Teacher Fair Dismissal Act

6-17-1501.  Title.

This subchapter shall be referred to and may be cited as “The Teacher Fair Dismissal Act of 1983”.

HISTORY: Acts 1983, No. 936, § 1; A.S.A. 1947, § 80-1266.

6-17-1502.  Definitions.

  (a) As used in this subchapter:

   (1)  (A)  “Probationary teacher” means a teacher who has not completed three (3) successive years of employment in the school district in which the teacher is currently employed.

      (B)   (i)  A teacher employed in a school district in this state for three (3) years shall be deemed to have completed the probationary period.

         (ii)  However, an employing school district may, by a majority vote of its directors, provide for one (1) additional year of probationary status; and

   (2) “Teacher” means any person, exclusive of the superintendent or assistant superintendent, employed in an Arkansas public school district who is required to hold a teaching license from the State Board of Education as a condition of employment.

(b) A teacher who has completed three (3) successive years of employment in the school district in which the teacher is employed on July 4, 1983, or a teacher who has been given credit for a prior service in another school district as authorized by subdivision (a)(2) of this section, is deemed to have completed the required probationary period.

 

HISTORY: Acts 1983, No. 936, §§ 2, 4; A.S.A. 1947, §§ 80-1266.1, 80-1266.3; Acts 2011, No. 989, § 55.

6-17-1503.  Construction.

  (a) The General Assembly finds:

   (1) That the current standard, which requires cause that is not arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory for the nonrenewal, termination, or suspension of a teacher, should be raised to a standard of just and reasonable cause; and

   (2) That the current standard for compliance with this subchapter and a school district’s personnel policies of strict compliance should be lowered to substantial compliance.

(b) This subchapter is not a teacher tenure law in that it does not confer lifetime appointment of teachers.

(c) A nonrenewal, termination, suspension, or other disciplinary action by a school district shall be void unless the school district substantially complies with all provisions of this subchapter and the school district’s applicable personnel policies.

 

HISTORY: Acts 1983, No. 936, § 3; A.S.A. 1947, § 80-1266.2; Acts 1989, No. 625, § 1; 2001, No. 1739, § 1.

6-17-1504.  Evaluation — Effect.

  (a) Each teacher employed by the board of directors of a school district shall be evaluated in writing under the Teacher Excellence and Support System, § 6-17-2801 et seq.

(b) At a time other than an evaluation conducted under the Teacher Excellence and Support System, if a superintendent or other school administrator charged with the supervision of a teacher believes or has reason to believe that the teacher is having difficulties or problems meeting the expectations of the school district or its administration and the administrator believes or has reason to believe that the problems could lead to termination or nonrenewal of contract, the superintendent or other school administrator shall:

   (1) In writing, bring the problems and difficulties to the attention of the teacher involved; and

   (2) Document the efforts that have been undertaken to assist the teacher to correct whatever appears to be the cause for potential termination or nonrenewal.

 

HISTORY: Acts 1983, No. 936, § 7; A.S.A. 1947, § 80-1266.6; Acts 2009, No. 376, § 33; 2011, No. 1209, § 7. 

6-17-1505.  Teacher personnel file.

  (a) The school district shall maintain a personnel file for each teacher which shall be available to the teacher for inspection and copying at the teacher’s expense during normal office hours.

(b) The teacher may submit for inclusion in the file written information in response to any of the material contained therein.

 

HISTORY: Acts 1983, No. 936, § 8; A.S.A. 1947, § 80-1266.7. 

6-17-1506.  Contract renewal — Notice of nonrenewal — Rescission.

  (a) Every contract of employment made between a teacher and the board of directors of a school district shall be renewed in writing on the same terms and for the same salary, unless increased or decreased by law, for the next school year succeeding the date of termination fixed therein, which renewal may be made by an endorsement on the existing contract instrument unless:

   (1) By May 1 of the contract year, the teacher is notified by the school superintendent that the superintendent is recommending that the teacher’s contract not be renewed;

   (2) During the period of the contract or within ten (10) calendar days after the end of the school year, the teacher shall send by certified or registered mail to the president, vice president, or secretary of the board of directors of the school district, with a copy to the superintendent, or may deliver in person to the president, vice president, or secretary of the board of directors of the school district, with a copy to the superintendent, his or her resignation as a teacher; or

   (3) The contract is superseded by another contract between the parties.

