Teacher Employment, Evaluation and Dismissal

The Independent School Task Force on Educator Sexual Misconduct has released its final report, Prevention and Response: Recommendations for Independent School Leaders. This report incorporates feedback submitted in response to the August 2017 draft report released for comment and feedback. The Task Force was formed in the Summer of 2016 as a collaboration between the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) and was characterized as a “call to action” for schools to engage in a comprehensive and thoughtful review of policies and procedures to help ensure safe environments for students.

As the title implies, the report first walks through recommendations for steps independent schools should take to prevent incidents of educator sexual misconduct from occurring, followed by guidance and recommendations for response to allegations. In making these recommendations, the Task Force lauded schools which demonstrate honesty and openness on this issue and which continue to encourage transparency within the independent school community. A summary of the report’s recommendations are outlined below.


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Less than one week after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its own landmark Title VII decision finding that the antidiscrimination statute prohibits discrimination against transgender or transitioning individuals even where an employer’s religious exercise may be substantially burdened.
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Originally appeared in the CAS Weekly Newsletter.
Written by attorney Thomas B. Mooney.

Dear Legal Mailbag:

As the principal in my building, I try to give teachers some space, so I don’t often stop by the teachers’ lounge. But yesterday I did so, and now I have a question. The teachers were chatting animatedly about the planned National School Walkout on March 14 to protest gun violence. One of the teachers announced grandly that he would be walking out of class at exactly 10:00 a.m. that day and that he would be encouraging his students to follow suit. The room got quiet, however, when I asked him rhetorically where he was planning to work starting on March 15. Then, after a minute’s reflection, the teacher became somewhat aggressive, and he pushed back, claiming that he has a right under the First Amendment to participate in the protest.

I am not proud to admit that then we got into it. In a condescending tone, the teacher cited a couple of Supreme Court cases about free speech and “comment on matters of public concern.” I responded by telling the teacher that he could protest sixteen hours a day, but not when he is being paid to teach. At the end of this brief and somewhat antagonistic exchange, the teacher told me that we would have to agree to disagree.

I don’t want to agree with this teacher on anything. Is he correct in his claim that he has the right under the First Amendment to walk out on March 14?

Thank you,
Old School


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Originally appeared in the CAS Weekly Newsletter.
Written by attorney Thomas B. Mooney.

Dear Legal Mailbag:

As the principal of a middle school, sometimes I feel more like a referee than an educator. Recently, I have received a number of complaints from teachers about one seventh grade biology teacher “hogging” the copier. It seems that she is constantly copying worksheets and other materials. Other teachers are having problems every morning making their own copies because this teacher gets to the copier early and stands there making hundreds of copies every morning.

Being a good principal, I met with her to discuss her copying practices. She was rather dismissive, asking me if I had ever taught biology. She claims that the textbook is woefully inadequate and that she must supplement the textbook extensively to teach her students appropriately. I asked her to show me what she meant, and she shared a number of articles and worksheets that she has gathered from other sources for just that one day of instruction. She claims that it is necessary for her to copy 30 to 40 pages of materials each day for her 100+ students. To make matters worse, she warned me ominously that, since she has been making this large number of copies every day since the beginning of the year, she is now protected by “past practice,” and I cannot impose restrictions now.

Am I stuck?

Thank you,

Copying Conundrum


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Recent headlines make clear that sexual harassment is a serious problem in our society. It has also been a focus of attention on school campuses. Since the adoption of Title IX, colleges and universities, as well as other educational institutions, have taken steps to address complaints by students that they have been harassed or sexually assaulted; however, there is increasing push back regarding the procedures by which academic institutions adjudicate allegations of sexual misconduct, as well as on the training for those employees responsible for responding to allegations of inappropriate student conduct.

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Portrait of confident professor with university students in classroomEarlier this month in the city of Pittsburg, Kansas, a group of curious student journalists raised serious questions about the credentials of their newly hired principal, Amy Robertson.  According to the Kansas City Star, Robertson had received 100 percent support from the district school board, but some of the students at the Pittsburg high school were not equally convinced.  The student journalists decided to look into the legitimacy of Robertson’s qualifications.  As the students investigated Robertson’s educational credentials, what they discovered was quite suspicious and raised red flags about the new principal’s background.

First, the students learned that her university degree came from Corllins University, which operated as a diploma factory of sorts where enrollees could buy the degree of their choice.  Later, the Kansas City Star reached out to the U.S. Department of Education and learned that the federal agency had no evidence of Corllins’ operation or closure.  Subsequently, the student journalists learned that Robertson had served as Principal at the American Scientific School in Dubai, a school receiving multiple ratings of “unsatisfactory” by Dubai’s education authority, which ultimately closed down in 2013.   Armed with revealing information about Robertson’s education and career, the student journalists wrote a news story in their school paper. Days after the release of that story, Robertson resigned.

What lesson can schools take from these Pittsburg students? When considering applicants, especially for positions that require extensive scholarship and experience, schools must do more than check off credentials.  An extra search into an applicant’s background can save a school from an embarrassing situation such as that faced in Pittsburg, Kansas. 
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On Wednesday, September 7, 2016, Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher ruled in the case of Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell, x07 HHD 14-5037565-S, that the current Connecticut education system violates the state constitution.  This ruling is the latest in a case first filed on December 12, 2005.

In 2007, the trial court dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims and held that the Connecticut Constitution did not contain a right to “suitable educational opportunities.”  In 2010, however, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed that 2007 decision and remanded the case back to Superior Court for trial, although the Supreme Court was split and there was no majority opinion.


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