The Vermont Statutes Online
§ 1691. Purpose
The purpose of this chapter is to establish a board of professional educators to oversee the training, licensing, and professional standards of teachers and administrators and to establish hearing panels to determine compliance with those standards to help ensure high caliber professionals and high quality public educational programs for Vermont students. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007.)
§ 1691. Repealed. 1969, No. 298 (Adj. Sess.), § 79.
§ 1691a. Definitions
As used in this chapter:
(1) "Administrator" means an individual licensed under this chapter the majority of whose employed time in a public school, school district, or supervisory union is assigned to developing and managing school curriculum, evaluating and disciplining personnel, or supervising and managing a public school system or public school program.
(2) "Applicant" means an individual applying for a license.
(3) "Educator" means any teacher or administrator requiring a license under this chapter.
(4) "Endorsement" means the grade level and field in which an educator is authorized to serve. A license shall bear one or more endorsements.
(5) "Hearing panel" means the persons assigned in individual cases to find facts, reach conclusions of law, and make decisions regarding compliance with standards for obtaining, retaining, and renewing licenses.
(6) "License" means a license to engage in teaching or school administration, as the context requires, in the State and includes, unless the context requires otherwise, the endorsements the licensee has applied for or possesses. "Licensee" means an individual licensed under this chapter.
(7) "Licensing action" means action that suspends, revokes, limits, or conditions licensure or certification in any way and includes warnings, reprimands, probation, and administrative penalties.
(8) "Office" means the office within the Agency responsible for professional standards and educator licensing.
(9) "Standards Board" means the Vermont Standards Board for Professional Educators established under section 1693 of this title.
(10) "Teacher" means an individual licensed under this chapter the majority of whose employed time in a public school district or supervisory union is assigned to furnish to students direct instructional or other educational services, as defined by rule of the Standards Board, or who is otherwise subject to licensing as determined by the Standards Board. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 160, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
§ 1692. Requirement as to license
Except for a substitute teacher in accordance with rules adopted by the Standards Board, a person shall not be employed as a teacher or administrator in a public school without having a license then in force. (Amended 1989, No. 118, § 3; 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007.)
§ 1692. Repealed. 2005, No. 214, § 13(d).
§§ 1693, 1694. Repealed. 1977, No. 33, § 6.
§ 1693. Standards Board for Professional Educators
(a) Board creation. There is hereby established the Vermont Standards Board for Professional Educators comprising 13 members as follows: seven teachers; two administrators, one of whom shall be a school superintendent; one public member; one school board member; one representative of educator preparation programs from a public institution of higher education; and one representative of educator preparation programs from a private institution of higher education.
(b) Appointment and qualifications. All members of the Standards Board shall be appointed by the Governor for terms of three years, which shall begin July 1 of the year of appointment. Prior to appointing a member, the Governor shall consult with the State Board of Education and, as appropriate, the Vermont National Education Association, the Vermont School Boards Association, the Vermont Principals Association, the Vermont Superintendents Association, the Vermont State Colleges, the University of Vermont, and the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges. No person shall be eligible for more than one sequential reappointment. The Governor shall appoint a replacement to fill any vacancy on the Standards Board for the remainder of the term. The Governor shall ensure appointments are consistent with the following requirements:
(1) Each member of the Standards Board shall be a citizen of the United States and a resident of Vermont.
(2) The educator members shall be generally representative of elementary and secondary schools and of programs of study taught in Vermont public schools and of administrative positions in Vermont public schools. Teacher members shall hold a license and have at least five years' experience in public school teaching, at least three of which shall have been within the five years preceding appointment. Administrator members shall hold a license and be endorsed as an administrator and have at least five years' experience in public school administration, at least three of which shall have been within the five years preceding appointment.
(3) The school board member shall be a current school district board member or have served on a school district board at some period during the three years prior to appointment.
(4) The public member shall not be a member of the State Board of Education or an employee of any school and shall not derive primary livelihood in the field of public or independent education at any level of responsibility.
(c) Standards Board officers; meetings. The Standards Board shall elect from its members a chair, vice chair, and secretary who shall serve for one year and until their successors are elected and seated. The Board shall meet at the request of the Chair or at such other times and places as the Board may determine. Seven members of the Board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
(d) Compensation. The Agency shall compensate Standards Board members for the performance of their duties and reimburse them for their actual and necessary expenses in accordance with 32 V.S.A. § 1010.
