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 South Dakota, tenured teachers who are terminated may appeal multiple times. After receiving written notice of dismissal, the teacher may request a hearing, which must occur within 45 days after receipt of the teacher's request. This decision may then be appealed to the circuit court. The state does not specify a time frame for this appeal.
South Dakota 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 "breach of contract, poor performance, incompetency, gross immorality, unprofessional conduct, insubordination, neglect of duty, or the violation of any policy or regulation of the school district."
South Dakota Codified Laws 13-43-6.1; 13-43-6.2; 13-46-1
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. South Dakota 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, South Dakota 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. South Dakota should ensure that appeals related to classroom effectiveness are only decided by those with educational expertise.
South Dakota recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.