He does not play well with others…

Of the 35 to 40 reasons for possible nonrenewal of contract listed in the policies of most districts, here’s one that leads to interesting hearings:

Failure to maintain an effective working relationship, or maintain good rapport, with parents, the community, or colleagues.

In a hearing based on this reason, the district does not produce evidence of poor teaching or violations of school policy. This one is all about the soft skill of playing well with others. It can be a delicate matter, producing evidence that the teacher has failed to do the things necessary to maintain good working relationships. 

Obviously, we are not going to be loved and respected by everyone, and schools should welcome a diverse set of personalities.  But all employees have the responsibility to offer others basic courtesy and respect so as to maintain good rapport.  It matters.  So when a significant number of parents complain about a teacher’s communication style, that issue needs to be addressed.  When teachers find social media posts from one of their colleagues that are demeaning or rude, the issue needs to be addressed. 

If the failure to maintain good relationships is the basis for a nonrenewal hearing, things can get pretty interesting, especially if the teacher requests an open hearing.  I recall one time when my opposing counsel turned to a packed auditorium (it was about the head football coach) and asked: “Is there anyone who likes this guy who would like to testify?”  One person came forward.

But it’s not about being liked.  No one should be up for a loss of job just because the person is not well liked. It’s about the behavior of the individual.   Does this person do those things that contribute to effective working relationships?  This section of your policy makes it clear that all teachers have the responsibility to maintain effective relationships and reasonably good rapport with others.