3 Reasons Why Educators Unfairly Accused of Wrongdoing Should Consider Talking to an Attorney Before Providing A Statement
A false accusation of wrongdoing is one of the most difficult situations an educator can experience. Such allegations can involve conduct related to an interaction with a student, employee, or member of the public as well as conduct outside of the school. Such incidents will likely lead to investigations where educators could find themselves answering questions from a supervisor, state agencies, or law enforcement. In an attempt to resolve or further investigate the matter, a request or in some instances, a demand for a written statement may follow with little regard for an employee’s constitutional rights.
Here is why providing an immediate statement without careful consideration and the counsel of an experienced attorney could go south very quickly:
1. Inartful or ill- Considered Answers
As the old adage goes, anything you say can be used against you, whether it’s true, false, misspoken, misunderstood or otherwise simply taken out of context. Attempting to further explain oneself can raise additional questions and may bring to light an issue(s) that was not previously under consideration.
2. Reputation and Career Risk
Inadvertent, and/or additional information given without the consultation of an experienced attorney in some circumstances could lead to an employer taking disciplinary action and reporting
the matter to a state-licensing authority, which could place one’s professional licensure at risk. In some cases where there is a reason to believe that a criminal statute(s) may have been violated a
criminal investigation(s) may be opened by law enforcement.
3. Public Record
In Florida, your written statement(s) will likely become public record for all to find and view. This could impact future employment and/or advancement opportunities.
It may be easy to assume that once you’ve explained the reasonableness of your actions and/or your good intention that any rational person would understand and quickly accept your position. However, there is always more to the story, and you may not be privy to what information has already been obtained, where the questions are leading, or where the investigation is heading.
Finally, consider asking to collect your thoughts and getting back to the person requesting a statement, while contacting an Attorney. An experienced Attorney can help you navigate an already unnerving situation. Remember, no matter how harmless it may seem, discussing potential or suspected wrongdoing without first talking with an Attorney could negatively impact your career, reputation and even your liberty.