The New York State Department of Education (NYSED) licenses and oversees over 50 different professions.* The Office of Professional Discipline (OPD) is the part of NYSED which investigates and prosecutes reports of professional misconduct. It is important to know that regardless of any initial appearance of merit, the office investigates all complaints. Notification of any investigation should be taken seriously as it has the potential to impact a licensed professional’s career and professional reputation.
What are the potential penalties for professional misconduct?
New York Education Law section 6511 identifies several potential penalties that may be imposed against a licensee found guilty of professional misconduct. These can include:
- Censure and reprimand
- Suspension of license (wholly for a fixed period of time; partially until the licensee successfully completes a course of retraining; or wholly until the licensee successfully completes a course of therapy or treatment prescribed by the Board of Regents)
- Revocation of the license
- Annulment of the license or registration
- Limitation on the registration or issuance of any further license
- A fine not to exceed ten thousand dollars upon each specification of guilt
- A requirement that the licensee pursue a course of education or training
- A requirement that the licensee perform up to one hundred hours of public service, in a manner and at a time and place as directed by the Board of Regents.
What is a censure and reprimand?
To be censured and reprimanded means to be formally sanctioned for specific conduct. The license remains in good standing, but such a penalty serves as a type of public warning to others that the licensee engaged in conduct that is frowned upon. This penalty is usually reserved for isolated and less severe instances of misconduct.
What is a suspension?
A suspension is just as it sounds, the licensee would not be able to practice their profession during the length of the suspension, which can range from months to years. It is very common however for a suspension to be “stayed”. This means that the licensee would be subject to some form of probation during the specified term, and so long as the terms are complied with, the suspension would not go into effect. This allows the individual to continue to practice during the specified period of the stay.
What is a revocation?
A penalty of revocation means that the professional’s license is, for lack of better words, cancelled. The licensee would no longer be able to practice in their profession, either indefinitely or for a specified amount of time before they would then be permitted to reapply. A revocation can be a career-ending result which is why it is important to have a lawyer experienced in defending professional discipline matters who can assist you.
How much can fines be for professional misconduct?
Fines can reach up to $10,000. However, in most instances, fines ranging from $500 to $2,000 are more likely to be imposed. The amount of any fine will be unique based upon the facts and circumstances of the alleged conduct.
What types of education or training might be required as a penalty for professional misconduct?
Any education, training, or probationary requirements imposed following a finding of professional misconduct will be tailored to the nature of the alleged misconduct. For example, if a nurse is alleged to have made a medication administration error, any continuing education required would focus on medication administration.
Do I really need representation, what can a lawyer do for me?
Even if you believe the allegation is minor or untrue, you should find representation as quickly as possible. Just like being charged with a crime you did not commit, the ramifications of a professional misconduct investigation can be devastating. The last place you want to find yourself is partly along the way only to find that OPD or NYSED are grossly overreaching or treating you improperly, but you’re far enough along that your representative would be fighting with one hand tied behind their back. With your livelihood at stake, and those who rely on you, contact an attorney as soon as possible to know your options.
*Professions overseen by the New York State Department of Education include:
Applied Behavior Analysis
Licensed Behavior Analysts
Certified Behavior Analyst Assistants
Certified Shorthand Reporting
Clinical Laboratory Technology
Clinical Laboratory Technologists
Clinical Laboratory Technicians
Certified Histological Technicians
Registered Dental Assistants
Mental Health Practitioners
Creative Arts Therapists
Marriage and Family Therapists
Mental Health Counselors
Registered Professional Nurses
Clinical Nurse Specialists
Licensed Practical Nurses
Occupational Therapy Assistants
Registered Pharmacy Technicians
Physical Therapist Assistants
Certified Public Accountants
Respiratory Therapy Technicians
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)