The 2004 Alabama teacher tenure act: issues and application

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University of Alabama Libraries

In 2004, Alabama abolished its previous teacher tenure law that allowed for teachers to appeal adverse board decisions to a seven member Alabama State Tenure Commission. In its place, the Alabama legislature provided a process for teachers to appeal terminations, transfers, and major/minor suspensions to a hearing officer. The hearing officer was either selected from a panel of arbitrators through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services’ Office of Arbitration Services (FMCS) or could be mutually agreed upon by the parties. Unlike the previous tenure law, the hearing officer was not required to given any deference or consideration to the board’s decision below. Not long after its adoption and implementation, the 2004 Alabama Teacher Tenure Act came under fire for not fulfilling its intended goals of providing for an expedited and less-costly method of review for adverse employment actions. By 2011, Alabama’s (as well as most other states’) political landscape had changed significantly and the 2004 Alabama Teacher Tenure Act was repealed and replaced with the Students First Act. This qualitative research project analyzes the issues and application of arbitration-type hearings in 106 Alabama K-12 tenured certified personnel adverse employment actions. Specifically, the research addresses the issues regarding Alabama’s 2004 Teacher Tenure Act, including how hearing officers trained as employment law arbitrators decided for or against board decisions in adverse employment actions, what trends emerged from their decisions, and what legal principles remain applicable for school administrators.

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Educational administration, Educational leadership, Education policy