(e) Administration. The Standards Board shall be attached for administrative purposes to the office. With respect to the Standards Board, the Secretary shall:
(1) With the advice of the Standards Board, employ a director, prepare an annual budget, and administer money appropriated to the Standards Board by the General Assembly. The budget of the Standards Board shall be part of the budget of the Agency.
(2) Employ administrative staff of the office.
(3) Incur such other expenses as the Secretary determines are necessary.
(4) Act as custodian of the records of the Standards.
(5) Annually, conduct a training for members of the Standards Board and the hearing panels established in this chapter, which shall include workshops regarding the powers and duties of the Standards Board and the panels and an opportunity for the Standards Board and hearing panel members to discuss the practical application of standards in quasi-judicial proceedings. (Amended 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 161, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2017, No. 49, § 40, eff. May 23, 2017; 2021, No. 20, § 62.)
§ 1694. Powers and duties of the Standards Board for Professional Educators
In addition to any other powers and duties prescribed by law or incidental or necessary to the exercise of such lawful powers and duties, the Standards Board shall:
(1)(A) Adopt rules pursuant to 3 V.S.A. chapter 25 with respect to the licensing of teachers and administrators, and of speech-language pathologists and audiologists as provided in 26 V.S.A. chapter 87.
(B) Not less than once every five years, review its continuing education or other continuing competency requirements for professional educators. The review results shall be in writing and address the following:
(i) the renewal requirements for licensure and endorsements;
(ii) the renewal requirements in other jurisdictions, particularly in the Northeast region;
(iii) the cost of the renewal requirements for the licensees; and
(iv) an analysis of the utility and effectiveness of the renewal requirements with respect to the purpose set forth in section 1691 of this chapter.
(2) Establish standards for educator preparation programs in Vermont and approve those that meet the standards so that a person graduating from an approved program shall be eligible for a license to engage in teaching or school administration in accordance with Standards Board rules. The Standards Board may accept accreditation of an educator preparation program in Vermont or another state from a national accreditation entity as sufficient for approval.
(A) Each Vermont educator preparation program seeking Results Oriented Program Approval (ROPA) shall be subject to the following fees.
(i) Authority to recommend licensure. Colleges, universities, and other educator preparation programs that have the authority to recommend applicants for licensure shall pay an annual fee of $1,000.00.
(ii) New program initiation. Colleges, universities, and other educator preparation programs that do not have existing approved ROPA programs, or that wish to add an additional program approved by ROPA, shall pay a fee of $2,000.00 for the initial program application.
(iii) Program review. Colleges, universities, and other educator preparation programs with approved ROPA programs shall pay an annual fee of $25.00 for each applicant who completes a program.
(iv) Two-year report. Colleges, universities, and other educator preparation programs shall pay a fee of $500.00 for the review of the two-year report that they are required to submit following their program review. Programs reviewed to be exemplary by the Vermont Standards Board for Professional Educators may have the requirement of the two-year report waived; in these cases, programs shall not be subject to the two-year report fee.
(v) Visit. Colleges, universities, and other educator preparation programs shall pay a fee of $1,500.00 for the travel, lodging, and meal expenses of the review team. If a program chooses to have a review team chair travel from outside the State under Vermont State Board of Professional Educators (VSBPE) Policy N2, the program is responsible for all additional expenses in excess of $1,500.00.
(B) Fees collected under this section shall be credited to special funds established and managed pursuant to 32 V.S.A. chapter 7, subchapter 5, and shall be available to the Agency to offset the costs of providing those services.
(3)(A) Establish standards, including endorsements, according to which individuals may obtain a license or have one renewed or reinstated.
(B) Adopt rules for an application process to provide licensure to applicants who can demonstrate three years or more of licensed practice in good standing in another jurisdiction within the United States, regardless of whether that jurisdiction has licensing requirements substantially similar to those of this State. The Standards Board may, by rule, exclude an endorsement from the process required by this subdivision (B) if it finds that licensure through this process for the endorsement does not fulfill the goals set forth in section 1691 of this chapter.
