| Teacher Termination Procedure |
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OLR Research Report
The Connecticut General Assembly
OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH
May 6, 1997 94-R-0668
FROM: D'Ann Mazzocca, Principal Analyst
RE: Teacher Termination Procedure
You asked for a summary of the procedure required to terminate the employment of a public school teacher, including differences for tenured and nontenured teachers.
The teacher termination process is established by state law (CGS § 10-151). Under the law, teachers hired before July 1, 1996 who have taught continuously and full-time in the same school system for at least 30 months (three school years), and those hired since then who have taught for at least 40 months (four school years), must have their contracts automatically renewed every year thereafter unless the board of education eliminates their position or gives a specific cause for terminating them. Such teachers have tenure. Teachers with less than 30 or 40 months' experience, respectively, are not tenured. Their contracts are subject to nonrenewal without prior explanation as long they are notified before April 1. If a school board wishes to dismiss a tenured or nontenured teacher it must grant explicit due process rights and follow the termination procedures and timetables specified in state law. Under the law, boards must state their reasons for dismissing a teacher if asked, and they may do so only for specifically enumerated reasons. Teachers have a right to a hearing before the board or an impartial panel at which they may be present and represented by counsel. Tenured teachers terminated for any reason and nontenured teachers terminated for specified reasons may appeal their dismissals to court.
TEACHER FAIR DISMISSAL LAW
Connecticut law gives all teachers below the rank of superintendent certain protections related to termination but it makes a distinction between tenured and nontenured teachers. Teachers receive tenure once they have taught full-time for the same school system for 30 or 40 continuous school months, depending on whether they were hired before July 1, 1996.
Reasons for Dismissal
Under the law, a tenured teacher may be dismissed only for the following reasons:
1. inefficiency or incompetence;
2. insubordination against reasonable board of education rules;
3. moral misconduct;
4. disability proven by medical evidence;
5. elimination of the position to which the teacher was appointed or loss of a position to another teacher, as long as there is no other position for which the teacher is qualified and subject to the applicable provisions of a collective bargaining agreement or school board policy; or
6. other due and sufficient cause.
During their first three or four years of teaching, before they become tenured, teachers can also be notified in writing by April 1 of each school year that their contracts will not be renewed for the coming year. The board does not have to specify any reason for nonrenewal unless the teacher files a written request for the reason. If the teacher makes such a request, the board must supply a reason within seven days.
Dismissal Process and Timetable - Tenured Teachers
School boards must follow a specific statutory process when dismissing both tenured and nontenured teachers. The statutory dismissal process and timetable for tenured teachers is as follows:
Teacher Termination Timetable
School board notifies teacher in writing that it is considering termination.
Teacher files written request asking the board to state its reasons.
Seven days after teacher receives notice of potential termination.
Board notifies teacher inwriting of reasons.
Seven days after board receives request.
Teacher files written request for a hearing.
Within 20 days after teacher receives termination notice.
The board may hear the case itself or may designate a subcommittee of three or more board members to hear the case. The board may convene an impartial hearing panel, if the teacher requests it or the board designates one. The parties may also agree to a hearing before an impartial hearing officer chosen by both parties. If the parties cannot agree on a hearing officer within five days after they decide to use one, the hearing must be held before either the board or a hearing panel. The hearing panel consists of three members, one chosen by the teacher, one by the superintendent, and a chairman chosen by these two members. If they do not agree on the third panel member within five days of agreeing to use a panel, the third is selected with the help of the American Arbitration Association using its expedited selection process. If this does not happen within five days, the hearing is held before the board or its subcommittee.
Hearings begin. Hearings may be public at the teacher's request or if designated by the board, subcommittee, hearing officer, or panel. The teacher may appear and be represented by counsel.
Within 15 days after the board receives the hearing request. The parties may mutually agree to extend this deadline by up to 15 more days.
Board subcommittee, panel, or hearing officer submits written findings and recommendations to the full board concerning the case and sends a copy to the teacher.
Within 75 days after the hearing request unless the parties agree to an extension of up to 15 days.
Board gives teacher its written decision.
Within 15 days of receiving the recommendations. If the hearing takes place before the full board, within 15 days after the close of the hearings.
Board furnishes a copy of the hearing transcript if the teacher requests one in writing within 15 days and pays the cost.
Within 15 days of the decision.
Teacher may appeal board's decision to Superior Court.
Within 30 days after the decision.
Despite the foregoing requirements, the law gives a school board the right to suspend a teacher from duty immediately and without prejudice when serious misconduct is charged.
Dismissal Process for Nontenured Teachers
Nontenured teachers have many of the same termination rights under the law as tenured teachers. But they can also be dismissed by nonrenewal of their contracts if they are notified by April 1. If a teacher files a written request, the board must supplement the nonrenewal notice with a written statement of its reasons for nonrenewal within seven days of receiving the request.
Nontenured teachers may also be “bumped” by tenured teachers whose positions are eliminated. Bumping must occur in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement or, if there is none, with a written policy of the board.
Like a tenured teacher, a nontenured teacher has 20 days after receiving notice of nonrenewal or termination to file a written request for a hearing either before the board or, if the hearing request specifies it and the board designates, an impartial hearing panel appointed as described above. The board may also appoint a subcommittee to hear the case and submit findings and recommendations to the full board.
As with tenured teachers, the hearing must begin within 15 days of the request unless the parties agree to an extension and must be conducted in the same way. Nontenured teachers are not allowed to appeal board decisions on nonrenewal, inefficiency or incompetence, insubordination, elimination of position, loss of position to another teacher, or termination for other due and sufficient cause to Superior Court. They may appeal board dismissals only for moral misconduct, or disability.
If a teacher appeals a dismissal to Superior Court, the court must treat it as a privileged case and hear it as soon as practicable. The board must file the hearing transcript, its relevant meeting minutes including its vote, and other relevant documents with the court. The court must review the record and allow the parties to introduce new evidence if equitable disposition of the case requires it. The court may affirm or reverse the board's decision but is not allowed to assess costs against the board unless it finds the board acted with gross negligence, malice, or bad faith.