Some teachers are getting fired in one state but hired in another

Schools across the country might be hiring teachers who have broken rules or even lost their teaching license in a different state, a USA Today investigation found.

And according to some findings that USA Today didn’t publish in its story, there could be more than 800 teachers throughout California who have been disciplined -- but other states that consider hiring them might not know it.

A team of USA Today Network journalists based in different cities and led by Washington, D.C.-based reporter Steve Reilly obtained state records of teacher discipline and misconduct. The group compared those records with the names in a voluntary database maintained by the National Assn. of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC).

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The NASDTEC Clearinghouse is the only national database that states can use to check whether a potential teacher has been disciplined or had a license revoked elsewhere. But thousands of names are missing from it, according to USA Today’s analysis, published Sunday. 

“The missing names include more than 1,400 teachers whose credentials were permanently revoked or surrendered in one state, and more than 200 cases of sexual or physical abuse,” USA Today wrote in the explanation of its analysis. The names of thousands more who were disciplined in any way were missing as well.

Some of those teachers are from California. USA Today found that the NASDTEC database is missing at least 20 cases of California teachers whose licenses were revoked and more than 800 who faced lesser forms of discipline since 1990, Reilly said in an interview. 

At least two teachers had their licenses revoked in California and went on to teach in other states, he said. These are not comprehensive numbers, he noted. There might be more that USA Today wasn’t able to confirm.

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None of the California examples was cited in the story, though USA Today gave the state a B grade in tracking teacher discipline because of its flaws in reporting to NASDTEC, Reilly said.

It is California’s policy to report teacher discipline to NASDTEC, said Joshua Speaks, a spokesman for California’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing. There might be names missing, but he doesn’t know which names are missing or why, Speaks said. He plans to ask Reilly for the names and follow up.

“Right now we don’t see any sort of flaw in our process,” Speaks said. “It’s definitely something we’re going to be following up [on].” 

It is possible for a teacher to get credentialed in California after losing his or her teaching credential in another state, Speaks said. For example, if a teacher lost his credential in Oregon because of addiction, but applied for one in California 10 years later with proof of an AA membership, sobriety, and a lack of run-ins with police, he might be let into the classroom. 

Read the full USA Today investigation here.

Reach Sonali Kohli on Twitter @Sonali_Kohli or by email at


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