How hard is it to fire a teacher in RI? Target 12 knowsMay 3rd, 2011 at 9:45 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes
How difficult is it to terminate a teacher for poor job performance in Rhode Island?
That’s the question examined in tonight’s exclusive Target 12 investigation. Tim White will have the story at 10 p.m. on Fox Providence and 11 p.m. on WPRI 12.
We asked all 36 school districts in the state to provide the number of teachers who were terminated or who resigned during each of the last 10 years. Tim explains what we found in his WPRI.com story:
The majority of school districts in Rhode Island have not fired a single tenured teacher for job performance in the last decade, a Target 12 review of public records reveals.
Of the state’s 36 school districts, 32 provided Target 12 with data stretching back 10 years. In that time, 37 tenured teachers were terminated for cause, 16 of those in Providence alone. There were just over 11,000 tenured teachers in the state in 2010. The numbers show 21 of the 32 school districts never fired a tenured teacher in the last ten years.
The comprehensive review of termination data comes at a time when the state Department of Education is rolling out a new set of teacher evaluation standards. School officials have often complained that it’s difficult to terminate a tenured teacher for cause.
One of the comparisons that stuck out to us when we reviewed the data was the different approaches taken by Rhode Island’s second- and third-largest cities, as I explain in my companion WPRI.com article:
Warwick and Cranston are neighboring cities, but Target 12 has discovered that the two districts took very different approaches over the last 10 years when it came to terminating teachers for poor job performance: Warwick fired seven, while Cranston fired none.
Rhode Island’s 64-year-old law protecting public-school teachers awards them tenured employment status once they complete three years on the job. After that, the law says a tenured teacher cannot be fired “except for good and just cause.”
In Cranston, a principal who wants to terminate a teacher must make a formal recommendation to the superintendent’s office. Raymond Votto, the school district’s chief operating officer, said he was not aware of any termination requests that had been made in his seven years working there.
Want to know what your school district did? Check out our database with details from the 32 of 36 that responded to our public records request.