Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/07/1995 03:10 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HHES - 03/07/95 HB 217 - EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS OF TEACHERS Number 1178 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said he introduced this bill to allow school districts some flexibility to deal with rising enrollments and increased costs associated with the educational system. Should the legislature decide not to increase educational funding, policy questions, such as the one proposed in HB 217, need to be addressed. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said this bill would allow school districts to layoff teachers who have acquired tenure rights, but only if the school district finds it necessary to reduce the number of teachers due to declining enrollment, declining revenues, or to better meet the academic program needs of the district. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said the bill also increases tenure from two to five years, and removes the costly trial de novo portion of Alaska statute. Trial de novo allows a school district employee who is not satisfied with the district investigation of his or her release, to go to the court system and begin an entirely new trial. Number 1253 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN continued the district investigation most often must be recreated. This bill would eliminate the de novo portion if the school district investigation has met standards acceptable to the court. The deletion of the trial de novo allows educators the same protections as provided to other state employees. Number 1312 CARL ROSE, Executive Director of the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB), said that as many are aware, some of the issues contained in the bill have been a concern of the AASB for some time. Probably, these issues have been focused on more this year because of the legislature's concern to decrease spending and the appropriation for education in this state. MR. ROSE asked to comment on specific portions of the bill. He said there are some things the AASB is asking for, and he would like to share some philosophical comments with the HESS Committee members, as well as the information the AASB has gathered. MR. ROSE based his discussion of the bill on fairness. When the acquisition of tenure is studied, the issue is one of fairness, not necessarily to the school district or the profession, but to the new teacher that is entering the profession. Tenure is achieved after two years of employment. MR. ROSE said new teachers have invested time and effort to get an education, and under a two-year scenario, the administration will only have about 18 months to decide whether this person is beyond the standard in which it wants to invest tenure. If there is a question whether this young teacher is suitable to be in the classroom as exemplified by behavior and character; and there is a question of whether the administration wants to invest in the lifetime employment of this person; the person should probably not receive tenure. MR. ROSE said unfortunately, that is what many school districts are doing. If the administration is not completely sure, it is not going to extend this probationary period. Mr. Rose thinks it is very unfair for a person who invests at least four years in an education to not have the opportunity to be successful and get the kind of professional development and experience needed. Number 1406 MR. ROSE continued that is why the issue of tenure and extension has been raised, and the AASB is asking for five years. This has been a standard for some time as a resolution. The issue is open for negotiation, but more time is needed. He understands that the concern will rise about what will be done with the additional time. Will better evaluation processes be provided? The AASB would love to work on that. Unfortunately, the AASB is under the same constraints from the legislature. The first thing they hear about is administration excess. MR. ROSE added that the administration performs the evaluation. When administration is reduced, the AASB is facing the dilemma once again. What can be done with the additional time can be discussed. Options are to invest it in evaluation or observation and the provision of professional development through inservice training to improve the quality of instruction. This is what the AASB desires, and it is open to discussion on these topics. Number 1450 MR. ROSE talked about layoffs. He said because there is a lack of funding, it is not the intent to teach more kids with less teachers. More teachers are needed. Unfortunately, the money is a problem. In many school districts, schools cannot keep the staff they currently have without more money. Some of the school districts, under the requirements of tenure, do not have the latitude to lay off some of the tenure staff. There is no reduction in enrollment, but there is a reduction in revenue. MR. ROSE reminded the HESS Committee members that under current law, there are four reasons why a tenure teacher can be nonretained: Incompetence, substantial noncompliance with statutes and regulations, immorality, and enrollment decline. MR. ROSE explained that HB 217 proposes to add fairness to this equation. It would essentially say that the first three areas of noncompliance, incompetence and immorality are professional and performance standards that should be evaluated. But nonenrollment and revenue decline are economic circumstances. No