(4) Oversee and monitor the application and licensing process administered by the office. The Standards Board may, by adoption of a written policy that is posted on the Agency's website, allow specific military credentials to satisfy one or more requirements for licensure.
(5) Develop a code of professional ethics and act as advisor to professional educators regarding its interpretation. (Amended 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; 2015, No. 149 (Adj. Sess.), § 47; 2019, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. April 1, 2021.)
§ 1695. Review of licensing standards
Prior to the prefiling by the Standards Board of a licensing standard or procedure proposed for rulemaking pursuant to 3 V.S.A. § 820, the Secretary may object to it before the State Board on the grounds that it would have significant adverse financial or operational impact on the public school system. If the State Board agrees, it may remand the proposed rule to the Standards Board for further deliberations consistent with its written decision. The Secretary may also object on the same grounds to a substantive change to a proposed rule, once initiated, before a final proposal is filed pursuant to 3 V.S.A. § 841. (Amended 1989, No. 118, § 3; 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 162, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
§§ 1695, 1696. [Reserved for future use.].
§ 1695a. Pre-application criminal background determination; uniform process for foreign credential verification
(a) Pre-application criminal background determination. An individual may request a pre-application determination of the individual's criminal background. The pre-application determination shall adhere to the process set forth in section 254 of this title. Results of a pre-application determination shall not be binding on the Secretary in a future application.
(1) The individual's request for a pre-application determination shall include documentation related to criminal conviction or substantiation, evidence of rehabilitation or mitigation, and identification of which license and any endorsement the individual will seek.
(2) The individual shall submit this request on a form provided by the Secretary, accompanied by the pre-application criminal background determination fee set forth in section 1697 of this chapter. If the individual thereafter applies for licensure, this pre-application fee shall be deducted from that license application fee.
(3) The Secretary shall:
(A) process a request within 30 days of receiving a complete request;
(B) assess the nature of any underlying convictions and substantiations, the nexus to the license and endorsement sought, and the provided evidence of rehabilitation or mitigation; and
(C) respond to the individual's request in writing, stating whether the individual may seek licensure.
(b) Uniform process for foreign credential verification.
(1) The Standards Board shall adopt rules in consultation with the Secretary that prescribe a process for the Secretary to assess the equivalence of an applicant's professional credentials earned outside the United States as compared to State licensing requirements for professional educators.
(2) Any determination of equivalence by the Secretary under this subsection (b) shall be in consultation with the Standards Board, recorded in the applicant's licensing file, and binding upon the Secretary.
(3) In administering this subsection, the Secretary may rely upon third-party credential verification services. The cost of such services shall be paid by the applicant.
(4) The provisions relating to preliminary license denials set forth in subsection 1704(a) of this chapter shall apply to a license application that is preliminarily denied for nonequivalence under this subsection. (Added 2019, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 8, eff. April 1, 2021.)
§ 1696. Licensing
(a) Qualifications of applicants. An applicant shall submit to the Secretary evidence satisfactory to the Secretary that the applicant either has completed all requirements of an approved educator preparation program or has otherwise acquired the knowledge and skills required for a license through coursework and experiences apart from an approved educator preparation program.
(b) License by reciprocity.
(1) By rule, the Standards Board shall establish standards according to which an applicant who meets the licensing standards of another state with standards substantially similar to Vermont's may be accorded a license in this State, provided the other state recognizes, by substantially reciprocal regulations or laws, licenses issued in this State.
(2) Eligibility for licensure under this subsection shall be in addition to eligibility for licensure under subdivision 1694(3)(B) of this chapter.
(c) Temporary licenses. By rule, the Standards Board may establish standards, if any, by which an applicant who otherwise does not meet the standards for a license may obtain, for a period not to exceed two years, a temporary license.
(d) Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructors. The Board shall accept certification of a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor by the federal Department of Defense as qualification for a license to provide Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instruction to a student enrolled in a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
(e) Denial of license. The Secretary may deny a license for:
(1) failure to meet the conditions for issuance of a license or endorsement or renewal or reinstatement thereof; or
(2) failure of a licensee to demonstrate the competencies specified in the rules of the Standards Board.
(f) Appeal. An applicant aggrieved by a decision of the Secretary regarding the issuance or renewal of a license may appeal that decision by notifying the Secretary in writing within 30 days of receiving the decision. The Secretary shall transmit notice of the appeal to the administrative officer for hearing panels to initiate the appeal process set forth in section 1700 of this title. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 163, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2019, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. April 1, 2021.)
§ 1697. Fees
(a) Each individual applicant and licensee shall be subject to the following fees:
(1) Processing of application $50.00 per application
(2) Issuance of Level I license $50.00 per year
for the term
of the license
(3) Issuance of Level II license $50.00 per year
for the term
of the renewal
(4) Official copy of licenses $10.00
(6) Issuance of provisional, emergency, $50.00 per year
or apprenticeship license for the term of the license
(7) Peer review process $1,200.00 one-time fee
(8) Pre-application criminal background $25.00
(b) Pursuant to qualifications and procedures determined by the Secretary, the Agency shall, upon request, waive application fees to qualified military members and military spouses.
(c) Fees collected under this section shall be credited to special funds established and managed pursuant to 32 V.S.A. chapter 7, subchapter 5, and shall be available to the Agency to offset the costs of providing those services. (Added 1971, No. 104, § 2; amended 1989, No. 118, § 1; 1997, No. 59, § 26, eff. June 30, 1997; 2001, No. 65, § 12; 2005, No. 202 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; 2015, No. 57, § 6; 2019, No. 152 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. April 1, 2021.)
§ 1697. Repealed. 2005, No. 214, § 13(d).
§ 1698. Causes for licensing action
Any one of the following, or any combination of the following, constitutes potential cause for licensing action whether occurring within or outside the State:
(1) Unprofessional conduct, which means:
(A) grossly negligent conduct or greater, on or off duty, that places a student or students in meaningful physical or emotional jeopardy, or conduct that evidences moral unfitness to practice as an educator;
(B) conviction for a criminal offense in which the underlying circumstances, conduct, or behavior, by gross negligence or greater, places a student or students in meaningful physical or emotional jeopardy, or conviction of a crime that evidences moral unfitness to practice as an educator;
(C) conviction of grand larceny under 13 V.S.A. § 2501 or embezzlement as defined in 13 V.SA. chapter 57, subchapter 2, provided charges were brought after July 1, 2006;
(D) conviction of a crime charged after July 1, 2006 that involves fraudulent misrepresentation, dishonesty, or deceit, including conviction for any of the following: 13 V.S.A. §§ 1101, 1102, 1103, 1104, 1106, 1107, 1108, 3006, or 3016, provided that conviction under 13 V.S.A. §§ 2002, 2502, 2561, 2575, 2582, and 2591, if the value or amount involved is $500.00 or less, shall not be considered a conviction under this subdivision unless it is part of a larger pattern of dishonesty, deceit, or fraud;
(E) a pattern of willful misconduct or a single egregious act of willful misconduct in violation of duties and obligations of the position;
(F) falsification, misrepresentation, or misstatement of material information provided in connection with the application for or renewal or reinstatement of a license or endorsement; and
(G) with respect to a superintendent, the failure to maintain the confidentiality and privileged status of information provided pursuant to subsection 1700(c) and subdivision 1708(f)(3) of this title.
(2) Incompetence, which means the inability or incapacity to perform the duties and competencies required by the license. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007.)
§ 1699. Reports of alleged unprofessional conduct or incompetence
(a) An individual who has reasonable cause to believe a licensee has engaged in unprofessional conduct or is incompetent may, and a superintendent who has reasonable cause to believe a licensee has engaged in unprofessional conduct or is incompetent shall, submit a written report to the Secretary concerning allegations of unprofessional conduct or incompetence about a licensee. A principal submitting a report under this section shall submit it to the superintendent and may also submit it to the Secretary.
(b) Except as provided in section 1708 of this title, information provided the licensing office under this section shall be confidential.
(c) A person who acts in good faith under the provisions of this section shall not be liable for damages in any civil action. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 164, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
§ 1700. Investigation
(a) Investigation committee. Upon receiving notice of either an applicant's appeal of a licensing office decision or an allegation of unprofessional conduct or incompetence on the part of a licensee, the hearing panel administrative officer shall assign one or more of its licensee members to serve on an investigation committee with an investigator and prosecuting attorney assigned by the Secretary of Education to investigate the licensing decision or allegation and make recommendations to the Secretary in accordance with subsections (b) and (d) of this section. Teacher members shall be assigned to assist in the investigation of matters involving teachers and administrator members in matters involving administrators. Members shall not serve on a hearing panel regarding any matter they assisted in investigating. If the administrative officer is unable to assign one or more members to the investigation committee by reason of disqualification, resignation, vacancy, or necessary absence, the officer shall appoint ad hoc members who shall meet the requirements of subsection 1693(b) of this title.
(b) Preliminary review. After conducting a preliminary review of an allegation of unprofessional conduct or incompetence or of a denial of a license based on alleged unprofessional conduct or incompetence, the investigation committee shall make a recommendation to the Secretary regarding whether to conduct a formal investigation.
(c) Formal investigation. If the Secretary decides to conduct a formal investigation, the Secretary shall:
(1) notify the educator and direct the investigation committee to proceed with a formal investigation; and
(2) notify the superintendent of the school district in which the educator may be employed, or if the educator is currently employed as a superintendent, the chair of the board of the supervisory union or supervisory district that employs the superintendent, that the office has commenced a formal investigation of an allegation of unprofessional conduct or incompetence and shall specify the provisions of section 1698 of this title that best describe the allegation.
(d) Recommendation. Upon completing its investigation, the investigation committee shall recommend that the Secretary, with respect to a license application, affirm, or reverse a licensing office decision or, with respect to alleged unprofessional conduct or incompetence, issue, or not issue formal charges.
(e) Professional guidance. In its recommendation as to whether the Secretary should issue formal charges and, if so, what form they should take, the committee may consider the effect it believes its professional guidance may have in mitigating the need for and nature of licensing action. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 165, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
§ 1701. Secretary's determination
(a) Matters involving denial of licensure. With respect to an applicant's appeal, the Secretary shall, within 10 days of receiving the committee's recommendation, affirm or reverse the licensing decision and notify the applicant in writing. If the Secretary reverses the decision, the office shall issue a license accordingly. If the Secretary affirms the decision, the applicant may appeal by notifying the Secretary in writing within 10 days of receiving the Secretary's decision. The Secretary shall notify the hearing panel administrative officer of the appeal.
(b) Matters involving alleged unprofessional conduct or incompetence. With respect to a licensee alleged either incompetent or to have engaged in unprofessional conduct, the Secretary shall, within 10 days of receiving the investigation committee's recommendation, determine whether to issue a formal charge and what, if any, licensing action should be imposed. If the Secretary determines no formal charge is warranted, the Secretary shall notify in writing the licensee and, if the licensee is employed, the superintendent of the school district of employment. If the Secretary determines a formal charge is warranted, the Secretary shall prepare a formal charge, file it with the hearing panel administrative officer, and cause a copy to be served upon the licensee charged together with a notice of hearing and procedural rights, as provided in this chapter. The Secretary shall provide a copy of the formal charge to the superintendent of the school district, if any, in which the licensee is employed, or if the licensee is employed as a superintendent, to the chair of the supervisory union that employs the superintendent, provided the superintendent or board chair agrees to maintain the confidentiality and privileged status of the information as provided in subsection 1708(d) of this title. If the Secretary finds that public health, safety, or welfare imperatively requires emergency action and incorporates a finding to that effect in the formal charge, the hearing panel may order summary suspension of a license pending proceedings for revocation or other action. These proceedings shall be promptly instituted and determined. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 166, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
§ 1702. Hearing panels
(a) Appointment. The Governor shall appoint seven teachers, four administrators, and three members of the public to serve on hearing panels for terms of three years beginning on July 1 of the year of appointment. No person shall be eligible for more than one sequential reappointment. The Governor shall ensure appointments are consistent with the requirements found in subdivisions 1693(b)(1)-(3) of this title. By appointment, the Governor shall fill any vacancy for the remainder of its term. Panel members shall be considered appointive officers for the purposes of 3 V.S.A. chapter 29 and shall be compensated in accordance with 32 V.S.A. § 1010.
