Center for American Progress

Use Mediation as an Alternative to Traditional Teacher Dismissal Hearings
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Use Mediation as an Alternative to Traditional Teacher Dismissal Hearings

Districts and teachers can avoid unnecessary dismissal hearings and appeals by thinking creatively about alternatives to traditional, high-stakes dismissal hearings.

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Many low-performing teachers are aware of their performance issues but may feel that they have no other option than to fight dismissal. Since state law allows for compensation during the dismissal process, teachers also are essentially encouraged to continue through the process. Districts and teachers can avoid unnecessary dismissal hearings and appeals by thinking creatively about alternatives to traditional, high-stakes dismissal hearings.

Implementing a mandatory nonbinding mediation session prior to the dismissal hearing, where both the district and teacher can present their perception of the case may actually encourage many teachers not to pursue a traditional dismissal hearing. The mediation may provide an opportunity for the teacher to better understand the reasoning behind dismissal and allow the district to see if the case can be resolved outside of an actual dismissal hearing. The parties can also determine if alternatives to dismissal are appropriate such as an alternative noninstructional placement for teachers with applicable skills in other areas, a cash “buyout,” or another mutually agreeable arrangement.

Teachers will take full advantage of their right to a hearing and pursuing multiple appeals when faced with the possibility of losing a current position and any possibility for attaining another position in the field. Limiting license revocation to a small subset of teachers who commit crimes or endanger students’ lives, as suggested by The New Teacher Project, will discourage teachers from aggressively fighting a dismissal charge for lesser “offenses” that allow them to keep their license.

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