Teachers ask school board to support resolution protecting tenure

Michael HowlettStaff Writer

December 28, 2012

Keith Hommema, president of the Carroll County Education, asked the Carroll County School Board to adopt a resolution supporting continuing contract laws for teachers during the board’s Dec. 11 meeting. Humala said the county’s teachers wanted “to send a message to Richmond to let them know we are concerned. A change in continuing contracts would lead to changes that wouldn’t be good for teachers.”

In 1968, the General Assembly adopted continuing contract laws establishing uniform employment practices, delineating causes for teacher dismissal, and providing employment security for teachers after a three-year probationary period. Gov. Bob McDonnell pushed hard last session for legislation to do away with continuing contract laws. The bill passed the House, but failed in the Senate. McDonnell is poised to try again in January when lawmakers reconvene in Richmond.

The bill would not only do away with continuing contracts, but increase the probationary period from three to five years and deny teachers “due process” provisions currently embodied in the continuing contract laws. Teachers would not be allowed the right to request a hearing before the school board, and there would be no requirement for school officials to show that termination was not arbitrary or without substantial evidence.

In addition, elimination of the continuing contract laws would make it possible for a veteran teacher to be terminated in favor of a younger, inexpensive teacher. Board Vice-Chair Reginald Gardner noted that some school boards would do that as a means “to balance budget cuts.” Chairman Brian Spencer added that the current laws “are a way to protect those who have made teaching a career.”

In a resolution presented to the board by Hommema, points for protecting continuing contract laws include retaining high-quality professional teachers while minimizing expenses caused by high turnover, assuring stable and consistent instruction provided by professional teachers not subject to arbitrary dismissal, fostering professional experience and subject understanding with teachers protected from replacement based on cost, and assuring nepotism and political favoritism do not influence teacher employment and school instruction.

The board agreed to consider the resolution.