Section 231.263, Florida Statutes 2001
231.263 Recovery network program for educators.--
(1) RECOVERY NETWORK ESTABLISHED.--There is created within the Department of Education, to begin on July 1, 1994, a recovery network program to assist educators who are impaired as a result of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or a mental condition in obtaining treatment to permit their continued contribution to the education profession. Any person who holds certification issued by the department pursuant to s. 231.17 is eligible for the assistance.
(a) The department shall employ an administrator and staff as are necessary to be assigned exclusively to the recovery network program.
(b) The Commissioner of Education shall establish the criteria for and appoint the staff of the program.
(c) The department may contract with other professionals to implement this section.
(3) PURPOSE.--The recovery network program shall assist educators in obtaining treatment and services from approved treatment providers, but each impaired educator must pay for his or her treatment under terms and conditions agreed upon by the impaired educator and the treatment provider. A person who is admitted to the program must contract with the treatment provider and the program. The treatment contract must prescribe the type of treatment and the responsibilities of the impaired educator and of the provider and must provide that the impaired educator's progress will be monitored by the program.
(4) APPROVAL OF TREATMENT PROVIDERS.--The recovery network program shall locate, evaluate, and approve qualified treatment providers.
(5) RELATIONSHIP WITH EDUCATION PRACTICES COMMISSION AND DEPARTMENT.--The recovery network program shall operate independently of, but may cooperate with, the Office of Professional Practices Services of the Department of Education and the Education Practices Commission. A person's participation in the program entitles the commissioner to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement pursuant to s. 231.262, or such participation may be considered a factor in mitigation of or a condition of disciplinary action against the person's certificate by the Education Practices Commission pursuant to s. 231.2615.
(6) PARTICIPATION.--The recovery network program shall operate independently of employee assistance programs operated by local school districts, and the powers and duties of school districts to make employment decisions, including disciplinary decisions, is not affected except as provided in this section:
(a) A person who is not subject to investigation or proceedings under ss. 231.2615 and 231.262 may voluntarily seek assistance through a local school district employee assistance program for which he or she is eligible and through the recovery network, regardless of action taken against him or her by a school district. Voluntarily seeking assistance alone does not subject a person to proceedings under ss. 231.2615 and 231.262.
(b) A person who is subject to investigation or proceedings under ss. 231.2615 and 231.262 may be required to participate in the program. The program may approve a local employee assistance program as a treatment provider or as a means of securing a treatment provider. The program and the local school district shall cooperate so that the person may obtain treatment without limiting the school district's statutory powers and duties as an employer or the disciplinary procedures under ss. 231.2615 and 231.262.
(c) A person who has not previously been under investigation by the department may be enrolled in a treatment program by the recovery network after an investigation has commenced, if the person:
1. Acknowledges his or her impairment.
2. Agrees to evaluation, as approved by the recovery network.
3. Agrees to enroll in an appropriate treatment program approved by the recovery network.
4. Executes releases for all medical and treatment records regarding his or her impairment and participation in a treatment program to the recovery network, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. s. 290dd-3 and the federal regulations adopted thereunder.
5. Enters into a deferred prosecution agreement with the commissioner, which provides that no prosecution shall be instituted concerning the matters enumerated in the agreement if the person is properly enrolled in the treatment program and successfully completes the program as certified by the recovery network. The commissioner is under no obligation to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the educator but may do so if he or she determines that it is in the best interest of the educational program of the state.
6. Has not previously entered a substance abuse program.
7. Is not being investigated for any action involving commission of a felony or violent act against another person.
8. Has not had multiple arrests for minor drug use, possession, or abuse of alcohol.
(7) REFERRAL TO NETWORK WHEN NO PROBABLE CAUSE IS DETERMINED.--If a complaint is made to the department against a teacher or an administrator pursuant to s. 231.262 and a finding of no probable cause indicates that no concern other than impairment exists, the department shall inform the person of the availability of assistance provided by the recovery network program.
(8) ADMISSION.--A person who is referred or who requests admission to the recovery network program shall be temporarily admitted pending a finding that he or she has:
(a) Acknowledged his or her impairment problem.
(b) Agreed to evaluation as approved by the recovery network program.
(c) Voluntarily enrolled in an appropriate treatment program approved by the recovery network program.
