ERIC Number: ED379754
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Nov
Terminating Teachers and Revoking Their Licensure for Conduct beyond the Schoolhouse Gate.
Hooker, Clifford P.
This paper addresses the legal tension between a teacher's right to privacy and a school board's right to demand exemplary conduct by teachers in and out of school. The watershed case in the area of a teacher's right to a private life appears to be "Morrison v. Board of Education" (California 1969), which identified factors that a board may consider when determining whether a teacher's conduct indicates unfitness to teach. Authority for the proposition that teachers serve as role models for students is examined in part 1. Part 2 discusses the emergence of the "nexus issue," where school boards that terminate a teacher's contract for immoral conduct must show a connection between the teacher's conduct and a likely negative effect on the school ("substantial nexus"). Cases that illustrate the range of issues involved and the reasoning of various courts are discussed in parts 3 and 4. The cases involved sexual misconduct, moral turpitude, theft of school district funds/property, abuse of sick leave, and theft/burglary. Overall, the past 25 years have seen a general trend of judicial leniency toward the teaching profession. While the courts are extremely aware of the "special role" that teachers play in society, they nonetheless exhibit a growing tendency to balance societal interests with the private rights of a teacher. Virtually no behavior except criminal offenses and student/teacher sexual relationships constitute immorality per se. Since the "Morrison" decision, the courts evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis. However, the current wave of privacy cases will probably not end controversy over the issue of teachers as role models. Two flow charts illustrate the legal analysis that most courts follow when examining these issues. (LMI)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Organization on Legal Problems in Education (San Diego, CA, November 17-19, 1994).