(b) Administration. The hearing panels shall be attached for administrative purposes to the office. Annually, the panel members shall meet collectively to:
(1) elect an administrative officer for the purpose of assigning hearing panels in licensing matters;
(2) approve a pool, based upon the Secretary's recommendation, of impartial hearing officers who shall be attorneys admitted to practice in this State; and
(3) plan professional development activities.
(c) Powers and duties of hearing panels. Hearing panels shall have the authority to determine compliance by applicants, licensees, and the office with Standards Board standards according to which individuals may obtain, renew, and retain a license. Upon notification that the applicant has appealed under subsection 1701(a) of this title or that the Secretary has issued a formal charge under subsection 1701(b) of this title, the administrative officer shall appoint a hearing officer and a panel, as well as a chair for the panel. Panels hearing appeals of teachers shall comprise two teacher members and one public member. Panels hearing appeals of administrators shall comprise two administrator members and one public member. In the conduct of proceedings, the hearing officer, or the panel if it takes additional evidence under subsection 1706(a) of this title, may:
(1) issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the furnishing of evidentiary material in connection with a hearing;
(2) authorize depositions to be taken as needed in any investigation, hearing, or proceeding;
(3) conduct administrative hearings in accordance with this section, section 1705 of this title, and 3 V.S.A. chapter 25 regarding appeals of licensing decisions and charges of unprofessional conduct or incompetence;
(4) in the case of the hearing officer, recommend and, in the case of a hearing panel, make decisions regarding appeals of licensing decisions and formal charges; and
(5) undertake any other actions and procedures specified in or required or appropriate to carry out the provisions of this chapter. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 167, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
§ 1703. Time and notice of hearing
The chair of the panel shall fix the time of hearing, which shall be between 30 and 60 days after, as applicable, filing of the license application appeal or service of the charge on the licensee. The chair shall provide the applicant or licensee notice of the hearing, in it stating the following: the time and place of the hearing; the right of the applicant or licensee charged to file with the chair a written response within 20 days of the date of service; the fact that a record of the proceeding will be kept; the rights of the applicant or licensee charged at the hearing to appear personally, to be represented by counsel, to produce witnesses and evidence, to cross-examine witnesses, and to examine such documentary evidence as may be produced; and, in the case of formal charges against the licensee, the range of licensing actions to which the licensee charged may be subject if the formal charges are substantiated. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007.)
§ 1704. Burden of proof
(a) Denial of licensure. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, the burden of proof in matters involving the denial of an initial license or the addition of an endorsement to a license once issued shall be on the applicant by a preponderance of the evidence.
(b) Alleged unprofessional conduct or incompetence. The burden of proof in matters involving alleged unprofessional conduct or incompetence, including denial of a license based on alleged unprofessional conduct or incompetence, shall be on the Secretary by a preponderance of the evidence, except that in the case of revocation or suspension for more than one year, the proof shall be by clear and convincing evidence. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 168, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
§ 1705. Hearing officer recommendation
The hearing officer shall conduct the hearing for the purpose of issuing recommended findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a proposed decision to the hearing panel. The hearing officer may administer oaths and otherwise exercise the powers of a judicial officer regarding the conduct of a fair and impartial hearing. Within 30 days of the hearing, the hearing officer shall recommend to the hearing panel findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a decision and by certified mail provide a copy to the applicant or licensee. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007.)
§ 1706. Decision and order
(a) Hearing panel decision. The hearing panel may take additional evidence and may accept, reject, or modify the recommendations of the hearing officer and shall issue findings of fact, conclusions of law, and an order within 30 days of receiving the recommendations, unless the hearing panel grants an extension for good cause. The hearing panel shall provide a copy of the decision to the Secretary and, by certified mail, the applicant or licensee charged. If formal charges are not substantiated, the hearing panel shall include in its order a statement that the charges were not substantiated by the evidence, and it shall dismiss the charges.
