2011 Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy
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 Alabama, tenured teachers who are terminated have multiple opportunities to appeal. After receiving written notice of dismissal, the teacher has 15 days to file the first appeal, which is scheduled up to 60 days after the teacher receives notice. The teacher then has another 21 days to file an additional appeal with the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.
Alabama 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 cancellation, which include "incompetency, insubordination, neglect of duty, immorality, failure to perform duties in a satisfactory manner, justifiable decrease in the number of teaching positions, or other good and just cause."
Alabama Code 16-24-8, 9, 10
Specify that classroom ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal.
Euphemistic terms such as "incompetency" are ambiguous at best and may be interpreted as concerning dereliction of duty rather than ineffectiveness. Alabama 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. Alabama should ensure that appeals related to classroom effectiveness are only decided by those with educational expertise.
Alabama recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that, "as noted in response to Goal 5-B, EDUCATEAlabama is a formative rather than a summative process. Employment decisions are made by local boards of education based on the recommendations of local superintendents of education. School system personnel are advised to use progressive discipline procedures when a teacher's performance is less than acceptable and does not improve."
While hiring and firing of teachers is a local issue, the state can and should establish for local districts that ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal so that districts have the legal authority to dismiss poor performers.