How to fire a teacher

How to fire a teacher

While many theories have been contemplated about how to raise the bar on the standard of education in this country, one factor appears to be untouched – the quality of the teachers in public schools today. Why the lack of accountability for these professionals entrusted with the future of our country? Tenure seems to be the primary answer. Teachers that achieve tenure are difficult to fire, no matter what offenses they may practice in the classroom.

Teachers Dismissed for Poor Performance

One reason teachers simply don't get fired is the power of the unions that back them. These organizations were originally designed to protect good teachers from favoritism and nepotism by school principals. However, the process has evolved into one where tenured teachers get armor-clad protection for their positions, no matter how inept they have proven themselves to be in the classroom.

Because public education does not work like the rest of the free market, parents are not able to hold schools accountable for poor teaching by simply moving Johnnie and Betty down the street to another institution. Unfortunately, the public education system is also set up to keep children in failing schools, simply because there is nowhere else for them to go, and principals' hands are tied from holding their own staff to a teaching standard.

How to fire a teacher

Texas middle school student suffers burns during classroom science experiment

A Texas teacher is under criminal investigation after putting hand sanitizer on a 12-year-old boy’s hands and lighting them on fire as part of a science experiment, according to police.

Granbury Police Lt. Russell Grizzard told TODAY Parents that the incident on April 1 at Granbury Middle School left a student with “possible third degree burns on his hands.”

Grizzard noted that the experiment had “reportedly been done multiple times throughout the day” without any issues.

“It looks like every class that day had a group of students that volunteer to do it,” Grizzard told NBC affiliate KXAS. “There was also another classroom that was doing the same thing where there was no incident.

The educator, a 37-year-old female, has since resigned, according to a statement that was posted to the school district’s Twitter account on Tuesday.

The child’s father posted photos of his son’s injuries on Facebook and wrote that he received treatment at the Parkland Burn Center. A hospital spokesperson told TODAY that he has been discharged.

“Hand sanitizers with high concentrations of ethanol and hydroxypropyl are flammable,” Dr. Anthony Pizon, chief of medical toxicology at UPMC in Pittsburgh, previously told TODAY. “Any amount of hand sanitizer can light on fire. The volume controls how rapidly the flame will spread. If you have a little bit on your hands, a little bit will light on fire.”

As hand sanitizer dries, it evaporates into gas, which can also catch fire. That’s why Pizon recommends that people avoid lighters, matches and fires after using hand sanitizer.

“You should make sure your hands are completely dry before you light a match,” he said.

Pizon noted that people should store hand sanitizer away from any type of open flame, including stoves, fire pits and candles.

GRANBURY, Texas — A Texas middle school teacher has resigned after a student was burned when she put hand sanitizer on his hands and lit them on fire.

Granbury police said they responded to Granbury Middle School following a report that a student had been burned on campus. Police said the 37-year-old teacher lit the hand sanitizer on fire as part of a science experiment.

“This had reportedly been done multiple times throughout the day with other students without incident, but the student in question suffered possible 3 rd- degree burns on his hands,” said police.

Granbury ISD said in a statement that the teacher is no longer an employee of the school district following the student’s injury.

“The incident is under investigation and will be submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for review,” said police.

Granbury is located about 30 miles southwest of Fort Worth and 84 miles northwest of Waco.

A GMS teacher has resigned and is no longer an employee of the school district. This follows a student injury on Friday during a science class experiment. Campus officials have turned this matter over to law enforcement/proper authorities for further investigation.

— Granbury ISD (@granburyisd) April 5, 2022

Most school administrators would be shocked to learn that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) could, in some circumstances, find that their school engaged in an unfair labor practice for disciplining or terminating an employee who criticizes management. A recent New York case provides a perfect example. 

Teacher Blasts School Head; Teacher Gets Fired
The trouble began when the Dalton School, an Upper East Side Manhattan private K-12 academy, staged a musical theatre production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” The musical comedy depicts Chinese characters in ways some consider offensive to Asian Americans. The school administrators required the theatre department faculty to rewrite portions of the script and dialogue. 

Although the production was successful, bad feelings remained among some in the faculty who believed their efforts were not appreciated and that they were unfairly blamed for the controversy. In addition, faculty members complained about restrictions placed on them as to what could be said to parents who asked questions about the show.  

In an email chain circulated among faculty members, one teacher criticized the Head of School, accusing her of lying and of failing to be “honest, forthright, upstanding, moral, considerate, much less intelligent or wise.” When the administration learned of the emails, it questioned the teacher and then terminated his employment. The teacher filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB. 

Yes, You Are Covered By The NLRA
What the Dalton School might not have realized is that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) provides that all employees, not just unionized workers, have a legal right to engage in “concerted activities” for the purpose of mutual aid or protection. This essentially covers any activity engaged in by two or more employees aimed at addressing employee working conditions. The right has been construed to permit all employees to criticize managers over employment issues of common concern, not just those protected by a union. Employers who discipline for such criticism are deemed to “interfere with, restrain or coerce” employees in the exercise of their rights.    

Judge Reinstates Teacher
The administrative law judge ruled that the email exchange among the faculty was concerted activity protected by the NLRA because it was a “discussion amongst employees in the theater department as to how to address their concerns regarding” the manner in which the play was handled. The judge ruled that the teacher could not legally be disciplined for exercising his protected rights. The judge also ruled that the school committed an additional violation by interrogating the teacher in connection with his protected activity. 

The judge ordered the school to reinstate the teacher, pay him back pay accruing from the date of termination, remove the firing from the school’s records, and refrain from interrogating employees about concerted activity.

What’s Happened To Private Employer Rights?
The NLRB has targeted all segments of nonunion employers who discipline employees for complaining to coworkers about management.  Seemingly reasonable rules of civility, confidentiality, and nondisparagement that previously escaped NLRB scrutiny are now deemed unlawful. Although this case involved email, other NLRB decisions hold that social media and other forms of communication have similar protection. 

The line separating lawful discipline from unlawful interference with protected activity is ill-defined and often counterintuitive. Personal gripes are unprotected, but gripes that express the thoughts of a group or seek support from others are “concerted” and therefore protected, often to the surprise of employers unschooled in NLRB law. Any decision to discipline an employee for communication critical of the school administration should be reviewed by your school’s education or labor counsel for NLRA compliance. 

Profiling agents of growth and transformation in K-12 education.

Why I LOVE the Kindle Reading Experience

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Spoiler: it’s all about the storage and curation of HIGHLIGHTS from my reading! Here’s how it works.

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We Need to Use Our Own Brains

When we own our problems and our learning, brain development follows.

“How do I do this?”

“What should I do next?”

These are the calls for help that every teacher who has spent time in a classroom has heard.

And our typical response? We hurry over to these distress calls and do our best to help. Because that’s who we are, and that’s what we do.

We support learning. We provide solutions. We teach.

Then we hear another call, and another. And we help again.

What Mental Habits Are We Reinforcing?

My wife is a master of administration. She’s the kind of person who uses her Google Calendar partly as planner, partly as to-do list, partly as journal. I’m sure Google Calendar is one of her most-used apps, because she’s constantly creating and editing events, adding phone numbers and to-do lists to event info, deleting events that didn’t materialize, and making sure the timeline of her day matches her actual day.

If it’s not in her calendar, it doesn’t exist. It’s pretty impressive.

I learned this quickly about her in our early years. And because I knew that she kept an eagle eye on her calendar, it became easy to ask her for details on upcoming events.

  • “Hey, what time is the banquet on Saturday?”
  • “Where is that restaurant again?”
  • “Are you free on Thursday night?”

All in her Google Calendar, which she had shared with me. And I knew that. But it was still oh-so-tempting to just ask her or text her for the answer. Because she’s super smart.

And because it was way easier for me to use her brain than my own.

Often, she would cheerfully check her own phone and give me the answer I was looking for. And frankly, she still does. She’s a generous woman.

We love our work dates. Usually she studies and I create content.

But at some point, she also had the courage to have a loving conversation with me. Basically, her message boiled down to this.

Baby, you can either keep using my brain to get the answers you’re looking for, or you can use your own.

You see, up to that point, I hadn’t really been using Google Calendar. Sure, I looked at it once in a while. I even added a few things to it. But I wasn’t really using it to plot out my day. And I certainly wasn’t consulting it for event information.

She pointed out that by always looking up the answers to my questions, she was actually encouraging me not to go to the source.

She was teaching me to use her brain instead of my own.

All Learners Need to Learn to Use Their Own Brains

As teachers, we love to help kids. Helping students learn, develop their skills, and find solutions gives us some of the warmest and most affirming moments in the profession.

And there’s no denying that a lot of this learning, especially in K-4, happens in real time. These youngsters need more hands-on support. More assurance. More coaching.

But especially as students move into middle and high school, they need to gradually build the skills and confidence associated with learning how to learn. Using their own brains.