one should be nonretained, as would be done with a felon, because of economic problems. Instead, a layoff provision should be created within statute that addresses that economic shortfall. MR. ROSE continued by saying the bill directs the Department of Education (DOE) to promulgate regulations that will protect tenure teacher rights on layoff status. These regulations would also invoke a rehire provision so laid-off teachers are protected. It is open for debate whether these layoff provisions will have a time limit. The promulgation of these regulations should address this. Number 1535 MR. ROSE thinks the issue is really one of fairness. The three issues of nonretention should remain as a performance standard. The two issues that are economic should be moved to layoff status so it gives school districts the ability to address their economic shortfalls. MR. ROSE concluded by discussing the de novo issue. Documentation could be found in the HESS Committee members' bill packets. This documentation is from last year. De novo trials occurred in five school districts in seven cases. The total cost to those districts (and some of those cases are not yet resolved) is $721,000. This is a very costly situation. MR. ROSE explained that under state law, if you are a tenured teacher, you have a right to judicial review if you are nonretained. Normally, if you are nonretained, a hearing is held within three to six months. The school district's attorney and the defendant's attorney will call witnesses and make a case. The case will be delivered to a hearing officer and the teacher will be adjudicated. If the outcome of that hearing is not in favor of the teacher, the teacher has a right to a trial de novo in superior court. This means a new trial. Number 1620 MR. ROSE said that normally that trial takes place in three to four years. A new trial means that anything put on the record during the hearing is not admissible in the new trial. This is a new trial. Attorneys must find people who may have graduated or moved, three to four years later. Another issue is the judge may not be educated on what is going on in the school districts. A hearing officer normally has some idea of the operations of school districts. MR. ROSE said basically, what happens is this: Three to four years later, the record must be recreated and the school board's case for nonretention must be substantiated. If the atmosphere under which the nonretention occurred cannot be recreated, and the decision is overturned, the teacher is normally paid for the years that he or she was not working. The teacher is then placed back into the classroom, never to be reprimanded again for fear of harassment charges. MR. ROSE assured the HESS Committee members that this is a very real situation. He allowed that these are the worst-case scenarios, but these things are crippling the school districts. The AASB is asking people to understand what the trial de novo does. Tenured teachers receive this privilege when no other state employee does. State employees go through the hearing process. They have a right to appeal to a superior court. The superior court reviews the record of the agency's hearing and decides whether the state employee's due process rights have been abridged. If not, the case stands. They do not get a new trial. Number 1681 MR. ROSE provided the committee with an example. Currently, O.J. Simpson is being tried for murder. A record is being established right now. Should he be convicted and want to appeal to a higher court, he would never be able to ask for a new hearing where none of the record was admissible for the court's review. The principles of jurisprudence would never allow this. MR. ROSE said currently, the system allows a disgruntled tenured teacher to have a trial de novo. This is very costly. In addition, there is often a failure on the part of the district to recreate the same atmosphere four years later. Finally, the district has already "shown its hand" during the hearing process. The defendant knows the evidence against him or her. He or she now has the opportunity to defend him or herself three or four years later because the school district cannot alter the record. The school district is bound by the record and cannot introduce new information. MR. ROSE stressed that this situation is very restrictive. He did not know if the HESS Committee members were aware of this. However, people involved in schools are scared to nonretain a tenured teacher for fear of this situation. The issue is really one of quality instruction in the classroom. MR. ROSE said the AASB has been trying to have the de novo issue addressed for many years. Currently, it is in a bill that has been before the legislators for the last two sessions. The AASB is trying to address things that need to be in place so the quality of education can be improved. Number 1780 MR. ROSE made one last point under the layoff provision. There is a point in the bill that speaks about program need. Currently, certificated employees of the state are endorsed by either elementary or secondary endorsements. Legally, if a person has an elementary or secondary endorsement, he or she is legally deemed an appropriate classroom instructor. The question for instruction purposes needs to be whether elementary and secondary endorsements are more appropriate than subject area endorsements. MR. ROSE said the AASB supports subject area endorsements. It would like to see HB 217 shown to the DOE. It wants the DOE to promulgate regulations and put together a