The termination of tenured public school teachers for incompetence
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The purpose of this study was to review state and federal court cases from 1982 through February 1998 in which tenured public school teachers were terminated for incompetence. This study provided a current analysis of judicial opinions of teacher incompetence as a follow-up to Shackleford's (1982) study in which she reviewed state and federal termination cases from 1958 through 1981. Four research questions guided the study based on the examination of 107 court cases. The study provided a current judicial definition regarding the term "incompetency" and also provided a legal frame of reference from which one could imply teacher incompetence.
The following conclusions were derived from the analysis of court cases examined in this study.
1. The term "teacher incompetency" does not have a decisive judicial definition. Consequently, teachers may be terminated for multiple reasons of incompetency.
2. Courts have indicated that teachers should not be terminated for arbitrary or capricious reasons, but for just and reasonable cause.
3. The foremost purpose of teacher evaluation is remediation, not termination. Courts have indicated that teachers should be provided adequate time to 'find a solution to a problem.
4. Teachers must be provided adequate notice of the intent to terminate with a sufficiently detailed statement to inform the teacher of the allegations and charges so the teacher can prepare an adequate defense.
5. Teachers have a due process right to a fair hearing in which school officials must be able to exhibit a preponderance of evidence that the teacher is incompetent.
6. During hearings, teachers must be given an opportunity to crossexamine witnesses, testify, and present testimony of other witnesses and other relevant evidence.
7. A school board's termination of teachers for incompetence will not be sustained if a teacher's rights, guaranteed by the United States Constitution or state laws, are violated.
8. Teacher incompetency must be measured by the same standards required of others performing the same or similar duties.
- Doctoral Dissertations