There’s a tried and true rule that I’ve seen around education for some time called Ask 3 Before Me. The idea is that whenever students get stuck with a problem that they can’t solve, they should check at least three lifelines before going to the teacher.

Ask a friend. Google it. Check YouTube.

Sometimes I’ve wondered if there are educators who see this sort of thing as a cop-out. I mean, aren’t we paid to help students when they’re stuck? Isn’t that our job?

I don’t think it is a cop-out. I think it’s about loving kids enough to empower them. It’s about teaching them how to fish instead of just tossing them more fish.

And in the remote learning environment, I’m at least an instant message away from support. There’s never been a better time for students to learn how to learn. To use their own brains.

Educators Need to Learn How to Learn, Too

March of 2020 flipped K-12 education on its head, and remote learning sent educators scrambling. The move from the brick and mortar classroom to the online environment was a transition that could have taken weeks or months to prepare for, but most schools pulled it off in a week. Or less.

It was a time of high anxiety for a lot of educators, and still is. The remote and hybrid learning environments are foreign landscapes. We have a lot of questions about tools that facilitate growth in this context. Tools that we’re not always familiar with.

How to fire a teacherSource:

As tech tools proliferate, the IT department at my school has been generous: send us a ticket about any question or problem. We’re here to support.

And they have been amazing. I’m sure that IT departments at other schools and districts have taken a similar stance.

But this is also a great opportunity for classroom teachers to learn how to learn on their own. To listen to their PLN. To do some digging on Google. To watch tutorials on YouTube. To participate in the plethora of free webinars currently available.

“I’m not a tech person” isn’t a thing.

We’re ALL tech people. We’re ALL on a journey of learning right now.

And now, more than ever, we need to learn how to learn. We need to take ownership of our professional learning journeys. We need to teach ourselves what we need to know.

Our growth won’t happen in a straight line. But we’ll get there. And that journey will build new confidence. We will be empowered.

And the best part? We’ll be able to model courageous learning for our students.

How to fire a teacher

The seven lessons included in this teacher’s guide provide you with dozens of teacher-written, classroom-tested activities that will prepare your students to receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Each lesson includes full-color sacred art, background readings, student homework, games, role-plays, and assessment tools that will empower young people — like the Apostles — to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and make disciples of all the nations.

The veteran schoolteachers who wrote the lessons included here know firsthand your needs in the classroom. That’s why these lessons can stand alone, are “substitute-proof,” and are designed in a flexible, modular format. Even the layflat binding makes it easy for you to photocopy handouts and activities.

Although these lessons are written with sixth- and fifth-grade classrooms in mind, all educators can use the lessons’ modular format to adapt them for use in parishes, classrooms, and homes with older or younger children. Lessons in this guide include:

  • Using Sophia SketchPad to Teach about Confirmation
  • Exploring the Sacrament of Confirmation with Sacred Art
  • The Sacrament of Confirmation in Salvation History
  • The Celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation
  • The Effects of the Sacrament of Confirmation
  • Living the Sacrament of Confirmation
  • The Fruits of the Spirit and Capital Sins

All pre-lesson activities, handouts, readings, and a complete answer key are included. You can begin using this resource in your classroom today!

It’s unsurprising that the Tribune would spin this to make it look as bad as possible. The paragraph at the top of the chart describes the process of firing a bad teacher as “a legal process so cumbersome, so tangled in red tape, that many public school principals don’t even try.”

Charts such as this one are misleading for a number of reasons.

First, this chart only applies to tenured teachers. Bad teachers can be weeded out much quicker before gaining tenure. School officials need to use this time window appropriately.

Second, the point of tenure is to protect teachers from arbitrarily being fired. Teachers need protection from over-zealous bosses and ideological politicians. This is the same thinking behind seniority rules, which protect more expensive teachers (i.e. veterans) from being laid off due to budget cuts. Teaching is not a high-paying job compared to jobs in the private sector, and one of the benefits is some job security. Occasionally this means bad teachers take longer to fire.

But the answer to that problem is not making all teachers easier to fire. This would undermine teacher recruitment. If you take away pensions, job security, tenure, the ability to unionize, and basically all the other perks of teaching, what you’re left with is a very difficult job with no job security, mediocre benefits, and relatively low pay. This is not how you attract good people to a profession, or how you guarantee a good education experience for your children. Paying starting teachers more but making their long-term prospects in the career less certain is also wrong-headed. High turnover is not desirable for any business, teaching included.

