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 Virginia, tenured teachers who are terminated have at least one opportunity to appeal. After receiving written notice of dismissal, the teacher may—within 15 days—request a hearing, which must take place within 30 days. The decision must then be rendered within 30 days. The teacher may file an additional appeal with the appellate court within 10 days.
Virginia 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 "incompetency, immorality, noncompliance with school laws and regulations, disability as shown by competent medical evidence when in compliance with federal law, conviction of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude or other good and just cause."
In addition, "incompetency may be construed to include, but shall not be limited to, consistent failure to meet the endorsement requirements for the position or performance that is documented through evaluation to be consistently less than satisfactory."
Virginia Code 22.1-307; 309; 311; 313; 314
Specify that classroom ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal.
Rather than providing a possible definition for incompetence, Virginia 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, Virginia 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. Virginia should ensure that appeals related to classroom effectiveness are only decided by those with educational expertise.
Virginia referred NCTQ to its grievance procedure and asserted that its "Licensure Regulations for School Personnel" sets forth the requirements for the revocation of licenses. The state added that there is a separate process for actions against a teaching license.