Performance-Based Dismissal of Tenured Teacher Upheld

By April 6, 2017 News No Comments

On March 17, 2017, an ISBE Hearing Officer upheld the Moline School District’s dismissal of a tenured teacher due to poor performance. The case involved an Adaptive PE teacher with over 20 years of experience who was observed to have deficiencies in a number of areas, some related to classroom teaching performance and planning and others related to recordkeeping, particularly recordkeeping for students with IEPs. After failing to demonstrate adequate improvement on a remediation plan, the teacher was dismissed. He challenged the dismissal by requesting a hearing before an ISBE Hearing Officer.

Despite numerous observations by multiple evaluators, all of whom shared at least some level of concern with the teacher’s performance, and summative and remediation plan evaluations that thoroughly documented the concerns, the District faced a number of challenges from the teacher. The teacher argued that the District had not given him a full 90 school days to remediate and had not provided a timely remediation plan evaluation, that the District had not proved his performance was inadequate, and that his evaluators were biased against him.

The hearing officer rejected the teacher’s procedural challenges, concluding that the District provided the full remediation period and that its evaluation was timely. The hearing officer also analyzed the District’s proof of the teacher’s poor performance. The hearing officer recognized that a teacher’s demonstration of some improvement during a remediation period does not necessarily mean he satisfactorily completed remediation, and the hearing officer concluded that the remediation plan summative evaluation was not “palpably arbitrary, unreasonable, or capricious” where the District’s evaluator had documented a number of ongoing deficiencies. Finally, the hearing officer rejected the teacher’s arguments about bias because the primary evaluator acknowledged and admitted the teacher’s improvements in certain areas, the remaining deficiencies were observed by multiple evaluators, and the teacher produced no evidence of animosity or disparate treatment by his evaluator.

The dismissal, successfully defended by HLERK’s Ellen Rothenberg and Jeff Goelitz (and the second successfully defended by HLERK attorneys in the last year) demonstrates, among other things, the importance of complying with timelines and remediation plan procedures, of using multiple unbiased evaluators who are even-handed in their observations, and of documenting objective deficiencies. 

For questions about the evaluation or remediation process or performance-based dismissals, contact Ellen Rothenberg or Jeff Goelitz.

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