logo (3)

Teacher’s Rights in Case of Tenure and Dismissal

Basic procedural due process in disputes over the dismissal of teachers usually includes notice of intended actions, the right to some explanation for proposed adverse employment actions, and the dismissed individuals’ rights to respond to the planned action. Teacher dismissals refer to the termination of employment Contracts either during academic years for just cause or for teachers with tenure at the end of a given school year. 

Teacher tenure protects teachers from being fired without a good reason. It also helps to ensure students receive a good education. Without tenure, teachers might feel less secure. With it, teachers can focus on doing their best to help students learn.

The Law Says

The law requires that school boards offer assistance plans to help teachers correct the inadequacies revealed in their evaluations. Tenured teachers may have even greater rights, and administrators may need to provide more documentation if their employment is to be terminated due to poor performance.

Teacher tenure is a promise or agreement that a teacher will have their job for a specific amount of time. In many states, after working for a certain period, a teacher can earn tenure. This system protects public school teachers from losing their jobs. They cannot be fired or dismissed without cause or sufficient cause.

rights in case of tenure and dismissal for teachers
  • Officials must schedule two 30-minute observations to gather evidence supporting proposed dismissals and provide teachers with copies of detailed written plans for improvement.
  • Under this law, officials must give teachers the required criteria prior to conducting observations. If their Contracts are to be terminated or not renewed, they must be apprised of the criteria used in making such decisions.
  • While it is not explicitly clear exactly how long the periods would have to be, teachers must be given sufficient time to improve their deficiencies.

If school boards are considering the dismissal of tenured teachers, officials must follow both their own policies and state law.

If teachers fail to meet the minimum standards set in the specified performance criteria in their improvement plans, their school boards are free to terminate their employment Contracts.

The Rationale Behind Teacher Tenure

Teacher tenure is a policy that exists for several important reasons. Its main purpose is to protect good teachers from dismissal for non-educational reasons. Here are some key points behind the rationale of teacher tenure:

Job Security 

  • Teachers could be fired for any reason in the early days of public education, including their personal beliefs, or for teaching controversial topics. They could be fired simply because a school board member wanted to give the job to someone else. Tenure prevents these unfair dismissals, ensuring teachers can only be fired for just cause.

Academic Freedom 

  • Tenure provides academic freedom. With job security, teachers are free to teach controversial or challenging topics without fear of reprisal. This can lead to more effective and engaging classrooms and encourage students’ critical thinking.

Retaining Qualified Teachers

  • This is another important rationale for teacher tenure. Tenure helps attract and keep high-quality teachers. The promise of job stability can draw talented individuals in. It can also encourage them to stay longer.

Fair Evaluation and Dismissal Process 

  • Without tenure, a teacher might be let go based on a single poor evaluation or a personal conflict with an administrator.
  • With tenure, there are clear standards and a process for dismissal. This process can include warnings and opportunities for improvement. If necessary, there can be a fair arbitration hearing before a teacher can be dismissed.

Protection Against Discrimination 

  • Tenure also protects teachers from discrimination. It ensures they can’t be fired on the grounds of race, gender, religion, or political beliefs. This safeguard contributes to a diverse, inclusive school environment.

Teacher Tenure was designed to protect teachers’ rights, but it also has profound benefits for the overall quality of education. It fosters academic freedom and encourages the retention of experienced teachers, ultimately helping create a stable, diverse learning environment.

Tenure Rights for Teachers

Through established practices or contractual agreements, a teacher can gain de facto tenure rights. This can happen in states or districts that don’t officially grant tenure, or it can apply to teachers who have not yet met the official requirements for tenure.

  • This right was established in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Perry v. Sindermann(1972). This case established that teachers who gain de facto tenure are entitled to due process. This means they are entitled to certain procedures before the school district releases them.
  • A tenured teacher who is honorably dismissed also has recall rights. If a position that a teacher is legally qualified to teach becomes vacant within one calendar year from the beginning of the following school term, he or she is entitled to be recalled in order of seniority.

