In Presmy v. Smith, Commission of Education, 36 Fla. L. Weekly D5202a (Fla. 1st DCA September 16, 2011), the First District Court of Appeal ruled that a statute authorizing the Commission of Education permanently to revoke a teacher’s educator certificate could not be applied retroactively. In 2006, Mr. Presmy, a certified teacher, was involved in an incident at school that resulted in a criminal proceeding. Mr. Presmy pled guilty to misdemeanor battery on a minor. Subsequently, the West Palm Beach County School Board voted to suspend Mr. Presmy and initiated dismissal proceedings. Mr. Presmy challenged the Board’s decision before the Commission. In its final order, the Commission adopted the findings of the administrative law judge (ALJ) that Mr. Presmy did not violate either the code of ethics or principle of professional conduct. Therefore, Mr. Presmy was reinstated to his position with the school district.
In 2008, the Legislature amended section 1012.795(1)(n), Florida Statutes, mandating that the Commission permanently revoke the educator certificate of any teacher convicted of misdemeanor battery on a minor. Pursuant to this legislation, the Commission began proceedings to permanently revoke Mr. Presmy’s educator certificate, based on the previous battery conviction. After two hearings, the Commission entered a final order adopting the ALJ’s recommendation that Mr. Presmy’s educator certificate be permanently revoked. To decide whether to apply amended section 1012.795(1)(n) retroactively, the court followed the two-pronged test adopted by the Florida Supreme Court to “ascertain (1) whether the Legislature clearly expressed its intent that the statute have retroactive application; and if so, (2) whether retroactive application would violate any constitutional principles.” Old Port Cove Holdings, Inc. v. Old Port Cove Condo. Ass’n One, 986 So. 2d 1279, 1284 (Fla. 2008) (quotation omitted). Applying this test, the court concluded that the Legislature did not clearly express an intent that the statute apply retroactively and that the retroactive application of the statute would impair a vested property interest that Mr. Presmy had in his educator certificate.