price appeared on "Geraldo!," said he had sex with six or seven students, and provided some detail on the relationships. Price was sentenced this month to 26 years in prison after he was convicted of having sex with three students.

Most teachers accused of misconduct leave quietly with negotiated resignations that skirt the reason for their departure and leave their certificates intact. With a valid teaching certificate and no criminal conviction, that teacher could be hired by an unsuspecting school system. The task force hopes to eliminate that possibility.

State education officials would not discuss details of the proposal, and said some specifics still were being worked on yesterday.

Under regulations adopted in 1989, the state can revoke a teaching certificate only after a teacher is convicted of a serious crime, such as child abuse or neglect, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and sexual abuse of a child.

In drug cases, a judge rules on whether to revoke the teaching certificate. No judge has revoked a teacher's license, according to documents obtained from the State Department of Education under the Freedom of Information Act.

Michael E. Hickey, Howard County school superintendent, was stymied last year when he tried to revoke the certificate of a teacher he was about to fire for having sex with a student, according to a letter obtained by The Baltimore Sun. County prosecutors, faced with 9-year-old allegations, never pressed a case against the teacher, and without a conviction, Dr. Hickey could not have the certificate revoked.

The state education department has revoked the certificates of four teachers in Montgomery county and one each in Howard, Frederick, Calvert and Cecil counties, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Meanwhile, Anne Arundel school officials have moved to suspend Price's certificate.

But not all school districts try to revoke the certificates of teachers convicted of crimes. Frederick Kaiss Jr. pleaded guilty in March in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to assault and battery on one of his students at the Center for Applied Technology North in Severn. He had accosted her, made sexual advances and offered her money and an "A" in exchange for sexual favors. Anne Arundel school officials never sought to have his certificate revoked.

C. Berry Carter II, the superintendent who resigned last night, effective Nov. 1, and P. Tyson Bennett, the school board's lawyer, said they could not remember the case. Mr. Carter, who had been on administrative leave for allegedly failing to report suspected child abuse cases while he was deputy superintendent, resigned during a board meeting.

"We didn't pursue probably for the same reason the other 23 counties don't pursue revocation," Mr. Bennett said. "It's generally considered throughout the state that once a person is fired, retires or resigns and the file reflects what the basis for leaving was, that person will not get a job in education anywhere."

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