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Education Professionals

State Boards of Education and related licensing entities for teachers, professors, and school administrators typically have policies on addiction, given the nature of their work with children and young adults.

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The National Education Association (NEA)

The National Education Association (NEA) is the largest labor union and professional interest group in the United States, representing public school teachers, support personnel, retired educators, and college and university faculty and staff. While the NEA is critical in advocating for education professionals, it does not have regulatory powers like state licensing boards or education departments. Thus, it doesn’t directly “regulate” teachers and educators regarding substance abuse and alcoholism.

However, the NEA acknowledges the importance of the well-being of educators and has taken initiatives in various ways:

Awareness and Advocacy
The NEA can promote awareness about the importance of mental health, stress management, and substance abuse challenges within the education profession. They may also advocate for district, state, or national policies that support educators’ well-being.
Resources
Through its publications, website, and events, the NEA might provide resources, articles, and tools related to wellness, stress reduction, and mental health, which could indirectly address substance abuse issues.
Professional Development
NEA could sponsor or recommend professional development workshops or seminars on wellness, stress management, or other related topics.
Support Systems
The NEA, through its state and local affiliates, might offer support systems or helplines for educators facing challenges, including substance abuse.
Collaboration with Other Entities
The NEA might collaborate with other organizations, governmental bodies, or experts to address issues of educator well-being, which would encompass substance abuse and alcoholism concerns.
Policy Recommendations
While the NEA does not regulate educators, it can propose and advocate for policies that prioritize educator health and wellness. School districts or state education bodies could adopt these policies.

The American Medical Association (AMA) is a professional association for physicians and medical students in the United States. While the AMA does not have direct regulatory power over individual physicians like state medical boards do, it does play an influential role in setting ethical guidelines, advocating for policy changes, and providing resources and education. Here’s how the AMA addresses substance abuse and alcoholism:

State Medical Boards

In the United States, the oversight of educators is primarily a state-level responsibility. Each state has its own Department of Education or similar entity. Specific boards or commissions are usually responsible for educators’ certification and professional conduct within these departments. These entities often go by names such as “State Board of Education,” “Professional Standards Commission,” or “Teacher Licensing Board,” depending on the state. Regarding substance abuse and alcoholism among educators, here’s how state boards typically approach the issue:
Each state will have its standards for educators’ licensure and professional conduct. While they might not directly mention substance abuse or alcoholism, these standards emphasize educators’ moral and professional responsibilities. Substance abuse that affects an educator’s ability to perform their duties or jeopardizes students’ safety or well-being would likely violate these standards.
Depending on state regulations, educators or school administrators might be required to report known cases of substance abuse that affect job performance or student safety.
If allegations of substance abuse arise, the state board or related entity can launch an investigation. This might involve interviews, evaluations, and reviews of evidence to determine the nature and extent of the problem.
Depending on the findings of an investigation, educators could face various corrective actions. These might range from mandatory counseling or treatment to suspension or revocation of teaching licenses.

Depending on the state, there might be mandatory reporting requirements for other physicians or healthcare professionals who suspect a colleague is impaired by substance abuse or alcoholism.

Recognizing the stigma associated with substance abuse, some state education departments might provide confidential helplines or resources for educators to seek help without immediate professional repercussions.
For educators who have faced disciplinary action due to substance abuse, there is often a process for license reinstatement. This could involve proving sustained sobriety, undergoing periodic evaluations, or meeting other criteria.
State boards or related entities might provide resources, training, or continuing education opportunities addressing substance abuse, mental health, and overall wellness for educators.
In some states, peer support or mentorship programs might be in place to help educators facing challenges, including substance abuse.
Most states require background checks for educators before they are licensed or upon renewal. While this primarily screens for criminal activity, it can also flag issues related to substance abuse, such as DUIs.
It’s essential to understand that the specific procedures, resources, and interventions can vary widely from one state to another. Each state will have its approach to addressing and mitigating the challenges of substance abuse and alcoholism in education, balancing the need to support educators with ensuring student safety and educational quality.
KRISTINA ROBERTSON, LMSW, LCDC

KRISTINA ROBERTSON

LMSW, LCDC | Counselor
Kristina Robertson serves as Counselor at Burning Tree Ranch. Holding both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Social Work, Kristina’s greatest joy is “watching our clients learn to love themselves again.” An avid equestrian, mother to twenty-one horses, and all-around animal lover, Kristina serves as a bright shining example of long-term recovery in action. Her commitment to whole person health: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual makes her an invaluable member of the Burning Tree Ranch clinical team. As a distinguished Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Zeta member, Kristina believes deeply in each client’s pursuit of becoming their best selves.

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