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ERIC Number: ED518163
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 378
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1240-6062-0
An Examination of Court Cases Relating to the Dismissal of K-12 Teachers for Immorality (1977-2007)
Summerville, Tammy
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, The University of Alabama
This was a purposeful, qualitative, historical and document-based research study that investigated the trends and outcomes of the legal issues relating to teacher dismissal for "immorality". The study included 114 cases over a 30-year period spanning from 1977-2007. Federal and state level law cases were researched to determine the ruling of courts as they applied the law and state statutes. Ten guiding principles were developed for school leaders to consider when confronted with teacher misconduct issues. Terminating a teacher's contract on grounds of "immorality" requires that a school board demonstrates one of two legal tests: the moral exemplar v. the nexus test. The moral exemplar test holds that teachers are held to a higher community standard of a mandatory role model. On the other hand, it has been asserted that teachers are entitled to the right to have a private life and that their privacy should be protected unless it can be proved that the behavior of the teacher directly and negatively impacts his or her teaching or harms the school community. Courts have used one of these legal tests in determining whether the dismissal is warranted. The literature revealed, and the outcomes of the cases studied, clearly indicate that over the last 30 years courts have moved from applying the moral exemplar standard to teacher dismissal cases relating to immorality to utilizing the nexus test when considering the dismissal of teachers for immoral acts. It is very clear from reviewing both standards that a teacher's conduct outside of the workplace can result in disciplinary action by the school board. The outcomes of this study revealed that school boards have been successful in terminating teachers for immorality including, but not limited to, the following areas: sexual improprieties with students, violation of school policy regarding alcohol and illegal drug use, theft, dishonesty, grand larceny, inappropriate use of computer and Internet access, violation of districts' corporal punishment/discipline policy, homosexual solicitation, violation of sexual harassment policy, use of profanity, breach of contract, conviction of a criminal act, embezzlement, violation of school district's weapons policy, and inappropriate comments to students or co-workers. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A