SB 441 – This act modifies tenure procedures for teachers statewide.
Current law allows local school districts 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 about the dismissal before an impartial hearing officer prior to a hearing before the board of education; however, the board of education would retain the authority to make the final decision as to whether the teacher is dismissed.
Boards of education or superintendents must notify teachers at least sixty days before formal notice is served, rather than the current thirty day notice requirement. If the teacher requests a preliminary hearing, the superintendent must contact the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, which must follow procedures described in the act for the selection of a hearing officer and for the hearing itself. The act directs the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission to promulgate rules for the hearings. The school district must pay the costs of the preliminary hearing, except for the teacher's counsel. The hearing will be open to the public unless the teacher requests that the hearing be closed.
If a teacher chooses to have a preliminary hearing before a hearing officer, the hearing officer must provide an advisory opinion as to whether the teacher should be dismissed within thirty days of the hearing. Within thirty days of the receipt of this opinion, the school board must provide notice to the teacher as to the board's intention.
If a school district suspends a teacher until a final decision is rendered, the teacher is entitled to receive salary and benefits during the suspension. Currently, teachers are only guaranteed salary. If the hearing 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 of education, which will be open to the public unless the teacher requests that it be closed. The record of the preliminary hearing shall be part of the records of the board meeting. The teacher may appeal the final decision of the school board to the circuit court of the county or city not within a county where the employing school district is located as described in the act.
This act repeals the current teacher tenure law for the St. Louis City School District and brings it under the same teacher tenure law as the rest of the state.
This act is similar to SB 1060 (2008), SB 561 (2007), SB 1088 (2006), and SB 118 (2005).