(d) Voluntarily sought agreement from the school district for temporary leave or limitations on the scope of employment if the temporary leave or limitations are included in the treatment provider's recommendations; or voluntarily agreed to pursue the alternative treatment recommended by the treatment provider if the school district does not approve such temporary leave or limitations on the scope of employment.
(e) Executed releases to the recovery network program for all medical and treatment records regarding his or her impairment and participation in a treatment program pursuant to 42 U.S.C. s. 290dd-3 and the federal regulations adopted thereunder.
(9) DISCLOSURE OF MEDICAL RECORDS.--An approved treatment provider must disclose to the recovery network program all information in its possession which relates to a person's impairment and participation in the treatment program. Information obtained under this subsection is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution. This exemption is necessary to promote the rehabilitation of impaired educators and to protect the privacy of treatment program participants. The failure to provide such information to the program is grounds for withdrawal of approval of a treatment provider. Medical records provided to the program may not be disclosed to any other person, except as authorized by law.
(10) DECLARATION OF INELIGIBILITY.--
(a) A person may be declared ineligible for further assistance from the recovery network program if he or she does not progress satisfactorily in a treatment program or leaves a prescribed program or course of treatment without the approval of the treatment provider.
(b) The determination of ineligibility must be made by the commissioner in cases referred to him or her by the program administrator. Before referring a case to the commissioner, the administrator must discuss the circumstances with the treatment provider. The commissioner may direct the Office of Professional Practices Services to investigate the case and provide a report.
(c) If a treatment contract with the program is a condition of a deferred prosecution agreement, and the commissioner determines that the person is ineligible for further assistance, the commissioner may agree to modify the terms and conditions of the deferred prosecution agreement or may issue an administrative complaint, pursuant to s. 231.262, alleging the charges regarding which prosecution was deferred. The person may dispute the determination as an affirmative defense to the administrative complaint by including with his or her request for hearing on the administrative complaint a written statement setting forth the facts and circumstances that show that the determination of ineligibility was erroneous. If administrative proceedings regarding the administrative complaint, pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57, result in a finding that the determination of ineligibility was erroneous, the person is eligible to participate in the program. If the determination of ineligibility was the only reason for setting aside the deferred prosecution agreement and issuing the administrative complaint and the administrative proceedings result in a finding that the determination was erroneous, the complaint shall be dismissed and the deferred prosecution agreement reinstated without prejudice to the commissioner's right to reissue the administrative complaint for other breaches of the agreement.
(d) If a treatment contract with the program is a condition of a final order of the Education Practices Commission, the commissioner's determination of ineligibility constitutes a finding of probable cause that the person failed to comply with the final order. The commissioner shall issue an administrative complaint, and the case shall proceed under ss. 231.2615 and 231.262, in the same manner as cases based on a failure to comply with an order of the Education Practices Commission.
(e) If the person voluntarily entered into a treatment contract with the program, the commissioner shall issue a written notice stating the reasons for the determination of ineligibility. Within 20 days after the date of such notice, the person may contest the determination of ineligibility pursuant to ss. 120.569 and 120.57.
(11) MEDICAL RECORDS RELEASE.--Medical records released pursuant to paragraph (8)(e) may be disclosed to the commissioner, the Office of Professional Practices Services, and the Education Practices Commission only as required for purposes of this section, or as otherwise authorized by law. Further disclosure or release of the medical records may not be made except as authorized by law and in accordance with 42 U.S.C. s. 290dd-2 and the federal regulations adopted thereunder. The medical records are confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
(12) FEES.--The State Board of Education shall include in the fees established pursuant to s. 231.30 an amount sufficient to implement the provisions of this section. The state board shall by rule establish procedures and additional standards for:
(a) Approving treatment providers, including appropriate qualifications and experience, amount of reasonable fees and charges, and quality and effectiveness of treatment programs provided.
(b) Admitting eligible persons to the program.
(c) Evaluating impaired persons by the recovery network program.
History.--s. 1, ch. 93-165; s. 1242, ch. 95-147; s. 1, ch. 95-237; s. 82, ch. 96-406; s. 50, ch. 96-410; s. 7, ch. 98-281; s. 26, ch. 2000-301.