Last time, we began looking at a lawsuit recently filed against the state of Minnesota challenging the legality of tenure law. The claim, we noted, is that tenure prevents school districts from providing the quality of education guaranteed under the constitution.
A recent commentary on the lawsuit highlights some important points about tenure, which may not be understood by those who casually hear or read about the case. First of all, tenure does provide employment protections to educators, but it is not guarantee employment. It doesn’t make teachers untouchable. What it does provide is due process, which includes the right to receive notice of potential termination and the right to have a hearing and defend against termination.
Due process can be seen as the right to be heard in response to action that threatens a teacher’s position, but it does not prevent school districts from taking any action against unfit teachers. School districts may seek termination of a teacher’s contract, provided established procedure is followed and they have adequate grounds for doing so. Under state law, these grounds include:
- insufficiency in teaching or managing a school;
- neglect of some duty or persistent violation of school laws, rules, regulations or directives;
- conduct which is “unbecoming a teaching” and which materially impairs the teacher’s educational effectiveness; or
- factors which make the teacher unfit to perform his or her duties.
School districts are also able to seek immediate termination of a teacher in some circumstances. We’ll look at this issue in our next post, and why it is important to work with a legal advocate in the hearing process.
Star Tribune, “Teacher tenure: What you need to know,” Mark Paige, April 19, 2016.
MN Statute 11A.40