An educator who agreed to surrender his Montana teaching certificate after he was accused of having sex with a student could be licensed to teach again, although officials say it is unlikely.
Stacey Rambold, who taught business and technology at Senior High last year, agreed last week to resign from Billings School District 2 and surrender his teaching license.
His decision came in the wake of allegations that he had sex with a freshman girl multiple times on and off school grounds during the 2007-2008 school year.
If Rambold's license forfeiture is accepted by the Montana Board of Public Education, which could happen at its September meeting, it will be reported to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification.
That association maintains a database of some 37,000 educators from around the country whose licenses have been suspended, surrendered or revoked.
Education departments in all 50 states belong to the association and can check the names of teaching applicants against the database, said NASDTEC executive director Roy Einreinhofer.
It takes a court action to remove a name from the list, which was computerized in 1987 and can only be accessed by the state agencies that license teachers.
"We're kind of a hidden resource," Einreinhofer said. "It has made a difference in a lot of cases."
But states are not required to check NASDTEC before issuing a license, and being listed in the database does not automatically prevent a person from receiving a license.
Agencies that do consult the clearinghouse must call the state where the license action was taken to learn the circumstances, Einreinhofer said.
And states cannot or do not always release the details surrounding an action against a license, said Linda McCulloch, Montana's superintendent of public instruction.
"NASDTEC has categories of license surrender," McCulloch said. "We could only tell them the category (of the) surrender."
There is a category for sexual misconduct, McCulloch said.
Reporting action against teaching licenses to NASDTEC is not mandatory, and critics say there are discrepancies in the ways states use the database.
Some states report only teachers who have been convicted of crimes, while others report educators for less-serious infractions, such as failing to pay student loans.
NASDTEC is used by state education departments, which license people to teach in public schools and some private schools. But not all private schools require teachers to have state certification, and those that do not don't have access to the database.
Still, Billings school officials are confident that securing the license surrender from Rambold, who is under investigation by the Billings Police Department, and reporting it to the national clearinghouse will prevent him from teaching again.
"It's a huge red flag," said SD2 Superintendent Jack Copps. "It doesn't absolutely guarantee it, but it certainly would be improper conduct for anybody to issue him a license without checking.
"The bottom line is they would not license him without a phone call," Copps said.
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