Board of Teaching Admonished for Creating 'Appearance of Impropriety' During Licensing Process

Board of Teaching Admonished for Creating 'Appearance of Impropriety' During Licensing Process Photo: KSTP

January 08, 2018 07:51 PM

The Minnesota Court of Appeals admonished the state's Board of Teaching Monday for creating an "appearance of impropriety" while denying a teacher's license.

The case involves Kimberly Baker, a teacher who was denied a license in early childhood special education by the board because her previous training in Iowa was not "equivalent training to that required by Minnesota," according to a court ruling published Monday.

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The board refused to issue Baker's license even after an administrative law judge recommended it do so based on state law.

An attorney for Baker, Rhyddid Watkins of Faegre Baker Daniels, responded via a statement Monday:

"We are relieved to finally see Ms. Baker's odyssey brought to an end," Watkins wrote. "It is unfortunate that it took a four-year legal battle to get the Board to follow the law, but we're happy it finally will." 

In Monday's ruling, the court of appeals overturned the board's decision and determined teachers like Baker are not required to show that their training in other states is similar to training in Minnesota in order to obtain a license.

In addition, the court also determined that the board's former executive director exacted "unspoken pressure on voting board members" by being present when the board reviewed Baker's teaching application.

"We believe even this appearance of impropriety significantly thwarts the public's trust in the board of teaching and the administration of justice generally," Chief Judge Edward Cleary wrote. "We strongly urge the board to reconsider this practice."

RELATED: Teachers with Criminal Pasts Licensed by State Board

Alex Liuzzi, the board's interim executive director who took over last year, has not yet returned messages seeking comment on the ruling.

The board had previously stated its actions were "nothing improper," according to court documents.

It's not clear whether the board will appeal the ruling.

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Joe Augustine

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