State laws don’t control how tenure works at private schools. But, a private school and a teacher can make a deal that gives the teacher tenure rights. Contract rights govern the enforcement of these rights. In other words, it will not be disputed under state tenure statutes.

Proving Cause for Dismissal

A school must show cause in order to dismiss a teacher who has earned tenure status. Some causes for dismissal include the following:

  • Immoral conduct
  • Incompetence
  • Inefficiency
  • Neglect of duty
  • Substantial noncompliance with school laws
  • Conviction of a crime
  • Insubordination
  • Fraud or misrepresentation

Some state laws give a list of circumstances where a teacher may dismiss a teacher. These considerations are similar to those used when a state agency decides whether to revoke a teacher’s certification.

Dismissal of Tenured Teachers

The key components of due process for teachers are notice and a hearing. Notice means that if a school wants to fire a tenured teacher, it must first tell the teacher why. The reasons could be anything from poor performance to misconduct.

  • Additionally, these teacher tenure laws provide the procedures for firing a tenured teacher. Even with tenure, a teacher can be dismissed. The process is strictly regulated to protect teachers’ rights, and the reasons for dismissal are often clearly stated in education laws.
  • Many state laws about dismissing a teacher actually go beyond these basic steps. Many school policies include extra rules the school follows during this procedure.
  • This rule applies to public schools and sets the basic steps a school must follow when it wants to fire a tenured teacher. It’s important to know that this rule doesn’t say why a teacher can be fired; instead, it outlines how a school should dismiss a teacher.

When a school decides to dismiss a tenured teacher, they must first provide a written notice to the teacher. This notice should include the specific reasons for the proposed dismissal. After receiving the notice, the teacher has the right to challenge the dismissal in a hearing.

  • The hearing allows the teacher to present their side of the story. They can challenge the reasons given for the dismissal. An impartial hearing officer or an arbitrator typically conducts this hearing. Both sides can present evidence and call witnesses in these hearings.

After the hearing, the officer or arbitrator will make a decision based on the evidence presented. If they decide the school has cause for dismissal, the teacher will lose their job and their tenure. If not, the teacher will be able to keep their tenure.

Many school policies include extra rules the school follows during this procedure. If a teacher is not satisfied with the outcome of the hearing, they have the right to appeal the decision to a higher authority, like a state court. The appeal process provides an additional layer of protection for teachers under due process.

Legal Background

There was a time when most teachers were at-will employees without much of a right to due process. This situation changed in light of judicial interpretation of the Due Process Rights of employees under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, which includes the clause “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

Courts and legislatures agree that teacher dismissal involves a property interest because salaries are property.

  • In most states, due process laws require that teachers who are being dismissed must have been informed about their deficiencies and urged to improve.

While school boards may use rationales other than job performance in dismissals, such as when teachers or other employees commit immoral acts with students, regardless of whether in or out of school, these individuals are still entitled to the basic Due Process Rights 

Getting Legal Help With Tenure or Dismissal

While it may seem unfair, unjust, and downright wrong, school districts have an almost absolute right to transfer or reassign teachers at any time for any reason.

  • Teachers should consider getting legal help if they have an issue. They might be facing dismissal, their due process rights may have been violated, or they might believe they are being discriminated against. In these cases, teachers should seek legal help.
  • Find a lawyer who concentrates on education law or employment law. Some lawyers concentrate in special education and collective bargaining agreements.
bill wallace author teacher retirement plans

About Author

Bill Wallace blends his academic background in Literature with his ventures in International Business and finance. His professional journey took him across Europe, especially in Spain, where his passion for writing evolved. Since then, armed with his literary finesse and investment acumen, he has been crafting financial content for teachers worldwide. More about me.

Similar Read:

Share the Post:

Related Posts

How we can help

ready to take the next step in your financial journey?

Book your free second-opinion, and let’s work together to create a financial plan that aligns with your goals and aspirations!

Image of stairs - symbolising taking the next step forward.

Do you need help overcoming your financial struggles?

We’re happy to help! Make the first step to improve your life by reaching out today.