The Board of Nurse Examiners for the State of Texas (BNE) evaluates applicant’s for RN and LVN licensure per the Nursing Practice Act and the Nursing Board’s Rules found in 22 Texas Administrative Code Sec. 217.11 et al. Per the Nursing Practice Act, Board Staff has the ability to investigate an applicant’s character and fitness to practice Nursing based on indications that an applicant may lack the "good professional character" to be a licensed nurse.
In an effort to weed out poor or marginal applicants Board Staff notifies individuals that due to their criminal, work, mental health or drug use history they must Petition the Board’s Executive Director for a Declaratory Order to practice nursing. Then Board Staff (through the Executive Director) requests that they undergo a forensic psychological evaluation with a polygraph test component. Although it is not explicitly stated in the request the implication is that a failure to submit to the "illegally requested" tests will result in a denial of the application for a license.
Although not legally authorized, Board Staff requests these evaluations for crimes that are often thirty (30) years old and that in and of themselves do not relate to the practice of nursing. Moreover, the forensic evaluation and polygraph tests are often nothing more than a fishing expedition to determine if a person has done something in their past to render them ineligible. Oftentimes what is dicovered is then used as the basis for denial even though it is often not legally admissible evidence. The simple truth is JUST Say No to the polygraph and call an attorney.
You have a right to be heard which is something Board Staff does not tell you when they ask you to undergo the expensive, unauthorized and oftentimes inapproriate and unathorized tests.
Over the last several years I have had Client’s asked to submit a Petition for a Declaratory Order for some of the the following reasons:
- A thirty-two year old plea of no-contest to a felony possession charge that resulted in a deferred adjudication and dismissal. This Client also had an impeccable military and professional career, yet Board Staff requested him to undergo a Forensic Evaluation and Polygraph test and tried to force him to agree to a two year probationary term;
- A twenty-five year old arrest and conviction for prostitution;
- A twenty year old Driving While Intoxicated arrest, plea and probation;
- Pleas of no contest to crimes that were misdemeanors and unrealted to the practice of nursing that were all over ten years old;
- Criminal Arrests that resulted in dismissals
In all of these cases we declined the invitation to undergo the forensic / polygraph evaluations and challenged the Staff of the Board of Nurse Examiners by requesting either a hearing on the merits at the State Office of Administrative Hearings or an appearance in front of the Eligibility & Disciplinary Committee. In each case the applicant was granted an unrestricted license to practice nursing.