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Due process actions can cost school districts time, money

By Wendy K. Kleinman Modified: June 10, 2008 at 1:33 pm •  Published: June 1, 2008
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MOST teachers are good at what they do, Oklahoma City schools' acting superintendent Sandra Park says.

But when teachers don't make the grade, students, parents and other educators are sharply affected.


"The majority are doing a great job, but when they're bad it is so devastating to the group of kids that has them,” Park said.

"When someone makes the comment, ‘I would not let my child or my grandchild be in that teacher's class,' we've got a problem if we don't have a way of removing that teacher from the classroom.”

That method of removal is the Teacher Due Process Act. But under the system, just one teacher in the last five years has been terminated from Oklahoma City Public Schools for unsatisfactory teaching performance.

Park said resignations and transfers likely account for the singular figure.

"The fact is, no legal issue is more expensive in terms of a school district's time, money and resources than teacher due process actions,” said Craig Crimmins, director of legal information for the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

Those were driving factors in the decision by the Vian School Board to accept last-minute resignations from two teachers accused of having inappropriate relationships with students.

"The board took this very seriously,” Vian Superintendent Lawrence Barnes said. "It was just best for the district for them to resign. There's finality to it. We don't have to go through the termination hearings or prolonged litigation.”

The board's decision frustrated Vian parents, but theirs is just one source of dissatisfaction with the process tied to teacher quality. Education Sector May 2008 Report: Teachers Speak on the... View the list of Oklahoma teacher's with revoked licenses... Graphic: What it takes to fire a public school teacher? Education Station: More on schools’ ‘bad apples’

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Felony convictions
•30 educators from 2003 through 2007 had teaching certificates revoked from the state Education Department because of felony convictions.

•More than half — 19 out of 31 — were convictions for sexual crimes including rape, lewd acts with a minor and child pornography.

• Other convictions ranged from drug manufacturing to witness intimidation.

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