A study of tenured teacher dismissals in Virginia, 1987-1990

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Virginia Tech


The teacher dismissal process is of critical importance to educators involved in both administrative and teaching positions. The legal prerequisites, opinions, and cases have been frequently reviewed and presented in countless studies. This study was designed to examine the dismissal process from the perspective(s) of the participants involved in the procedure. The study investigated the question: Do commonalities exist surrounding the circumstances and personalities involved in teacher dismissal proceedings during the school years 1987-88, 1988-89, or 1989-90? The study consists of ten field studies randomly selected from Virginia school divisions indicating a teacher dismissal during the period school years 1987-90.

Field interviews were conducted to develop each of the ten case studies. The data were analyzed in two ways. First, like job participants were compared across case studies to identify commonalities during their involvement in the teacher dismissal process. Secondly, a profile of these commonalities was developed to show a typical pattern of circumstances and personalities involved in the teacher dismissal process.

The study revealed that eight of the ten cases were based on issues outside of classroom instructional problems. Six of the ten teachers facing dismissal were ethnic minorities. Nine of the ten superintendents and all ten of the principals in the study did not hire the teacher facing dismissal in the cases. Finally, none of the teachers facing dismissal in the case studies was an active participant in a plan for improvement or a work plan.