Saturday, April 08, 2006

Disciplined Teachers Online

When a teacher in Iowa gets a letter of reprimand, a copy is posted on the internet:
Letters of reprimand against Iowa teachers will continue to be public records — not only in teachers' state licensure files, but also on the Internet.

The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners reluctantly voted 7-3 Friday to abandon a proposed rule that would have made it more difficult for the public to know if a teacher was reprimanded more than five years ago. Friday's action was a reversal from the board's 5-2 vote in December to approve the rule.

"We are morphing away from this very quickly, just because a few legislators don't like it," said board member Brian Carter, a Mount Pleasant teacher. "I think our speed is premature."

The proposal would have allowed teachers to petition to have letters of reprimand removed from the board's Web site after five years.

Backers said they were concerned about years-old reprimands for minor contract violations tarnishing a teacher's record indefinitely. A little more than 100 letters of reprimand have been issued since 1974, including 55 for contract violations.

Board members acknowledged Friday that strong opposition by a panel of lawmakers meant the rule was doomed. "The game is lost," said Judy Jeffrey, the Iowa Department of Education's director.

As a compromise, Algona teacher John Aboud suggested adding dates on the Web site showing when letters of reprimand against teachers were issued. Administrators agreed that they would do that.
To use the actual database, one must input the teacher's last name and district.

I wonder how the State of Iowa safeguards a teacher's right to due-process?

In California, a teacher's personnel file is the property of the school district that employs him or her. And as such, the district can put into it whatever letters of reprimand (or praise) that it wishes.

As these files are for the exclusive use of the district, a teacher does generally not have the ability to have any negative letters removed or even modified. But under our district's collective bargaining agreement, a teacher disciplined for cause does have the right to attach (within 10 business days) a response to any disciplinary notice that has been placed in his or her file.

See our latest education-related entries right here.