SB 561 - Current law permits local school boards to dismiss tenured teachers for certain causes after following certain administrative procedures. This act amends such procedures to allow teachers the right to request a preliminary hearing before an impartial hearing officer concerning the dismissal; however, the board would retain the authority to make the final decision as to whether or not the teacher is dismissed.
The act requires school boards or superintendents to notify
teachers at least sixty days before formal notice is served, instead of the current thirty day notice requirement. Should the teacher request a preliminary hearing, the superintendent is required to contact the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, and the act delineates a procedure for the selection of a hearing officer and for the hearing itself. Further, the act directs the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission to promulgate rules for the hearings. The act specifies that the school district must pay the costs pertaining to the preliminary hearing, except for the teacher's council. The act specifies that the hearing will be open to the public unless the teacher requests that the hearing be closed.
Should a school board suspend a teacher until a decision is rendered, that teacher is entitled to receive salary and benefits during the suspension. Currently, teachers are only guaranteed salary.
Within 30 days after the hearing, the hearing officer must present an advisory opinion. Within thirty days of the receipt of this opinion, the school board shall provide notice to the teacher as to the board's intention. If the officer's opinion is in favor of dismissal, the teacher's benefits and salary may be suspended, however, such benefits will be repaid if the board reverses the decision of the hearing officer.
After the preliminary hearing, the teacher is entitled to a hearing before the board, which will be open to the public unless the teacher requests that the hearing be closed. The record of the preliminary hearing shall be part of the record of the board meeting. The board's decision is final, provided that current law allows such decisions to be appealed to Circuit court.
This act repeals the current tenure law for the St. Louis school district and brings the district within the tenure system for the rest of the state.
This act is similar to SB 118 (2005) and SB 1088 (2006).