The process for teacher discipline is typically an issue that occurs, the school administration decides to take action (this can be a write-up, suspension, or termination). If
We have all heard of due process and we all want it. So, you will be glad to hear that The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, like its counterpart in the Fifth Amendment, provides that no state may “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
This applies to public school districts and provides the minimum requirements that each public school district must satisfy when dismissing a teacher. This does not cover the reasons why a teacher may be dismissed, but the process a school must follow to dismiss a teacher.
Understanding disciplinary actions for educators
When any allegation enters into the disciplinary process, you need to be aware of your rights and what needs to happen.
Allegations will happen, whether they are true or false. Good representation from a lawyer will help make sure the evidence shows the conduct of the educator did not match the alleged misconduct.
We like to get involved as soon as possible. This best time is as soon as contact is made with the school that an educator might be disciplined. Literally, if a teacher you know has received a written reprimand, then they should contact a lawyer to discuss alleged misconduct and licensure issues.
Once an allegation is made, the educator may be investigated. Failure to address the seriousness of this stage may result in a revoked license.
We all know teachers work very hard to make education and students’ lives better. We want to make sure that educators’ position in the school is protected.
One is the most important steps in this process is to make sure the allegations are addressed properly and the investigation is conducted how it should be.
If a decision is made for the school to suspend or terminate an educator, they must send you the reasons in writing.
In this letter, they must also inform the teacher of the process to request a hearing on the issues.
What happens at the school board hearing over teachers’ misconduct?
The only issues that the school board can look at in the hearing over suspension or termination are the issues listed by the superintendent in the original letter to the teacher.
The point of this hearing is to determine if the school administration acted appropriately. Was there probable cause for the actions against the educator for the misconduct?
If the school board votes to suspend or terminate the teacher, the teacher can appeal and take the school board and district to Court.
Can I lose my teaching license during a disciplinary action?
Your license can only be revoked state Professional Licensure Standards Board (PLSB). The PLSB must follow its own rules. You can be represented by an attorney to ensure you are treated fairly. Any time there is an issue in front of a state board, representation is necessary.
Many times an attorney can help the teacher in the investigation stage and then the PLSB takes no action regarding the teacher’s license. We want you to be prepared for any disciplinary action.
We prefer to get involved as soon as the educator is aware of the alleged misconduct so we can be best prepared if the educator is facing issues with licensure. We want all the evidence stacked in the teacher’s favor.
Teachers work very hard to obtain the education and license to have their credentials as teachers. We do not want that education to be wasted if their license is revoked.
We want to start building the evidence and support for your side as soon as contact is made about the matter.
What about being paid for the work I do?
The school board has to act before you are suspended without pay. If you are suspended or terminated without written notice, please call a lawyer immediately.
As a teacher, can I get my job back if I am suspended or fired?
Yes. You are protected by a strong law. The law is called the Arkansas Teacher Fair Dismissal Act (TFDA). This law is designed to help teachers. The TFDA says that a teacher has to receive written notice of any nonrenewal, suspension, or termination.
A teacher may then request a hearing before the school board to get their job back. They can be represented by an attorney at this hearing or any disciplinary action.
Always remember, a license is on the line. Your education that was necessary to be able to do your job and help the students in your community is on the line.
Be prepared from first contact so that if you ever end up in front of a state board defending your licensure.
What if I am not a teacher, am I still protected?
Yes. The TFDA applies to all employees of a school district who must have a teaching license, but not superintendents and assistant superintendents.
The TFDA law protects principals, assistant principals, counselors, and specialist employees as well.
Should I hire an education-law attorney?
Yes. Chris Burks has represented many teachers in Teacher Fair Dismissal Act cases. He is trusted by the Arkansas State Teachers Association to represent their teachers. He also published articles on education law and trained other attorneys on education and state government law.
Chris knows the law well and knows how to make it work for you