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AFT Report by Kenneth Feinberg Suggests Improved Disciplinary Procedure

Tapped previously for objective recommendations on distributing compensation relating to both the BP oil spill and the 9/11 attacks, lawyer Kenneth Feinberg has produced a report for the AFT suggesting a 100-day timetable for fairly settling disciplinary charges against tenured teachers, reports Education Week. The report calls for “objective criteria, rather than vague and subjective allegations,” a 100-day timetable for resolution from initial charge to final decision, and an initial screening both to eliminate meritless charges, on the one hand, and on the other to try and informally settle those with merit without a lengthy hearing process. Weingarten has indicated support for the proposal, which will come up for formal approval by the AFT’s executive council in February.

The AFT press release is after the jump.

Feinberg Proposes Plan To Ensure Fairness, Due Process

In January of last year, the AFT asked Kenneth Feinberg to develop a fair, transparent and expeditious procedure for addressing allegations of teacher wrongdoing. His recommendations, which establish clear guidelines and a 100-day timeline for the process, were released on Jan. 20.

“On first review, Ken Feinberg has developed a thoughtful and common sense approach for addressing accusations of teacher wrongdoing — a rare but serious problem in schools. It attempts to ensure fairness and due process, as well as transparency and expediency,” AFT president Randi Weingarten says.

“We asked Feinberg to take on this challenge because, regardless of state statutes, the process and the way it is implemented are broken, and teachers and their unions are taking the blame. At times, the current process has allowed unfit teachers to remain in the classroom; at other times, it has allowed false allegations to ruin a teacher’s career.

“Feinberg’s proposal identifies 10 specific categories of wrongdoing, and lays out a precise, rational and easy-to-understand process for dealing with them. The proposal balances fairness and speed, protects teachers and students, and allows a range of sanctions depending on the seriousness of the findings. It establishes a path for an informal resolution within 20 days, and ensures that, if a formal hearing is necessary, the final judgment will be made within 100 days.

“It’s a template for a process that is fairer and more efficient than the laws currently on the books.

“Addressing the rare occasions of teacher wrongdoing is a natural next step in the AFT’s work to improve teacher quality. We are continuing our work, already under way in hundreds of districts, to overhaul teacher development and evaluation systems, and we will do everything we can to ensure that teachers and students have the conditions and tools they need to succeed.”

The AFT has prepared a set of questions and answers as well as talking points about the proposal.

The AFT executive council will consider the proposal in February. [AFT press release]

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