(b)  (1) Termination, nonrenewal, or suspension shall be only upon the recommendation of the superintendent.

   (2)  (A) A notice of nonrenewal shall be delivered in person to the teacher or mailed by registered or certified mail to the teacher at the teacher’s residence address as reflected in the teacher’s personnel file.

      (B) The notice of recommended nonrenewal of a teacher shall include a statement of the reasons for the recommendation, setting forth the reasons in separately numbered paragraphs so that a reasonable teacher can prepare a defense.

(c)  (1) No teacher shall be required to sign and return a contract for the next school year any sooner than thirty (30) days after the contract is issued to the teacher.

   (2) The teacher shall have the right to unilaterally rescind any signed contract no later than ten (10) days after the end of the school year.

 

HISTORY: Acts 1983, No. 936, § 4; A.S.A. 1947, § 80-1266.3; Acts 1997, No. 1247, § 1; 1999, No. 852, § 1.

6-17-1507.  Notice of termination recommendation.

  (a) A teacher may be terminated only during the term of any contract when there is a reduction in force created by districtwide reduction in licensed staff or for incompetent performance, conduct which materially interferes with the continued performance of the teacher’s duties, repeated or material neglect of duty, or other just and reasonable cause.

(b) The superintendent shall notify the teacher of the termination recommendation.

(c)  (1) The notice shall include a statement of the grounds for the recommendation of termination, setting forth the grounds in separately numbered paragraphs so that a reasonable teacher can prepare a defense.

   (2) The notice shall be delivered in person to the teacher or sent by registered or certified mail to the teacher at the teacher’s residence address as reflected in the teacher’s personnel file.

 

HISTORY: Acts 1983, No. 936, § 5; A.S.A. 1947, § 80-1266.4; Acts 1999, No. 852, § 2; 2001, No. 1739, § 2; 2011, No. 989, § 56.

6-17-1508.  Suspension.

  (a) Whenever a superintendent has reason to believe that cause exists for the termination of a teacher and that immediate suspension of the teacher is necessary, the superintendent may suspend the teacher without notice or a hearing.

(b) The superintendent shall notify the teacher in writing within two (2) school days of the suspension.

(c)  (1) The written notice shall include a statement of the grounds for suspension or recommended termination, setting forth the grounds in separately numbered paragraphs so that a reasonable teacher can prepare a defense.

   (2) The written notice shall be delivered in person to the teacher or sent by registered or certified mail to the teacher at the teacher’s residence address as reflected in the teacher’s personnel file and shall state that a hearing before the board of directors is available to the teacher upon request provided that the request is made in writing within the time provided in § 6-17-1509.

(d) The hearing shall be scheduled by the president, vice president, or secretary of the board of directors of a school district and the teacher and shall be held within the time and manner provided in § 6-17-1509 after a request for the hearing is received by the board of directors.

(e) If sufficient grounds for termination or suspension are found, the board of directors may terminate the teacher or continue the suspension for a definite period of time.

(f) The salary of a suspended teacher shall cease as of the date the board of directors sustains the suspension.

(g) If sufficient grounds for termination or suspension are not found, the teacher shall be reinstated without loss of compensation.

 

HISTORY: Acts 1983, No. 936, § 6; A.S.A. 1947, § 80-1266.5; Acts 1999, No. 852, § 3.

6-17-1509.  Hearing.

  (a) A teacher who receives a notice of recommended termination or nonrenewal may file a written request with the board of directors of the school district for a hearing.

(b) Written request for a hearing shall be sent by certified or registered mail to the president, vice president, or secretary of the board of directors of the school district, with a copy to the superintendent, or may be delivered in person by the teacher to the president, vice president, or secretary of the board of directors of the school district, with a copy to the superintendent, within thirty (30) calendar days after the written notice of proposed termination or nonrenewal is received by the teacher.

