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 Mississippi, tenured teachers who are terminated may appeal multiple times. After receiving written notice of dismissal, the teacher has five days to file a written request for a hearing, which must take place within 30 days. Teachers may then file additional appeals with the chancery court and then with the Supreme Court. The time frame of these appeals is not addressed by the state.
Mississippi 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 "incompetence, neglect of duty, immoral conduct, intemperance, brutal treatment of a pupil or other good cause."
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. Mississippi 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. Mississippi should ensure that appeals related to classroom effectiveness are only decided by those with educational expertise.
Mississippi recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.