Retaining Effective 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. This goal remains unchanged in 2021.
Link to Ineffectiveness: New York teachers can be dismissed for incompetency through a streamlined process if they receive a rating of ineffective for two or more years in a row.
Due Process Distinction: New York distinguishes the due process rights of teachers dismissed for ineffective performance as determined by annual performance evaluations from those facing other charges commonly associated with license revocation, such as felony and/or morality violations. Teachers who receive a rating of ineffective on their annual evaluations for two or more years in a row may be dismissed through a streamlined hearing.
Appeals Process: New York requires that, upon receiving written notice of dismissal, a teacher has 10 days to file a request for a hearing by a single hearing officer. New York now specifies that for teachers who have received two consecutive ineffective ratings, the process must not take longer than 90 days from the date the teacher requests a hearing to the final hearing date. For teachers who have received three consecutive ineffective ratings, that timeline must not be longer than 30 days.
Laws of New York 3012-c; 3020-b; 3020-a
As a result of New York's strong dismissal policies, no recommendations are provided.
New York recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
States need to be explicit that teacher ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal.
Most states have laws on their books that address teacher dismissal; however, until recently these laws were much more likely to consider criminal and moral violations than performance. While many states have amended their dismissal policy to be more explicit about classroom ineffectiveness, some still retain euphemistic terms such as "incompetency," "inefficiency," or "incapacity." These terms are ambiguous at best and may be interpreted as concerning dereliction of duty rather than ineffectiveness. Without laws that clearly state that teacher ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal, districts may feel they lack the legal basis for terminating consistently poor performers.
Due process must be efficient and expedited. Non-probationary teachers who are dismissed for any grounds, including ineffectiveness, are entitled to due process. However, due process rights that allow for multiple levels of appeal are not fair to teachers, districts and especially students. All parties have a right to have disputes settled quickly. Cases that drag on for years drain resources from school districts and create a disincentive for districts to attempt to terminate teachers for poor performance. Teachers are not well served by such processes either, as they are entitled to final resolution quickly.
Decisions about teachers should be made by those with educational expertise.
Multiple levels of appeal almost invariably involve courts or arbitrators who lack educational expertise. It is not in students' best interest to have the evidence of teachers' effectiveness evaluated by those who are not educators. A teacher's opportunity to appeal should occur at the district level and involve only those with educational expertise. This can be done in a manner that is fair to all parties by including retired teachers or other knowledgeable individuals who are not current district employees.