(c) Upon receipt of a request for a hearing, the board of directors shall grant a hearing in accordance with the following provisions:

   (1) The hearing shall take place at a time agreed upon in writing by the parties, but if no time can be agreed upon, then the hearing shall be held no fewer than five (5) calendar days nor more than twenty (20) calendar days after the written request has been received by the board of directors;

   (2)  (A) The hearing shall be private unless the teacher or the board of directors shall request that the hearing be public.

      (B) If the hearing is public, the parent or guardian of any student under eighteen (18) years of age who offers testimony may elect to have the student’s testimony offered in private;

   (3) The teacher and the board of directors may be represented by representatives of their choosing;

   (4) It shall not be necessary that a full record of the proceedings at the hearing be made and preserved unless:

      (A) The board of directors shall elect to make and preserve a record of the hearing at its own expense, in which event a copy shall be furnished the teacher, upon request, without cost to the teacher; or

      (B) A written request is filed with the board of directors by the teacher at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the time set for the hearing, in which event the board of directors shall make and preserve at its own expense a record of the hearing and shall furnish a transcript to the teacher without cost; and

   (5) The board of directors shall not consider at the hearing any new reasons which were not specified in the notices provided pursuant to this subchapter.

(d) Nothing in this section shall preclude a school district which has chosen to officially recognize in its policies an organization representing the majority of the teachers of the school district for the purpose of negotiating personnel policies, salaries, and educational matters of mutual concern under a written policy agreement from conducting a single nonrenewal hearing when all the school district’s teachers are recommended for nonrenewal provided that each teacher at such hearing shall be given an opportunity to make comments to be included in the hearing record.

 

HISTORY: Acts 1983, No. 936, § 9; A.S.A. 1947, § 80-1266.8; Acts 1999, No. 852, § 4; 1999, No. 1581, § 1; 2001, No. 551, § 1.

6-17-1510.  Board action on termination or nonrenewal — Appeal.

  (a)  (1)  Upon conclusion of its hearing with respect to the termination or nonrenewal of a contract of a teacher who has been employed as a full-time teacher by the school district for less than three (3) continuous years, the board of directors shall take action on the recommendations by the superintendent with respect to the termination or nonrenewal of such contract.

   (2)  The board of directors’ decision with regard to nonrenewal of a probationary teacher shall be final.

(b)  (1)  Any licensed teacher who has been employed continuously by the school district three (3) or more years or who may have achieved nonprobationary status pursuant to § 6-17-1502 may be terminated or the board of directors may refuse to renew the contract of the teacher only when there is a reduction in force created by districtwide reduction in licensed personnel, for incompetent performance, conduct which materially interferes with the continued performance of the teacher’s duties, repeated or material neglect of duty, or other just and reasonable cause.

   (2)  Upon completion of the hearing, the board of directors, within ten (10) days after the holding of the hearing, shall:

      (A)  Uphold the recommendation of the superintendent to terminate or not renew the teacher’s contract;

      (B)  Reject or modify the superintendent’s recommendation to terminate or not renew the teacher’s contract; or

      (C)   (i)  Vote to continue the contract of the teacher under such restrictions, limitations, or assurances as the board of directors may deem to be in the best interest of the school district.

         (ii)  The decision shall be reached by the board of directors within ten (10) days from the date of the hearing, and a copy shall be furnished in writing to the teacher involved, either by personally delivering it to the teacher or by addressing it to the teacher’s last known address by registered or certified mail.

(c) Subsequent to any hearing granted a teacher by this subchapter, the board of directors, by majority vote, shall make specific written conclusions with regard to the truth of each reason given the teacher in support of the recommended termination or nonrenewal.

(d)  (1)  The exclusive remedy for any nonprobationary teacher aggrieved by the decision made by the board of directors shall be an appeal therefrom to the circuit court of the county in which the school district is located, within seventy-five (75) days of the date of written notice of the action of the board of directors.

   (2)  Additional testimony and evidence may be introduced on appeal to show facts and circumstances showing that the termination or nonrenewal was lawful or unlawful.

 

HISTORY: Acts 1983, No. 936, § 10; A.S.A. 1947, § 80-1266.9; Acts 2001, No. 1739, § 3; 2011, No. 989, § 57.