Board terminates teacher's contract mid-year for failure to… | TCTA
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Board terminates teacher's contract mid-year for failure to perform duties

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A school district board of trustees voted to propose the mid-year termination of a teacher's contract. To support the proposed termination, the district alleged that the teacher failed to:

  1. follow attendance procedures by arriving late, leaving early, and being absent without following attendance procedures,
  2. satisfactorily complete the duties of her position,
  3. relate to colleagues and supervisors with respect, courtesy, and in a professional manner, and
  4. follow the directives of her supervisors (insubordination).

The teacher requested a hearing before an independent hearing examiner to challenge the proposed termination of her contract. At the hearing, evidence was introduced to show that the teacher was assigned to co-teach in a behavioral support classroom. She was the lead teacher in English and social studies, while her co-teacher was the primary teacher in math and science. Even while the other teacher was leading the class, the co-teacher was supposed to be present in the room, assisting students with individualized instruction.

Teachers were required to arrive by 8:15 a.m., and obligated to stay on duty until 4:45 p.m. Campus security video footage, showed the teacher arriving late to work eight times; her tardiness ranged as little as three minutes late to almost four hours late while her average tardiness was between 25 and 35 minutes late. The campus video footage also captured the teacher leaving campus over two hours early on two occasions when instruction was still taking place in her classroom. The campus video footage showed her away from her classroom on three occasions for periods of 1.5 to 4 hours.

During the hearing, the teacher explained that some of her absences and late arrivals were due to her attending CPI training or visiting her grandfather in the hospital. She claimed to have records to prove this but did not present any such evidence during the hearing. In addition, she did not provide these reasons to her administration when asked why she was not present during her assigned duty.

The teacher's appraiser was able to verify her absence from the classroom because the appraiser had a daily practice of checking in around 8:20 a.m. every morning and then returning when instruction started at 8:30 a.m. She testified that at 8:30 a.m., the teacher was regularly not present in her classroom. 

The appraiser said she tried to appraise the teacher three or four times during a five-week period and was able to do so only once. There were three instances when the appraiser checked in on the classroom and the teacher walked out, claiming she was not comfortable being in the room with her appraiser. 

In addition, there were five or six instances where the teacher was simply not present in the classroom when she should have been there. There were only two instances where the teacher notified her appraiser that she was running late for arrival at school and only one instance where she sought approval from the principal to leave early.

By Oct. 9, 2023, after 28 days of student instruction, the teacher had been officially absent six days, and had six late arrivals. In addition, there were two instances of her whereabouts being unaccounted for and two instances of failing to report for bus duty. 

As a result, the teacher received a written reprimand for failure to report for duty. She was specifically directed to follow attendance procedures and report to work on Oct. 10, 2023, at her regularly scheduled time of 8:15 a.m., staying until the school day ended at 4:45 p.m. She violated the directive by not completing bus duty later that day and arriving late to her classroom at 8:27 a.m. She also was caught on camera not in her classroom during regular duty another five times after the written directive.

The evidence also showed that the teacher was insubordinate and unprofessional in her communications with others and she received a written reprimand for that. Examples of insubordinate conduct included failure to sign up for and provide confirmation of a training session that she was directed to attend. Another instance of insubordination occurred when the teacher also failed to attend an eSHARS training and the appraiser asked to meet with her. The teacher refused to do so.

Based on the evidence presented in the hearing, the independent hearing examiner found that good cause existed to support termination of the teacher's contract and recommended to the school district board of trustees that she be terminated.