Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Contract Battle Is Not Over!

On the teacher contract issue, HB 576 will soon be taken up by the Senate. Presumably it will go to the Public Education Subcommittee of Senate Education and Health.

We have a chance to kill the bill in subcommittee, but we need one Republican vote – Blevins, Black or Carrico.

If we can’t kill it in subcommittee, the next chance will be in the full committee. We need one Republican to keep the bill from advancing (Martin, Newman, Blevins, Smith, McWaters, Black, and Carrico).

If we can’t stop it there, it is back to the full Senate. Great pressure is being levied on Norment and Watkins, who helped us yesterday.

Please do all you can to generate calls and emails to your Senator urging opposition to HB 576.

We first learned that we would be in this battle this session when the Virginia Association of School Superintendents included term contracts, lengthening the probationary period, and changing the notification date for non-renewals from April 15th to June 15th. This is all spelled out on their 2011-2012 Legislative Issues.

They complain that it is too hard to fire a teacher. If a teacher is on continuing contract, a reason must be given. The teacher can appeal the dismissal to a panel. The panel reviews the facts and offers a recommendation to the School Board, and the final decision is made by the school board.

Now let’s look at what a school board has to do to fire a superintendent:

Virginia Code § 22.1-65. Punishment of division superintendents.
A division superintendent may be assessed a reasonable fine, suspended from office for a limited period or removed from office by either the Board of Education, upon recommendation of the Superintendent of Public Instruction or the school board of the division for sufficient cause. A division superintendent may appeal to the appropriate circuit court any decision of the Board of Education or school board to assess a fine against him or to suspend or remove him from office and shall be entitled to a trial de novo on such appeal of whether there was sufficient cause therefor.
(Code 1950, § 22-40; 1980, c. 559; 1990, c. 517.)

So, the teacher gets a hearing before a panel, and the school board makes the final decision. But, the superintendent gets a trial after the school board has ruled. I wonder if the superintendents should have opened this can of worms.