One of the most important issues to school employees is their right to fair treatment. Many believe they do not have any rights, either because they are told this or because they have experienced mistreatment.
The SCEA wants school employees to know and understand their rights.
Here are just a few of the common issues we hear about and the truth about the rights of school employees. These snippets do not tell the whole story. Members should contact us before taking any action based on this information.
TRUE only if the person you are meeting with or the district allows it. However, you are entitled to a representative of your choosing in any meeting where alternatives to termination, layoff or contract non-renewal are being presented to you. This right is provided by state law.
FALSE. Meeting with school and district officials is a part of your employment obligations. Refusal to meet is insubordination.
TRUE. You cannot be held in a meeting against your will. If you leave, you should excuse yourself in a professional manner.
TRUE, but your resignation is not valid until and unless you are released from your contract (teachers). If you leave without being released, your certificate will be suspended and you cannot work in any school in SC for one year. Classified employees are at-will and can resign at any time.
FALSE. There is no law that provides this right. If a district claims it will allow teachers to change their minds later, it must be in writing to be enforceable.
Maybe. There is a requirement that continuing contract teachers be formally observed at least once every 5 years, regardless of performance. If performance weakness is the rationale for the recommendation, the teacher can file an appeal if she thinks it is not warranted.
FALSE. Only the state department can revoke a certificate.
FALSE. There is no law that requires a district verify the accuracy of the information, and they don’t need the employee’s permission to put something in the file. Employees can write a rebuttal and file an appeal. The file is nothing more than a storage location. It’s the decisions that are made based on what's in the file that matter.
TRUE. A school employee should get advice to make sure their decision is defensible. OSHA provides guidance at https://www.osha.gov/as/opa/worker/refuse.html.
FALSE. Teachers can appeal the outcome of an evaluation if procedural errors occurred. The teacher must be able to show that but for the procedural error, she would have passed. Teachers who want to appeal should call The SCEA for help.
FALSE. Only a school board can fire professional staff. Rules vary by district about the procedure for classified staff.