School Law & Your Case
I’m a teacher in Houston ISD, Pasadena ISD, Spring ISD… What effect will my Harris County misdemeanor or felony arrest have on my job?
Each school district has its own policies and its own committee procedures for criminal history review but in general they all want to get their investigations over with quickly. You can find each board’s policies on their website under Board of Education.
If I am convicted of a felony in Harris County or in Texas will I be fired from my job as a teacher?
In HISD – yes – as well as for most other school districts.
If I’m convicted of an offense requiring registration as a sex offender will I be fired?
Will I be fired if I’m convicted or even just charged with a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude?
If convicted, yes. If charged you will probably be suspended with pay during an internal investigation (avg. 2 months in HISD) pending the final disposition of the charge.
What are crimes of moral turpitude?
Theft, forgery, indecent exposure, public lewdness and prostitution are the most common ones.
I’m an HISD teacher who has been charged with a crime in Harris County, Texas. What should I do?
Check your school board’s policies regarding your duties as to written notification of the charge (or the final disposition) to the board. Most school districts require notification in writing within a specified time period of up to 30 days.
The school board wants me to give a statement. Should I?
That depends on the facts of the case. In general, if they are favorable for you, you should consider submitting a written statement. If the facts are against you, you probably should not – although you will probably be fired for refusal to give a statement. This is not a decision that we can make for our clients, however.
What about my right to remain silent?
Remember – a school board is a governmental agency and it does not have to respect this right of yours when considering employment. If you choose not to give a statement, they can choose to fire you. Even if you ultimately give a statement, it is best to consult with a civil attorney first. (HLF would only represent you on the criminal side.) An attorney could try to limit their use of your statement by citing case law that affords you protection when you have been forced to waive your right to remain silent and give a statement.
Should I give a written statement or oral statement?
A written statement is always preferable to an oral one because the written statement contains Constitutional safeguards and protections that the oral one doesn’t.
What effect will deferred adjudication probation, have on my employment as an HISD teacher in Harris County, Texas?
While you are actually on deferred adjudication, you are not eligible for employment. If the deferred adjudication is successfully completed you may be eligible for hire or rehire. Certain felonies however would render you ineligible for hire (or rehire) even after successful completion of a deferred adjudication probation. Some of these are:
- Felony Theft
- Felony Offenses Involving a Child
- Felony Aggravated Assault or Robbery
- Felony Sex Crimes
- Felony Drug Offenses
If I’m charged with abusing or injuring a child, what can be done to defend me?
While the facts of every case are different we will want to subpoena the student records including the discipline file, attendance records and any pertinent school nurse records of the child complainant. We will also want to subpoena all files of the adult complainant -both the administration file and the campus or principal’s file.
If I’m requested to go before a criminal history review committee to explain the circumstances of my case, will I be allowed to take my criminal defense attorney with me?
Help! I have to go before the review committee; what advice do you have for me?
If you are guilty – they want to hear from you honestly, sincerely, and humbly that you committed the crime and that you have learned your lesson. If you try to explain it away, defend yourself or make excuses, you will not be hired or rehired.
Is a deferred a conviction?
Technically, under the law, no. However, governmental entities – including HISD and other Texas school districts – have policy stating that a deferred is a conviction for their purposes.
If I have filed a Petition for Non-Disclosure to seal my Harris County deferred adjudication, will HISD or other area school boards not be able to see it?
No. School boards and other government agencies are exempt from non-disclosure petitions. We our clients that a school district will find out about their deferred adjudication, even if sealed, and will most likely use it against them – esp. if a felony. However, sealing is still always advisable as it better displays your reform to the school board.