ERIC Number: ED524148
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Reference Count: 12
Letters of Reference: Information vs. Defamation. A Legal Memorandum: Quarterly Law Topics for School Leaders, Summer 2004
Miller, Teresa N.; Shoop, Robert J.
National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)
Gloria, a first-year principal at Sunflower High School, sighed as she stared at her computer screen. She had been asked to write letters of reference for three teachers who were leaving her school. The first resigned among rumors of misconduct with a student--but before an investigation began. The second was asked to resign after a school investigation found evidence of academic dishonesty. And the third was an average teacher who simply was not offered a new contract. Gloria has a dilemma that most principals face on a regular basis: how to write an honest letter of reference that will be useful to the receiving district while preventing charges of negligent referral or defamation. Ironically, at a time when "receiving" administrators are desperate for accurate information about prospective employees, fear of litigation has resulted in some "sending" districts joining their counterparts in business and industry in saying very little about former employees. These self-imposed limitations are largely due to an exaggerated fear of defamation lawsuits, according to employment lawyer Marshall Tannick (Lindgren, 2003). The techniques listed in this issue of "A Legal Memorandum", along with truthful, substantiated comments related to actual teacher performance, should result in quality letters of reference and prevent defamation suits.
Descriptors: Court Litigation, Fear, Principals, Teacher Evaluation, Faculty Evaluation, Referral, Educational Malpractice, Legal Problems, Legal Responsibility, Libel and Slander, Administrator Guides, Guidelines, Organizational Development, Portfolios (Background Materials), Disclosure, Information Policy
National Association of Secondary School Principals. 1904 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1537. Tel: 800-253-7746; Tel: 703-860-0200; Fax: 703-620-6534; Web site: http://www.nassp.org
Publication Type: Collected Works - Serial; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: National Association of Secondary School Principals