Third, the chart claims that it take 2-5 years to fire a bad teacher. This is true, but also misleading. The process requires one year of remediation. Is anyone suggesting that a remedial period is unwarranted? Many private sector jobs require similar remedial steps for ‘unsatisfactory’ employees. These steps take longer and are more complicated as the job in question becomes more difficult to assess. Successful teaching is very difficult to assess.

Then there are a series of hearings. This is the due process period put in place to ensure that the actual reasons behind firing the teacher are legitimate. Is the Tribune suggesting that there should be no hearing process at all? Even then, the hearings only take place if the teacher requests them. Many teachers will not put up this much of a fight, but some do.

The hearings take about ten months. Much of this time is spent filing paperwork, setting dates, and so forth. At the end of the ten months, if the School board agrees with the dismissal, the teacher is fired. That’s just under two years, most of which was spent attempting to boost the teacher’s performance. So in just under two years a teacher can be fired. However…

…at this point the teacher can file an appeal in court. This is where the Tribune is getting the vast bulk of time for its 2-5 years estimate. Again, any citizen who loses their job as the right to take this up in court. That there is a procedure outlined for teachers to do this is completely meaningless. Of course a teacher can file for wrongful dismissal in court. So can you if you are fired. This process can take years if you want to drag it out long enough, through appellate courts and a long and exhausting appeals process.

For those criticizing this process, would you deny Francisco Mendoza the right to appeal his termination? Mendoza was a 25-year veteran of the Chicago public schools, widely acknowledged as an excellent teacher. He took sick leave when he was diagnosed with cancer, and when he returned home he found a termination letter. Apparently the year of remedial work was overlooked in this case. Indeed, for every anecdote of bad teachers not getting fired, we can find others to show how excellent teachers were fired.

And if all that isn’t enough, a tiny bit of digging reveals that Chicago school district officials laid off 1300 teachers in 2010, including some tenured teachers who were recognized nationally for their quality – without any due process at all.

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How to fire a teacher

A Granbury Middle School teacher in Texas resigned after one of her students sustained third-degree burns in a science experiment gone wrong. Getty Images/iStockphoto

A 12-year-old Texas student ended up with third-degree burns in a science class experiment gone wrong that ended with the reacher’s resignation, says the school district.

“A [Granbury Middle School] teacher has resigned and is no longer an employee of the school district. This follows a student injury on Friday during a science class experiment,” the district tweeted.

The online statement goes on to say the case has been turned over to law enforcement for investigation.

A Granbury Middle School student was injured on Friday after attempting to copy a demonstration shown in science class. The student is receiving medical care, and campus officials are cooperating with the city fire inspector/investigator.

— Granbury ISD (@granburyisd) April 1, 2022

A GMS teacher has resigned and is no longer an employee of the school district. This follows a student injury on Friday during a science class experiment. Campus officials have turned this matter over to law enforcement/proper authorities for further investigation.

— Granbury ISD (@granburyisd) April 5, 2022

As part of the science experiment, the 37-year-old teacher put hand sanitizer on the student’s hand and set it on fire, the Granbury Police Department told the Fort Worth Start Telegram.

“This had reportedly been done multiple times throughout the day with other students without incident, but the student in question suffered possible 3rd-degree burns on his hands. The incident is under investigation and will be submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for review,” Granbury Lt. Russell Grizzard told the Star Telegram.

In a previous tweet, the school district announced a student had been hurt during a science experiment and was treated by medical staff.

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Hays Consolidated Independent School District Board voted Tuesday to fire a teacher who is accused of inappropriately touching students.

The board called for a special meeting to begin the “termination process” for Andrew Hanson Palmore. The board voted 7-0 to fire Palmore.

In regard to the firing process, Hays CISD said after the board vote, a teacher can request a hearing within 15 days. If a teacher doesn’t request a hearing within that time frame, the board can then vote to make the termination final.

Kyle Police arrested Palmore, 49, on March 1 on accusations he inappropriately touched at least two children.

Palmore faces two counts of indecency with a child and two counts of improper relationship between an educator and student.

According to an arrest affidavit, Palmore admitted during an interview with police on Feb. 28 he inappropriately touched at least one victim “for his own gratification and desires.”

The affidavit said one of the instances happened at Palmore’s home in Kyle during a sleepover, and the other happened at a park in San Marcos.

Palmore taught second grade at Blanco Vista Elementary in San Marcos but had also previously taught at Austin, Bastrop and Del Valle ISDs.

The Texas Education Agency said there had been no previous investigations nor had it received any reports of misconduct for Palmore.

Palmore was accused of inappropriately touching a student in 2020 and was placed on leave. The investigation, according to HCISD, did not result in any charges.