The Commission is authorized to conduct hearings to receive testimony from the public on issues related to teacher preparation and certification and in disciplinary matters. Notices of non-disciplinary hearings will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Requests for such hearings on a particular matter can be made in writing to the Executive Director.
In most cases in which a Notice of Charges is filed, the educator has 30 days in which to file a responsive pleading and to request a hearing. When the Department is seeking an immediate suspension, the educator must file a response within 15 days. If a hearing is requested and factual issues are in dispute, the Commission will assign the case to one of its designated hearing officers. The hearing officers are independent attorneys who are under contract to act as the presiding officer in hearings pursuant to the General Rules of Administrative Practice and Procedure.
On behalf of the Commission, the hearing officers are granted authority to hold pre-hearing conferences, to conduct a fair and impartial hearing and to maintain order, to rule on evidentiary questions, and to dispose of procedural matters. A hearing officer is prohibited, however, from making a final determination of the case except through a proposed report to the Commission. The Commission is charged with making all final determinations.
Upon completion of the hearing, the hearing officer prepares a proposed report containing findings of fact, conclusions of law and recommended discipline where appropriate. Parties to the case, excluding the intervening school entity, may file an appeal of the proposed report to the Commission within 30 days after the date of that the proposed report was mailed. If exceptions are filed, the Commission may accept, modify or reject the hearing officer’s decision as the Commission is the ultimate fact finder. In addition, the Commission may reopen the proceeding for the reception of further evidence or initiate a review of the decision in the absence of exceptions.
Decisions of the Commission may be appealed to Commonwealth Court.