Teachers Fight Morals Clause in Guam

(CN) – A teachers union sued the Guam Commission for Educator Certification in Federal Court, challenging a law that makes violation of “good morals” punishable by revocation of a teaching license.
     The Guam Federation of Teachers claims the commission has no right to decertify a teacher, without appeal, for behavior listed in Bill 420-32.
     The Legislature passed Bill 420-32 on Dec. 17, 2014, and it became law in January, without the governor’s signature.
     According to the March 2 federal complaint in Hagatna, Guam, the law allows revocation of a teaching licenses for actions that include “intemperance,” “unethical conduct,” and “conduct done knowingly contrary to justice, honesty or good morals.”
     The vague language violates the U.S. Constitution and the Organic Act, which Congress enacted to set up Guam’s government, the union says. It represents teacher in 48 Guam public schools.
     It claims the law also violates the civil service merit system established by the Guam Organic Act.
     The Guam Department of Education is operating under a third-party fiduciary. The U.S. Department of Education placed it under high-risk status in 2003 for gross financial mismanagement and lack of compliance. The third-party fiduciary costs Guam DOE around $4 million a year.
     Last week, the department sought $328 million for the 2016 budget year, but is likely to receive less than its 2015 budget of $230 million.
     The union is represented by Joshua Walsh, of Hagatna.

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