(UPDATED, Dec. 17, with additional information about total educator counts and the ethics reporting process.)
Over two dozen public K-12 educators were professionally disciplined in Idaho for ethics violations last school year, and about half of the cases focused on inappropriate or sexual conduct with students.
That’s according to a draft annual report obtained by Idaho EdNews through a public records request from the State Department of Education’s Professional Standards Commission. The 18-member commission is comprised of K-12 educators, school administrators, higher education representatives and state officials. The group enforces Idaho rules and standards for K-12 teachers and administrators through several means, from letters of reprimand to stripping educators of their licenses.
Across Idaho, more than 20,000 certified educators were employed last school year, said State Department of Education spokesperson Kristin Rodine. That means the alleged ethics violations are incredibly rare — at 0.001% of all educators.
The commission closed 36 cases and disciplined educators in 25 cases in 2020-21, the report found. Here’s a breakdown, by case type:
- Inappropriate conduct with a student: 10 cases.
- Sexual misconduct with a student: two cases.
- Contract breaches: three cases.
- Educators who committed felonies: three cases.
- Substance abuse: two cases.
- Inappropriate conduct: two cases.
- Theft and fraud: two cases.
- “Miscellaneous”: one case.
Thirteen of the educators disciplined received letters of reprimand. The commission suspended six licenses and revoked six others, two of which were permanent revocations.
The latest figures fall in line with those from 2018-19, when the commission disciplined 25 of Idaho’s more than 20,000 licensed public K-12 educators. Sexual or inappropriate conduct with students accounted for four closed cases that school year.
The latest count is higher than it was in 2019-20, when 16 cases resulted in disciplinary action and 26 cases were closed. That year, five closed cases dealt with inappropriate or sexual conduct with students.
No educator last year voluntarily surrendered their licenses in an ethics case.
A recent reporting change allows anyone to file complaints against certificated employees, said Bethani Studebaker, director of Certification and Professional Standards at the State Department of Education. She said that may elevate the number of alleged ethical violations.
The commission last met earlier this month to revoke two licenses. Its next planned meeting is set for Feb. 3 and 4.