system that recognizes subject area endorsements rather than just elementary and secondary. The reason is that the AASB believes the best form of instruction in the future will lay with subject area endorsements. Based on multiple endorsements, a person provides him or herself with job security. MR. ROSE said right now, elementary and secondary endorsements are not high enough standards to address instruction in the classroom. The AASB would like to see that changed. That portion of HB 217 is misunderstood. MR. ROSE said the issue of program need cannot be addressed with the passage of this bill. School districts need to have this program, however. It takes time to develop the recommendations and the framework that establishes certification standards for endorsements. If these things can be accomplished in a period of two to three years, Mr. Rose can foresee subject area endorsements being part of the layoff provision. As it stands right now, it will not work. Number 1821 MR. ROSE said the AASB has been talking to the DOE for some time. The layoff provision has not yet been addressed. Mr. Rose thinks until the DOE is directed by legislation to develop those provisions, the DOE will not move. Number 1833 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked if a tenured teacher who had been laid off would be the first hired under the provisions of HB 217 when funding or enrollment increases. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said he could not fully answer that question. But his feeling was that if a position opened, he did not see why a laid-off teacher would not be brought back into the system if he or she was a competent teacher, and if he or she knew the people and the district. He suspects such a teacher would be the school district's first preference. MR. ROSE envisions that tenure would not be lost under this layoff provision. Seniority status would not be lost. Hopefully, by the time a layoff provision comes through, the AASB will be able to establish subject endorsements. If a position came open, the district would check its rehire list. A teacher who had multiple endorsements and seniority would presumably receive that position. Number 1900 MR. ROSE said the issue is really with subject endorsements. Seniority will prevail in any layoff/rehire situation. The AASB wants to protect tenure and seniority rights. It does not want to nonretain anyone. The ability to hire off the layoff list should be based on endorsements. Number 1914 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if historically, tenure rights were placed to protect free speech for professors and institutions of learning. There was a substantial threat to the academic integrity of professors and teachers that could be compromised. MR. ROSE said Representative Rokeberg was correct. The issues of academic freedom and the protection of that freedom is one of the reasons for tenure. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if there was a free speech problem occurring in kindergartens in Alaska. MR. ROSE said he supposed the HESS Committee members will hear testimony that suggests that. Mr. Rose does not view this freedom of speech issue as a problem. He does see some very restrictive statutes that do not provide the AASB with the opportunity to function the way it would like. REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE suggested there are problems with threats against freedom of speech. For instance, he knows of an Alaskan state senator who asked that certain teachers be removed because students were writing letters which were in opposition to the senator's views. Things like this still happen. Number 1995 MR. ROSE said HB 217 is addressing the acquisition of teachers, layoff, and de novo. It is not asking for the repeal of tenure. He recognizes that tenure is an important part of the status quo in education. What this bill is trying to do is accommodate tenure and still be able to manage the school district. Number 2010 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said he recently spoke with some of his former principals. These principals said they never had any problem finding out which teachers were good or bad, because they made the effort to visit the classrooms. They asked questions and performed the appropriate evaluations. This was never a problem for them. Representative Brice asked why principals now cannot do their job and evaluate these people in a timely manner, whereas principals 10 and 20 years ago could perform these tasks. He said that perhaps this issue needs to be addressed. MR. ROSE replied he would not speak for principals. He knows that the cost of administration is high. Former Juneau Mayor and Superintendent Bill Overstreet was very concerned about how much administration was required today. He said that when he was a superintendent, he and three other administrators ran the entire district. Mr. Rose submitted to the HESS Committee members that 25 years ago, there were not as many mandates in place as there are today. MR. ROSE said that schools are under siege, not only from unfunded mandates, but from tremendous mandates that must be met. Most of these mandates require the AASB to comply or else funding will be lost. The penalties are the same whether the noncompliance is a small or large issue. MR. ROSE continued that there is a tremendous responsibility for administration. The workload is quite large. The ability to observe classrooms is hindered somewhat. Mr. Rose will not say it cannot be done, but there are