From State Sen. Bob Cassilly:
I am very disappointed that the General Assembly voted this week to override Governor Hogan’s veto of Senate Bill – 639 / House Bill 1758. Those bills remove the authority county the Superintendents of Schools and Boards of Education currently have to dismiss teachers for incompetency or willful neglect of duty. That final authority will now be shifted to an arbitrator from outside of Harford County with no connection to our schools.
It is shocking to me that the General Assembly trusts our educational system with our children’s lives but does not trust them to decide whether to terminate a very small number of incompetent or willfully neglectful teachers. This is no way to run our schools. Our students, parents, and taxpayers deserve better. So do the overwhelming number of fantastic teachers who will now have to work even harder to cover for the very small minority of incompetent and willfully neglectful teachers who will now likely remain in place due to this new law.
SB-639 and HB-1758 effectively make the incompetent and neglectful teachers the most protected public employees in our State, far more protected than police officers. Under prior law, the very small number of teachers charged with incompetence or will full neglect were allowed a hearing. The County Superintendent of Schools would then determine the appropriate remedy, including a possible termination. That decision was then subject to the approval of the entire Board of Education. The new law will delay that process, tie it up in expensive arbitration, and shift the final decision to second guessing by an outsider who is not a part of the extensive educational establishment that we trust to teach and protect our children and to hire and train our teachers.
Supporters argue that the Bills impose “Due Process.” It is a shame to see that concept so misapplied. The intent of the new law is clearly not due process. Rather, it is to thwart the existing, extensive due process by which we currently remove incompetency and neglect, making it too expensive and risky for the Board to act. The considerable time and expense of terminating an incompetent or willfully neglectful teacher will now be subject to nullification at the whim of an outside arbitrator, leaving the Board and Superintendent standing helplessly and disempowered. The Board will also need to transfer funds from teaching children to paying the considerable expenses of arbitration.
While arbitration is an appropriate mechanism for resolving matters of policy (pay, benefits, and the like), it has no legitimate role in the disciplinary process. That is why I voted to sustain Governor Hogan’s veto of these very bad bills.
Senator, District 34