(b) Charges substantiated. If formal charges are substantiated, the hearing panel, in its order, may: take no action; issue a warning; issue a private reprimand; issue a public reprimand; or condition, limit, suspend, or revoke the license to practice. An administrative penalty not to exceed $1,000.00 may be imposed by itself or in connection with the issuance of a warning or of a private or public reprimand. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 169, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
§ 1707. Appeal from panel order
(1) A party aggrieved by a final decision of a hearing panel may, within 30 days of the decision, appeal that decision by filing a notice of appeal with the administrative officer of the hearing panel, who shall refer the case to the Director of the Office of Professional Regulation. The parties may agree to waive this review by written stipulation filed with the administrative officer of the hearing panel. The Director of the Office of Professional Regulation shall assign the case to an appellate officer, who shall conduct a review on the basis of the record created before the hearing panel and shall allow the presentation of evidence regarding alleged irregularities in hearing procedure not shown in the record.
(2) The appellate officer shall not substitute the appellate officer's judgment for that of the hearing panel as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact. The appellate officer may affirm the decision or may reverse and remand the matter with recommendations if substantial rights of the appellant have been prejudiced because the hearing panel's finding, inferences, conclusions, or decisions are:
(A) in violation of constitutional or statutory provisions;
(B) in excess of the statutory authority of the hearing panel;
(C) made upon unlawful procedure;
(D) affected by other error of law;
(E) clearly erroneous in view of the evidence on the record as a whole;
(F) arbitrary or capricious; or
(G) characterized by abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion.
(b) Following appeal or waiver of appeal, a party may appeal to the Supreme Court, which shall review the matter on the basis of the records created before the hearing panel and the appellate officer. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; amended 2021, No. 69, § 13.)
§ 1708. Accessibility and confidentiality of licensing matters
(a) It is the purpose of this section both to protect the reputation of licensees from public disclosure of unwarranted complaints and to fulfill the public's right to know of any action taken against an applicant or a licensee when that action is based on a determination of unprofessional conduct or incompetence.
(b) All meetings and hearings of the Standards Board and hearing panels shall be held in accordance with 1 V.S.A. chapter 5.
(c) The Secretary shall prepare and maintain a register of all complaints, which shall be a public record and which shall show:
(1) with respect to all complaints for which a formal investigation is initiated under subsection 1700(c) of this title, the following information:
(A) the date and the nature of the complaint, but not the identity of the licensee or information that could be used to identify the licensee; and
(B) a summary of the completed investigation; and
(2) only with respect to complaints resulting in the filing of a formal charge under subsection 1701(b) of this title, the following additional information:
(A) the name and business addresses of the licensee and the name of the complainant if disclosure is permitted under federal or State law and does not provide personally identifying information about a student;
(B) formal charges, provided they have been served or a reasonable effort to serve them has been made;
(C) except as provided under 1 V.S.A. chapter 5, the findings, conclusions, and order of the hearing panel; and
(D) final disposition of the matter.
(d) The hearing panel and the Secretary shall not disclose to anyone but the applicant or the licensee charged any information regarding a complaint, proceeding, or record, except the information required to be released under this section.
(e) A licensee or applicant shall have the right to inspect and copy all information in the possession of the Agency pertaining to the licensee or applicant except investigatory files not resulting in formal charges and attorney work product.
(f) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the disclosure of information:
(1) Regarding complaints to State or federal law enforcement agencies in the course of an investigation, provided the State or federal law enforcement agency agrees to maintain the confidentiality and privileged status of the information as provided in subsection (d) of this section.
(2) Regarding denials of licensure for cause, and license suspensions or revocations, and including reinstatements of licenses, to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, consistent with the member agreement executed between it and the State of Vermont. For the purposes of this subdivision, "cause" includes any circumstance or activity also deemed to be a revocable offense.
(3) As is necessary in investigating a complaint, to the superintendent of a school district in which the licensee is employed or, if the licensee is employed as a superintendent, to the chair of the board that employs the superintendent, provided the superintendent or chair agrees to maintain the confidentiality and privileged status of the information as provided in subsection (d) of this section. Where, in the judgment of the Secretary, the alleged unprofessional conduct or incompetence places the students in immediate physical or emotional jeopardy, the office shall inform the superintendent of the school district in which the licensee is employed. The superintendent may take only such action as is both necessary to protect students and consistent with the rights of the licensee. The superintendent shall not do anything that compromises the integrity of the investigation. (Added 2005, No. 214 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2007; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 170, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)
§ 1709. Repealed. 2011, No. 139 (Adj. Sess.), § 51, eff. May 14, 2012.