other priorities in the school district now. But for the most part, this observation is not a problem until nonretainment is attempted. This is a very costly problem. The system is very cut and dry concerning what can and cannot be done once tenure has been granted. Number 2102 MR. ROSE said the unfairness comes when a young teacher is never given the opportunity to show what they can do before a verdict on tenure is given. Normally, the verdict is to nonretain unless the administration is absolutely sure that this new teacher possesses the ability to be successful. Mr. Rose thinks it is unfair to expect that in 16 to 18 months of performance. And not all of that performance takes place in the classroom. Number 2122 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if this bill would impact urban and rural areas of Alaska differently. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said villages are very far removed, and there are many rules, regulations, statutes and laws that must be followed. In addition, English is the second language in many of these areas. When village advisory school boards meet, they find the statutes that govern tenure laws or education are complicated. When village or regional school boards try to develop an educational plan, there is a large fear of the unknown rules, regulations and statutes. They fear liability through the necessary removal of teachers. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN believes this legislation will give some flexibility and assurances to everyone concerned--parents, children, the community, teachers and administrators--that the state is trying to develop a flexible environment. The environment must be flexible in the face of declining revenues and enrollment which affect the rights of tenured teachers. Number 2200 CO-CHAIR BUNDE understood that first and second year teachers can be fired essentially at the whim of the school board. MR. ROSE disagreed, and said that many of the same standards used for tenured teachers have to be followed for the nonretainment of a first or second year instructor. However, these individuals do not have to be provided with a hearing. The teachers do have due process rights, however. CO-CHAIR BUNDE said the bottom line is that if the school board decides not to retain a first or second year instructor, they are gone. He asked if there were numbers on how many first and second year teachers are not retained. MR. ROSE said he did not have exact numbers, but the number has grown considerably in the last five to ten years. Number 2235 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked how many districts and people were involved in the de novo trials. MR. ROSE answered that documentation is in the bill packets. The de novo trials spoken of involve seven cases in five school districts. He reminded HESS Committee members that some of those trials are still unresolved, and those are not the only nonretention cases that are presently occurring. These are only happening in the five school districts that the AASB contacted. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked about the history of the de novo trial. The privilege is different from that of other state employees. Co- Chair Bunde wondered why there originally was a difference. MR. ROSE did not know. It has been a part of tenure law since the inception of tenure. The only concern of the AASB is that it and the school districts are political subdivisions of the state. If they were recognized, like other state agencies, those hearings would be a matter of the record. The rules have changed when it comes to tenure. TAPE 95-15, SIDE B Number 024 SHEILA PETERSEN, Special assistant to the Commissioner of Education, DOE, said all of the areas addressed in HB 217 have been issues for many years. Much of the public testimony that was taken during a recent Alaska 2000 initiative dealt with tenure and tenure rights. Comments were heard from both sides, for and against change of tenure. MS. PETERSEN said that many felt two years was too short. As Mr. Rose indicated, it was felt that additional time was needed to make that judgement. HESS Committee members may be aware that last year the DOE did propose to change tenure determinations to include some parental and public involvement. It is still a concern that the public, who owns the educational system, presently has no mechanism to become involved in the process of acquiring tenure. Number 109 MS. PETERSEN said it is important that these issues be discussed and that everyone have their opinions and concerns expressed. As Mr. Rose and Representative Ivan indicated, HB 217 allows layoff status for tenured teachers. The DOE is charged with promulgating these regulations that will set procedures for this layoff process. If HB 217 is passed, the DOE would approach this writing of regulations very cautiously. The State Board of Education (SBE) would seek input from all sources on how to write these procedures. MS. PETERSEN said the SBE would encourage educational organizations, the general public, parents and students to let the DOE and the SBE know how these regulations should be written. HB 217 does represent a change from the status quo. This change needs to be looked at and analyzed very thoroughly. However, sometimes change is necessary. MS. PETERSEN said the Governor's and the DOE's paramount concern with education is the funding. They would like to see the legislature appropriate full funding for education, so the education available to students is excellent. However, if full funding is not available, the DOE feels that the school districts need to have all the tools and options available to them to make the right choices. Maybe the changes in HB 217 will be in the right direction. MS. PETERSEN remembered that Co-Chair Bunde said he did not plan on passing the bill today. If there is a group set aside to work on the legislation, the DOE would be very interested in offering support and suggestions. Number 281 CO-CHAIR BUNDE thanked Ms. Petersen and the DOE for that offer, and promised that an invitation will be extended. He asked if the DOE would still support a tenure review committee that incorporated public members. MS. PETERSEN responded that there is a new state board, and a new commissioner that is starting work on Monday, March 13. Therefore, a formal position has not been taken. However, the board and the commissioner are leaning toward increased parent involvement. They have not looked at having a peer review committee for tenure or having parent input, but they would like to extend the tenure option to include the input of parents. Number 340 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked if Ms. Petersen could give a history of the de novo issue and why it exists in the first place. MS. PETERSEN apologized and said she could not. She just heard the comments of Mr. Rose, but exactly why it was established that way, she does not know. She also mentioned that the DOE does not maintain statistics on the number of teachers that have or have not acquired tenure. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked if the restraints in the teaching system came about because of the union representation. She asked why there are such restraints with the teaching profession. If a person goes to school and gets a law or nursing degree, he or she does not receive such privileges as this. She asked who has done this to the state and to the teachers. Number 421 MS. PETERSEN said she could only hazard a guess that at the beginning, education was seen as a place to experiment and espouse views that might be contrary to the establishment. Possibly, tenure grew up because of that. Educators wanted some protection to assure that teachers would feel comfortable enough to buck society and the establishment for the betterment and growth of their students and for personal growth. CO-CHAIR BUNDE observed that tenure is mostly based on academic freedom rather than job security. However, one leads to the other. Depending on the individual, one portion is more important than the other. MS. PETERSEN said that as far as reduction of attendance, she can only presume that when that was put into statute, there was a feeling that if there was a reduction in revenue, there would also be a reduction in attendance. It may have been assumed that both issues were being addressed at the time when "reduction of attendance" was being written. It may not have been projected that there would be increased enrollment but decreased revenue. Number 540 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked Ms. Petersen to speculate on what would happen if the curriculum for all first through eighth grade students in the state was the same. She asked if the problem would then be eliminated. She asked if a standardized curriculum would eliminate the fear that educators are teaching children ridiculous things. CO-CHAIR BUNDE said there are districts where an educator might feel that teaching HIV/AIDS would result in his or her being fired. He does not think the state wants to mandate one curricula for all districts. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said there are different factions with different opinions about what should be taught in schools. Number 633 MS. PETERSEN explained that our system of education is strongly controlled at the local level, not at the state level. With that local control, the curriculum is decided locally as well. That is a cornerstone of Alaska's education system. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said if a teacher is hired by a school district to represent the feelings of that district and the community, then the teacher should also be fired for not teaching what that district deems fit. She asked Ms. Petersen if that was correct. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked Co-Chair Toohey what would happen if the district wanted the teacher to teach that the moon is made of green cheese. MS. PETERSEN explained that under current statutes, if a teacher has tenure, as Mr. Rose indicated, there are four reasons they can be fired. Prior to acquiring tenure, a teacher can be fired for other reasons. That has been established through state guidelines. Number 695 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked Ms. Petersen if she has any idea how many certified yet unemployed teachers there are in the state of Alaska. MS. PETERSEN said she did not have exact figures, but the numbers are very substantial. She could get the exact number, and there are many certified teachers employed in other professions or who have chosen not to teach. It is also possible that many teachers are unemployed. There is a large pool from which to draw certified teachers. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG clarified that therefore, there was no shortage of teachers. MS. PETERSEN said there may be shortages in certain areas of the state, and in certain areas of expertise. