Recently, a bill in the California legislature that would increase the period that the state requires teachers to serve before obtaining tenure failed to attract enough support to become law. Typically, once teachers obtain tenure, it can be difficult to fire them – and it can cost a school district tens of thousands of dollars. This must mean that teaching positions are so hard to take away that educators can rest easy, right?
Not necessarily. California teachers can still get fired. And here are just some of the reasons why they can, and do.
Common Reasons Teachers Get Fired in California
Violating Health and Safety Regulations
Coach Villalobos was surprised when he was fired for collecting uneaten fruit at his middle school and distributing it to avoid waste. It turns out that this violated school rules on food safety that prohibited re-serving unpackaged food.
If you are a teacher in California and have an idea for an innovative school program, classroom activity or experiment, consider checking with your school’s administration before you get started. It never hurts to find out more about the rules you might run into, and you could also learn that there is a good reason other teachers haven’t implemented certain activities before you.
Inappropriate Educational Material
Sticking to the textbook can be boring sometimes, and students typically gain valuable insights from teachers who can relate the curriculum to the real world. But before you decide to include a YouTube clip in your lesson plan, consider whether some students, parents or administrators might find the contents inappropriate for the children you are teaching. Doing so may have saved Donna Henderson her job. She was terminated in May after showing a Beyoncé video to a classroom full of sixth-graders. Parents protested that the video contained sexually suggestive dance moves. And this was enough for the school to fire her.
Fighting with Students
It should go without saying that any teacher who gets in a physical confrontation with a student is asking to be let go. But teachers can find themselves in difficult, violent situations at times. Some teachers also work with special needs students who may pose physical challenges to them. Such is the case of a 9-year-old that teachers at Tobin world school in Antioch wrestled to the ground in a viral YouTube video. According to CBS News, the staff should have used special holds and de-escalation techniques rather than choosing to overpower the student. The school suspended the staff members involved immediately. If you are a teacher who is thinking about engaging in any type of inappropriate behavior that may become a viral hit on social media, you should think twice about whether it will result in a firing.
A Checkered Past
Everyone has a history, but some of them are harder to leave behind. Just ask Stacie Halas, a 4th grade science teacher in Oxnard, CA who lost her job when students found videos online showcasing Halas’ 9-month career as a pornography actress. At first, teachers didn’t believe them, The Florida Times-Union reports, because the videos were not available on school computers. However, Halas’ colleagues showed administrators the videos on their phones. Halas was then fired, and a three-judge commission upheld the teacher firing. Halas had lied to the school district about her career, but never made any movies while she was teaching.
If you have skeletons in your closet, consider coming clean to your employer during your interview. It may hurt your prospects up front, but in the long run it could also save you from embarrassing discoveries and unemployment.
There are valid reasons why teachers get fired, but if you think your employer has illegally fired you, be sure to contact the expert California employment attorneys at Hennig Ruiz for a free consultation.