WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers adopted a template today for fairly and expeditiously addressing the rare but serious issue of teacher misconduct, which states can use when enacting or implementing their own policies.
“It is a false choice to contend, as many are doing, that the current lengthy, cumbersome process of dealing with teacher wrongdoing accusations necessitates eliminating due process. The framework we adopted today is a responsible and responsive way of dealing with these types of allegations,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.
The AFT asked Kenneth Feinberg in January 2010 to develop a fair, transparent and quick procedure for addressing accusations of teacher wrongdoing. Last month, he made public his independent recommendations and today, the AFT Executive Council approved them. The framework keeps due process intact in a specific process that would take no more than 100 days from the time a teacher is charged.
“We need to reform due process by moving from a glacial process for handling teacher misconduct accusations to one that’s both fair and fast. Students need to be safe and protected from teachers who don’t belong in the classroom, and teachers need to be protected from false allegations that ruin a teacher’s career,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.
The plan requires schools districts to lay out explicit charges and create a structure that would lead to a final resolution within 100 days. Weingarten said these procedures complement AFT’s ongoing work to improve teacher quality and student learning, including designing a teacher development and evaluation model that more than 100 school districts are now utilizing.
The framework identifies nine specific categories of wrongdoing and lays out a precise, rational and easy-to-understand process for handling them. The proposal balances fairness and speed, protects teachers and students, and allows a range of sanctions depending on the seriousness of the findings. It establishes screening process so that claims that have no merit can be dismissed within 14 days, a path for claims that have merit to be resolved informally within 20 days, and ensures that, if a formal hearing is necessary, the final judgment will be made within 100 days.
“The AFT is committed to solving problems, even if they at times force us to get out of our comfort zones,” Weingarten said. She noted that since education is so much more a state than a national prerogative, there undoubtedly will be differences in the way this framework would be enacted or implemented in states.
The Feinberg report summary: http://www.aft.org/pdfs/press/finalfeinbergsummary.pdf