In the normal course of events, the nonrenewal of a teacher’s contract begins with a recommendation from the principal. If the superintendent signs off on that recommendation, it goes to the board. The board can then propose that the teacher’s contract not be renewed. But what happens if the first link in that chain is missing?
In a recent decision, Commissioner Morath tells us that “A school board may propose nonrenewal even when a principal has not recommended nonrenewal.” In fact, the Commissioner cites an earlier case holding that not even a superintendent’s recommendation is needed (Berry v. Kemp ISD; Dkt. No. 103-R10-600 (Comm’r Education 2001). The teacher’s lawyer pointed out the state law that authorizes principals to approve “all teacher and staff appointments” for the campus. But the Commissioner held that this does not mean that the principal’s recommendation is necessary for a nonrenewal.
Nonrenewals that are not supported by a principal and superintendent recommendation are rare, and somewhat problematic. The question naturally arises: if the principal, the direct supervisor, did not recommend the nonrenewal of this contract, then why should the district nonrenew the contract? There may also be problems with producing relevant documentation and evidence to support the nonrenewal in the absence of a principal’s recommendation.
But none of that was a problem in the recent decision. The evidence showed that the teacher “roughly grabbed a student who was under her supervision.” The Commissioner concluded that this was “unnecessary and without justification.” There was disputed testimony as to whether the “rough grab” was on the arm or the neck. The Commissioner said it did not matter: “Exactly where Petitioner grabbed the student is not significant.”
We will have more to say about this case later this week, so stay tuned. The case is Hernandez v. Point Isabel ISD, Dkt. No. 025-R1-04-2016, decided June 15, 2016.
DAWG BONE: TO SUPPORT THE NONRENEWAL OF A TEACHER’S CONTRACT IT IS BEST TO HAVE A RECOMMENDATION FROM THE PRINCIPAL. BUT IT IS NOT ALWAYS NECESSARY.
File this one under: LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT