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 Louisiana, tenured teachers who are terminated have one opportunity to appeal. After the board notifies the teacher of dismissal, the teacher has up to one year to file an appeal with a court of competent jurisdiction.
Louisiana 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 "willful neglect of duty, or incompetency, dishonesty, or immorality, or of being a member of or contributing to any group, organization, movement or corporation that is by law or injunction prohibited from operating in the state of Louisiana."
Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:443
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. Louisiana should explicitly make teacher ineffectiveness grounds for dismissal so that districts do not feel they lack the legal basis for terminating consistently poor performers. Without this specification, Louisiana's efforts to improve its evaluation framework (see Goal 3-B) may be undermined.
Ensure that teachers terminated for poor performance have the opportunity to appeal within a reasonable time frame.
While the state is commended for allowing only one appeal, Louisiana should consider establishing parameters for this appeal. It is in the best interest of both the teacher and the district that a conclusion be reached within a reasonable time frame. Cases that drag on drain resources from school districts and create a disincentive for districts to attempt to terminate poor performers.
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 for and issues with far-reaching consequences that could permanently impact a teacher's right to practice. Louisiana should ensure that appeals related to classroom effectiveness are only decided by those with educational expertise.
Louisiana recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.