Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How Can a Tenured Teacher Be Fired in Illinois?

Our sister blog, The Municipal Minute, recently reported on a case where a tenured teacher could not be fired even though she came to work drunk. So, how does a tenured teacher get fired in Illinois?

First, a tenured teacher may only be fired for cause. Causes for which a tenured teacher may be fired include incompetency, cruelty, negligence, or immorality. Whether a teacher is incompetent, or engages in cruelty, negligence, or immorality is largely up to the school board to decide. In fact, the school board is solely responsible for determining whether to fire a teacher.

Once the school board determines that cause exists to fire a teacher, it then must decide whether the teacher’s behavior is “irremediable” or “remediable.” A teacher’s behavior is irremediable if it causes damage to the school, students, or faculty that cannot be corrected. For instance, if a teacher is convicted of a serious crime, or sexually harasses a student, this is considered irremediable behavior. If a teacher engages in irremediable behavior, then the teacher must be fired. 

However, if the teacher’s behavior is remediable, then that teacher must be given a chance to fix the behavior. Remediable behavior is any behavior which can be fixed if called to the teacher’s attention. For instance, poor performance in the classroom is the type of remediable behavior that a teacher will be allowed to fix before being fired. 

If the school board determines that the teacher’s behavior is remediable, then it must provide the teacher with a written warning about the behavior. For certain types of remediable behavior, the Board must then create a “professional development plan” for that teacher, explaining the areas in which the teacher needs improvement and the support that the school district will provide in those areas. 

Firing a teacher can be tricky. A number of statutes govern the procedure, and a school board could find itself subject to a lawsuit for failing to follow them correctly. Therefore, any school board considering firing a teacher should contact an experienced attorney before doing so.