Senate Education Committee passes bill for tribunal reform
SB 132 (McGaha) passed the Senate Education Committee this week. The bill would reform the system by which teachers are given due process to appeal termination, suspension or reprimand. The current system to review cases of misconduct and inadequate job performance for school employees is both complicated and inefficient. Superintendents are reluctant to suspend or fire an employee no matter what the employee’s indiscretion, due to the cost, complexity and likelihood that their decision will be overturned.
Currently, when disciplinary action is taken against a teacher or public school employee, they can appeal the action via tribunal. The tribunal is set up similarly to an actual court proceeding, though instead of one judge, the issue is heard before a panel; one lay person, one teacher and one superintendent from a different district. The tribunal hears the facts of the case and then has the opportunity to uphold the disciplinary action taken by the school system, overturn it in its entirety or take alternative action.
SB 132 would make the process more consistent by requiring the same thorough case-review training for all tribunal jurors. It would also delineate between types of cases; ensuring that cases of professional misconduct (i.e. – insubordination or immoral character) would be handled by a hearing officer appointed by the commissioner of education, while cases of poor teacher performance would be handled by an administrator and teacher with teacher evaluation training and an unspecified third person. Though the tribunal process would not change significantly for performance-based cases, the tribunal participants would receive improved training and would no longer be able to create alternative disciplinary actions, only overturn or uphold the school system’s action.
The Chamber joins the Kentucky School Boards Association, Kentucky Association of School Administrators and the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents in supporting the legislation. The Kentucky Education Association opposed the bill. The bill will now move to the full Senate for a vote.