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY joined the meeting at 4:10 p.m. CO-CHAIR BUNDE interjected that when Wasilla wanted to open a new school they needed 30 teachers. They had 3,000 applicants. In many places in rural Alaska, they still must recruit teachers from the Lower 48 because they cannot find teachers who live in Alaska that may want to work in the rural areas. Number 800 STEVE McPHETRES, Executive Director of the Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA), said he would like to be testifying for full funding for education. He truly believes that the short-funding of education will be far more devastating than what HB 217 allows. However, he hopes the arena will soon be created so he can testify on that. MR. McPHETRES said that his organization has, over the years, passed resolutions wishing for the extension of tenure to three to five years. In response to the questions of the HESS Committee members concerning the length of time needed for observation, when Bill Overstreet was superintendent of the Juneau schools, the district had very few students. Since then, the enrollment numbers have doubled, tripled and quadrupled. The need for administration has compounded. Number 865 MR. McPHETRES graduated from Juneau Douglas High School (JDHS) with 63 other students in his class. Now, JDHS graduating classes number 300 students. The education profession has become more complex. If one looks at the teacher training colleges, the preparation of teachers, the philosophies and the research, one looks at teachers who are very well prepared and seated in education philosophies for individual children, and also founded in sound research. MR. McPHETRES said a few years ago, that research was not available to education students. Now, people talk about how the brain works, how the right and left sides of the brain interact, and all the things that scientific research has proven. Young people now have more technical knowledge than education students of the past. MR. McPHETRES said there is a time of adjustment for new teachers when they enter a classroom. The first year of teaching is probably the most unique experience a person could have. He has experienced it several times, and his daughter experienced it this last year. Her experience was like a roller coaster. She often called her father in tears, or she would call him with the news that something had worked in the classroom. The first year requires time for a person to become seated in their philosophy and the direction they want to take within the school. Number 950 MR. McPHETRES said it is really unfair to pile the pressure of the possibility of tenure on that new teacher in the first year. The teacher is already nervous. They are taking all their philosophies, knowledge and experience into the classroom and presenting it to 28 little children who have no idea about the level of education this individual has. MR. McPHETRES would like to see a mentoring program set up, in which a new teacher works with an older, more experienced teacher. In addition, tenure should be extended so there is more time to review performance and development. This would be in the best interest of the kids and the schools, and a stronger person will come out of the evaluative process. MR. McPHETRES said there are times when some people slip through the cracks, but for the most part, he believes there are some extremely fine administrators in the state that are doing their job. They are in the classroom at every opportunity. It is difficult, with all the regulations and parents and outside issues, to fill the new roles. This does take time away from observation. Number 1020 MR. McPHETRES said that members of his organization have talked at conferences and meetings to principals and assistant principals. This is an issue and the ACSA will continue to move it forward. The ACSA will continue to raise these issues at the Capitol. The ACSA does support the extension of tenure. MR. McPHETRES commented on the removal of a tenured teacher due to financial issues. He said that is an issue the ACSA has also supported over the years, particularly as districts have experienced decreasing enrollments. School districts across the state have reduced budgets for the last eight years. In some arenas and in the press it has been said it is time for education to "take a hit." MR. McPHETRES stressed education HAS been taking hits, but the hits have been local or statewide for at least the last eight years. It is getting to a point now where all that is left are tenured teachers and administrators. It is a matter of "where do we go from here." Staff cannot be reduced. The schools are not losing enrollment, they are gaining enrollment. Therefore, the ACSA supports and would like to further discuss revenue shortfalls to release tenured employees. Number 1090 MR. McPHETRES said the ACSA is in an arena of discussion as far as subject certification. In the last several years, the issue of subject versus level certification has been an issue approached by a certification process task force between the ACSA and the DOE. Mr. McPhetres says that for the ACSA, the area of level certification is still more attractive. As the state looks at staff reduction and combining disciplines and training particularly in small schools, flexibility is needed to put people into areas that need to be covered at that time. MR. McPHETRES said a teacher who is teaching grades one through four must have multiple disciplines. In high school, a person may be teaching social studies, science and maybe a math course. This issue needs to be looked at more cautiously. Number 1148 MR. McPHETRES concluded by hoping that the legislature would fully fund education. Number 1158 CO-CHAIR BUNDE summarized Mr. McPhetres' testimony. The ACSA supports an expansion of the review period, although they are not in opposition to the concept of tenure. Co-Chair Bunde asked if Mr. McPhetres has any knowledge of the history of the de novo trial, and why it exists. MR. McPHETRES did not. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked if Mr. McPhetres knew how many first and second year teachers are not retained. MR. McPHETRES did not have those figures. Number 1197 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked if there was any way to get that information. Mr. McPhetres said yes, and said he would get that information for Co-Chair Toohey. Co-Chair Toohey also asked if Mr. McPhetres would object to having tenured teachers who have been laid off be first hired back. MR. McPHETRES said that was usually standard practice in school districts. They all have policies that do allow for layoff provisions. These policies cover re-hire. These issues are usually already in existence in school policy. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked if those issues were in law, and Mr. McPhetres said no, they were not laid down in law. They are in policy. Number 1226 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG drew comparisons between Mr. McPhetres' description of a first year teacher and that chaotic experience, and the experience of a first year representative. He also facetiously asked if a legislator deserves tenure after two years. MR. McPHETRES said a legislator serves at the pleasure of the public. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG also asked what Mr. McPhetres meant by "full funding." MR. McPHETRES said ideally, full funding is a minimum of a $63,000 instructional unit value. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if that would be an increase in full funding. MR. McPHETRES said actually, that would allow for full funding, because it gets the schools past the inflation-proofing, and what districts would have this year or next year. Number 1300 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG commented that everyone has a different definition of full funding. MR. McPHETRES said that all the money will go to a very worthwhile cause, which is children. REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON asked if there has ever been a situation in which the teachers, parents, administrators and the school board have created a task force to discuss these issues. It seems like these issues are always the responsibility of the legislature. MR. McPHETRES said unfortunately, a lot of this is done through negotiation processes. He recently attended a community meeting where there were a lot of parents. The administration and the school board were also there. Unfortunately, there were not enough teachers present. Many of the issues spoken of today were discussed. This did not happen, however, on a statewide level. MR. McPHETRES does believe that these issues can be classified as negotiable and non-negotiable through labor relations. Number 1361 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON summarized that therefore, nothing has ever happened on a statewide level where experts have met. Mr. McPhetres indicated that such meetings have happened. Number 1385 CLAUDIA DOUGLAS, President of the National Education Association (NEA) Alaska, said she does not yet have a written response to this bill. She will prepare something and present it to the HESS Committee members. She said the bill does many things in terms of employment issues for teachers. MS. DOUGLAS said NEA does support tenure for teachers. NEA feels that tenure protects academic freedom in the community, it gives teachers an opportunity to impact knowledge and critical thinking skills to children, it protects schools from becoming a place where the spoils of bureaucracy are dumped, and it protects schools and teachers from assaults by political pressure groups. There are many more reasons to support tenure, and they will be included in her prepared statement. MS. DOUGLAS said in the last few years, when bills have been introduced regarding Alaska 2000, there have been a few opportunities for school boards, NEA Alaska, principals and the DOE to meet and talk about increasing the tenure probationary period from two to three years. This was worked on for a couple of years. She felt that if the probationary period was extended by a third year, there would be some guarantees on evaluations and procedures for new teachers. Number 1450 MS. DOUGLAS said unfortunately, there was no resolution concerning what would happen during that extra probationary year. She has a statement from rural educators that she will include in her report to the HESS Committee members. The rural educators feel that one of the reasons they have been very interested in keeping a two-year tenure in rural Alaska is to increase stability in the schools and the communities and to ensure that teachers will be allowed to stay in a community long enough to develop an appreciation and awareness of local culture. In many cases, that requires a minimum of two years. Ms. Douglas does not feel that someone can move into a small community and understand the culture immediately. Number 1481 MS. DOUGLAS said that increasingly, Alaska Native students and college graduates are being offered a wide range of career opportunities. To attract them to teaching, they