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 North Carolina, tenured teachers who are terminated have multiple opportunities to appeal. After receiving written notice of dismissal, the teacher has 14 days to file a request for a hearing by a case manager or a hearing by the board, which must occur within 10 days. The aggrieved teacher may then—within 30 days—file an additional appeal with the district superior court. The state does not specify the time frame for this appeal.
North Carolina 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 inadequate performance, immorality, insubordination, neglect of duty, physical or mental incapacity, habitual or excessive use of alcohol or nonmedical use of a controlled substance, felony conviction, advocating overthrow of the government, financial debt to the state and providing false information.
North Carolina Statute 115C-325
Specify that classroom ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal.
"Inadequate performance" is ambiguous at best and may be interpreted as concerning dereliction of duty rather than ineffectiveness. North Carolina 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, North Carolina must ensure that the opportunity to appeal occurs only once. 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. North Carolina should ensure that appeals related to classroom effectiveness are only decided by those with educational expertise.
North Carolina recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also noted that during the 2011-2012 school year, the State Board of Education will determine the consequences for teachers in all schools who receive unsatisfactory evaluations. Consequences will include licensure removal and dismissal. North Carolina's Race to the Top proposal contains a reference to this policy.