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 Delaware, teachers can be dismissed for incompetency, which the state defines as "a pattern of ineffective teaching."
In addition, tenured teachers who are terminated may appeal multiple times. After receiving written notice of dismissal, the teacher has 10 days to file the first appeal, which is scheduled up to 21 days after receipt of the request. The teacher may then file an additional appeal with the superior court. The state does not stipulate the time frame of this appeal.
Delaware does not 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 "immorality, misconduct in office, incompetency, disloyalty, neglect of duty, willful and persistent insubordination, a reduction in the number of teachers required as a result of decreased enrollment, or a decrease in education services."
Delaware Statute Title 14, Chapter 14, 1410-1413; Delaware Code Title 14, Chapter 12, 1273
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. Delaware should ensure that appeals related to classroom effectiveness are only decided by those with educational expertise.
Delaware asserted that "the due process for a revocation of a license and Standard Certificate is substantially different from that of dismissal for ineffective teaching or a reduction in the number of teachers as a result of diminished student enrollment."
The point is that the multiple appeals allowed for dismissal based on ineffectiveness—including to the superior court—are more in keeping with the more serious consequence of license revocation.