The state should articulate that ineffective classroom performance is grounds for dismissal and ensure that the process for terminating ineffective teachers is expedient and fair to all parties.
In Alaska, tenured teachers who are terminated may appeal multiple times. After receiving written notice of the employer's decision to dismiss, a teacher has 15 days to appeal and request a hearing before the school board. The time frame for the hearing is not addressed by the state. If the school board sustains the dismissal, the teacher may appeal this decision to the superior court for judicial review.
Alaska does not explicitly make teacher ineffectiveness grounds for dismissal, nor does the state distinguish the due process rights of teachers dismissed for ineffective performance from those facing other charges commonly associated with license revocation, such as a felony and/or morality violations. The process is the same regardless of the grounds for dismissal, which include "failure to perform the teacher's customary teaching duties in a satisfactory manner," immorality and substantial noncompliance with school laws.
Alaska Code 14.20.180; 175; 170
Specify that classroom ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal.
"Failure to perform customary teaching duties" is ambiguous at best and may be interpreted as concerning dereliction of duty rather than ineffectiveness. Alaska should explicitly make teacher ineffectiveness grounds for dismissal so that districts do not feel they lack the legal basis for terminating consistently poor performers.
Ensure that teachers terminated for poor performance have the opportunity to appeal within a reasonable time frame.
Nonprobationary teachers who are dismissed for any grounds, including ineffectiveness, are entitled to due process. However, cases that drag on for years drain resources from school districts and create a disincentive for districts to attempt to terminate poor performers. Therefore, the state must ensure that the opportunity to appeal occurs only once and only at the district level. It is in the best interest of both the teacher and the district that a conclusion be reached within a reasonable time frame.
Distinguish the process and accompanying due process rights between dismissal for classroom ineffectiveness and dismissal for morality violations, felonies or dereliction of duty.
While nonprobationary teachers should have due process for any termination, it is important to differentiate between loss of employment and issues with far-reaching consequences that could permanently impact a teacher's right to practice. Alaska should ensure that appeals related to classroom effectiveness are only decided by those with educational expertise.
Alaska recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.