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 New Mexico, tenured teachers who are terminated have multiple opportunities to appeal. After receiving written notice of dismissal, the teacher has five days to request a hearing. The local superintendent then has five days to provide written reasons for the notice of termination, and the teacher has 10 days to respond. Within 15 days, the board must conduct a hearing, and it has another five days to issue a decision. The aggrieved teacher may then appeal to an arbitrator within five days. This appeal must "be held" within 30 days and the decision is final, but there is no time frame specified for the appeal's duration.
New Mexico 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 the state articulates vaguely as "just cause."
New Mexico Code 22-10A-24, -25
Specify that classroom ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal.
New Mexico 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. New Mexico should articulate policy that provides nonprobationary teachers an opportunity to appeal district decisions to terminate their contracts. 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 is 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. New Mexico should ensure that appeals related to classroom effectiveness are only decided by those with educational expertise.
New Mexico recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.