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Improper Discharge of Public School Teacher

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Why Are Public School Teachers Discharged?

Public school teachers are usually discharged for one of two reasons:

  1. Incompetency, or
  2. Immoral or criminal conduct.

However, public schools are capable of discharging teachers when there is no actual just cause, meaning that the discharge was improper.

When Can a Teacher Sue a School for Their Improper Discharge?

Most states require that a teacher who believes that they were improperly discharged from their job to exhaust all administrative remedies before they can sue the school.  After going through all of the appropriate channels, it may still possible to sue the school and recover any damages that result.

In order to sue a school for improperly discharging them, the teacher must:

  1. Have the right to continue employment as a public school teacher through a contract or tenure,
  2. Be discharged from their teaching position or reassigned to a different position that is not equal to their former position, and
  3. Show that there were inadequate grounds for the discharge, such as a lack of proof to support the reason given for the discharge.

It might also be possible to sue a school for the wrongful discharge of a public school teacher if:

  • The teacher was not afforded all procedural rights they are constitutionally or statutorily entitled to,
  • The teacher was discharged based on grounds that violate their due process or equal protections of the law, or
  • The teacher was discharged based on something protected by free speech.

Are There Any Defenses to Such a Lawsuit?

A school who is being sued for improper discharge of a public school teacher generally has three defenses:

  1. The teacher was incompetent, immoral, or engaged in criminal conduct;
  2. The teacher's incompetency, immorality, or criminal conduct is not curable; or
  3. The teacher was given adequate warning and opportunity to fix their incompetency, immorality, or criminal conduct and failed to do so.

Do I Need an Attorney if I Was Wrongly Terminated as a Public School Teacher?

If you think you have been improperly discharged as a public school teacher, it is highly recommended that you contact an employment attorney.  A qualified employment attorney will be able to assist you in navigating the administrative remedies that must be satisfied before you can sue the school and represent you if your case ends up in court.

Photo of page author Kristen Johnson

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 05-14-2017 11:33 PM PDT

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