Posts tagged with "teachers"

No Child Left Behind – Connecticut

No Child Left Behind – Connecticut

            One of the legislative centerpieces of Federal Education Law is “The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001” (“NCLB”).  The Act is 670 pages in length and almost as controversial as it is long.   Therefore, parents should be familiar with at least its stated purpose and general provisions.  NCLB does not, however, give parents the right to sue on behalf of their children. 

          NCLB funds Federal programs established by the U.S. Department of Education aimed at improving the performance of schools throughout the 50 states by imposing greater accountability on public schools, expanding parental choice in the school attended by their child, and placing increased emphasis on reading and math skills.  NCLB has as one of its focal points improvement of schools and school districts serving students from low-income families.

            The theory underlying enactment of NCLB was that improved educational programs would enable students to meet challenging state academic achievement standards and thereby achieve their full potential.  Among other areas, the Act funds programs and resources for disadvantaged students, delinquent and neglected youth in institutions, improving teacher and principal quality, use of technology in schools, and fostering a safe and drug-free learning environment.  One source of controversy is the fact that NCLB allows military recruiters access to the names, addresses, and telephone listings of 11th and 12th grade students if the school provides that information to colleges or employers. 

          More specifically, NCLB requires states to strengthen test standards, to test annually all students in grades 3-8, and to establish annual statewide progress objectives to ensure that all students achieve proficiency within 12 years. There are no Federal standards of achievement; each state is required to set its own standards. Test results and state progress objectives must be stratified based upon poverty, race, ethnicity, disability, and English proficiency to ensure that “no child is left behind.”  Schools and school districts that fail to make “adequate yearly progress” are subject to corrective action and restructuring.  Adequate yearly progress means, for example, that each year a school’s fourth graders score higher on standardized tests than the previous year’s fourth graders.

          Once a school has been identified under NCLB as requiring improvement, corrective action, or restructuring, local school officials must afford its students the opportunity (and transportation, if needed) to attend a better public school within the same school district.  Low-income students attending a “persistently failing school” (i.e., one failing to meet state standards for 3 out of the 4 preceding years) are eligible for funding to obtain supplemental educational services from either public or private schools selected by the student and his parents.  Under-performing schools are highly incentivized to improve if they wish to avoid further loss of students (and an accompanying loss of funding).  A school that fails to make adequate yearly progress for five consecutive years is subject to reconstitution under a restructuring plan.

          Simply stated, NCLB provides states and school districts unprecedented flexibility in their use of federal funds in return for more stringent accountability for increased teacher quality and improved student results.

          One of the stated goals of NCLB is that every child be able to read by the end of third grade.  To this end, the Federal government invested in scientifically based reading instruction programs to be implemented in the early grades.  An expected collateral benefit of this initiative is reduced identification of children requiring special education services resulting from a lack of appropriate reading instruction.  NCLB funds screening and diagnostic assessments to identify K-3 students who are at risk of reading failure, and to better equip K-3 teachers in the essential components of reading instruction.  Funds are also available to support early language, literacy, and pre-reading development of pre-school age children.

          In keeping with its major themes of accountability, choice, and flexibility, NCLB also emphasizes the use of practices grounded in scientifically based research to prepare, train, and recruit high-quality teachers.  Once again, local school administrators are afforded significant flexibility in teacher staffing, provided they can demonstrate annual progress in maintaining and enhancing the high-quality of their teachers.

          Finally, in an effort to ensure safe and drug-free schools, NCLB, as proposed, requires states to allow students who attend a persistently dangerous school, or who have been victims of violent crime at school, to transfer to a safe school.  To facilitate characterizing schools as “safe” or “not safe,” NCLB requires public disclosure of school safety statistics on a school-by-school basis.  In addition, school administrators must use federal funding to implement demonstrably effective drug and violence prevention programs.

          It is within this overarching educational framework of NCLB that the State of Connecticut oversees and administers its constitutional and statutory obligations to educate your children.

 

Fairfield High School Racial Bias Charged

Alleging racial discrimination, three minority students at Fairfield High School — arrested in February after a fight broke out in the school parking lot — plan to sue the town, claiming they were singled out base upon their “ethnicity and national origin.” Continue Reading

Special Education Law: Evaluation and Identification

Children identified as having disabilities have different rights from other students. Accordingly, the identification process is a very important step. It begins with a referral sent to the student’s school district – specifically, a written request for an evaluation of whether the child is eligible for, and needs, special education services. This request can be made by the child’s parent, school personnel, or another appropriate person (such as a physician or a social worker).

Once the school district receives a referral, it must convene a planning and placement team (“PPT”) to review the referral, determine whether further evaluation is necessary and, ultimately, decide whether the child requires special education services. If the PPT requests further evaluation of your child, such evaluation will be conducted at the school district’s expense. Once the PPT has made its determination, you have the right to request an independent educational evaluation (“IEE”) of your child if you disagree with the PPT’s decision. If, after the IEE, you still disagree with the PPT, you may request a hearing in accordance with State Department of Education regulations. Our attorneys will work with your family to determine the best course of action and to protect your child’s educational rights, while ensuring compliance with applicable federal, state and local regulations.

Dismissal Process for Nontenured Teachers

Should you have any questions regarding these or other education law matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at Maya Murphy, P.C. by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

Dismissal Process

Nontenured teachers have many of the same termination rights as tenured teachers. But they can also be dismissed by simple nonrenewal of their contracts, if they are notified by April 1. If a teacher files a written request, the board must supplement the nonrenewal notice with a written statement of its reasons for nonrenewal within seven days of receiving the request.

Nontenured teachers may be “bumped” by tenured teachers whose positions are eliminated. Bumping must occur in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement or, if there is none, with a written policy of the board.

Nontenured teachers dismissed because their positions were eliminated or they were bumped have no right to a hearing. Otherwise, like a tenured teacher, a nontenured teacher has 20 days after receiving notice of nonrenewal or termination to file a written request for a hearing, either before the board or, if the hearing request specifies it and the board designates, an impartial hearing panel appointed as described above. The hearing must begin within 15 days of the request, unless the parties agree to an extension of not more than 15 days, and must be conducted in the same way as a tenured teacher’s hearing.

Unlike tenured teachers, nontenured teachers cannot appeal board decisions to Superior Court unless the dismissal is for moral misconduct or disability.

Court Appeals

If a teacher appeals a dismissal to Superior Court, the court must treat it as a privileged case and hear it as soon as practicable. The board must file the hearing transcript and other relevant documents with the court. The court must review the record and allow the parties to introduce new evidence if equitable disposition of the case requires it. The court may affirm or reverse the board’s decision but is not allowed to assess costs against the board unless it finds the board acted with gross negligence, malice, or bad faith. [1]

As a teacher, it is imperative that you understand Connecticut’s statutory scheme surrounding hiring, evaluation, and termination processes. Should you have any questions regarding these or other education law matters, you should seek the counsel of an experienced school law practitioner. Please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.


[1] “Teacher Tenure Law,” by the Connecticut General Assembly. April 22, 2002: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2002/olrdata/ed/rpt/2002-r-0469.htm