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 York, tenured teachers can be dismissed for incompetency, which new legislation defines as a "pattern of ineffective teaching."
The state's new legislation also 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 with a "pattern of ineffective teaching or performance," defined as two consecutive annual ineffective ratings, have an expedited hearing. Upon receiving written notice of the dismissal, a teacher has 10 days to file a request for a hearing. Once the hearing officer is selected, a prehearing conference is held within 15 days. An expedited hearing will take place within seven days of the pre-hearing conference and must be completed within 60 days. A decision is issued within 10 days of the hearing's conclusion.
In New York, all tenured teachers who are terminated have multiple opportunities to appeal. The teacher may appeal the hearing officer's decision to the state supreme court within 10 days of the decision. In addition, a teacher may contest his or her annual performance evaluation rating by appealing to the school district or Board of Cooperative Educational Services. The state does not specify a time frame for the appeal, leaving the process to be negotiated locally.
Laws of New York 3012-c; 3020; 3020-a
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 York 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.
New York provided NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.