must be offered some sort of security and an opportunity to be in a system where job security exists. Native teachers need to have access to positions anywhere in the state, and they need to be protected from discriminatory personnel practices. MS. DOUGLAS had many questions about the section of the bill regarding layoff procedures. She asked how many nontenured teachers are laid off every year, and if that number was increasing significantly over the years. She is also concerned about the statement in the bill that reads, "...to better the academic program needs of the district." She wants to know exactly what that statement means, and what the parameters of that would be in the local school district. Does that mean keeping the hockey coach because he is able to teach history as opposed to a kindergarten class? Number 1537 MS. DOUGLAS had questions about how long layoff provisions for tenured teachers would last. In other words, would there be a time limit set for the layoff period? In addition, would the first person on the layoff list be the first person hired again? MS. DOUGLAS asked who would verify claims of decreasing revenue. She asked if there was going to be an agency that would verify these claims. Right now, Ms. Douglas does not think there are any bills that have been or are going to be introduced that are decreasing the dollars to schools this year, or for next year. Currently, she understands that there are no decreases in revenue. She understands that the school districts are being held harmless. She asked what "decrease in revenue" means, if it means a decrease in the amount of money that is allotted per pupil. Ms. Douglas said the bill evokes many issues and questions. CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked if Ms. Douglas had a knowledge of the history of the de novo trial. Number 1590 MS. DOUGLAS said she did not know. But she would like to prepare a statement concerning HB 217. She would like to work with school boards. She understands there is a need in the state and there are demands for change. But tenure has been something that has allowed teachers to enter a classroom or community with a sense of openness and academic freedom. However, it is not a lifetime guarantee of employment. The people of Alaska do not want incompetent teachers in the schools. What is needed are people who care about kids. Number 1610 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked how Ms. Douglas could say that it is not a lifetime guaranteed position. MS. DOUGLAS said it is not easy to fire a tenured teacher. In the first two years, however, the school districts can nonretain a nontenured teacher for just about any reason, unless something different has been negotiated in the teacher's contract. According to state law, there is no requirement for keeping those nontenured teachers. MS. DOUGLAS responded to Co-Chair Toohey's earlier question. If the teacher is teaching something the school board does not approve of, often school boards change through elections. Then, what the teacher is teaching may be considered acceptable. Or, an administration may have hired someone they thought was wonderful, and new people arrive on the school board and the teacher may be laid off. She or he now has a different philosophy from that of the school board. That is not the intent of the bill, and that is not why teachers should be laid off. MS. DOUGLAS said if someone is incompetent, or if they are not following district laws or the written laws of the superintendent, a teacher can be laid off or nonretained. Number 1666 VERNON MARSHALL, Executive Director of NEA Alaska, was asked by Co- Chair Bunde to speak briefly on de novo or prepare a short written statement on this subject. MR. MARSHALL explained the entire tenure law must be put into a context of time. The courts and the profession are determining a lot about the tenure law through the court process. Mr. Marshall said he would address three items in the tenure law: Failure to follow the rules, incompetence and immorality. Case law is developing definitions of immorality and incompetence. To change the de novo trial now would, in a sense, sidetrack that process. CO-CHAIR BUNDE said that a working group was being formed, and he wanted to work with the state school board, the new school board and the new superintendent to craft a bill that makes everyone happy. Co-Chair Bunde wanted to know why Alaska has a de novo trial for teachers when other state employees do not have this privilege. Number 1736 MR. MARSHALL said to keep in mind the three reasons he mentioned for nonretainment. Both incompetence and immorality, if they are proven, could lead to the revocation of a teacher's certificate. Alaska has a Professional Teaching and Practices Commission (PTPC) that functions to revoke licenses at the end of this process. So the teacher who spends a minimum of four years preparing for a certificate has a likelihood that their certificate will be revoked. MR. MARSHALL said because the whole process can result in the revocation of a license, the question is, can a person get a fair, unbiased hearing before a school board. Mr. Marshall said there were many issues also involved in school board elections. To resolve this issue, the de novo trial was introduced as a method to deal with this. The court would then bring the nonretention situation to a judge. The opportunity to present facts is provided. MR. MARSHALL said if the principal of the district charges a teacher with incompetence, a teacher will try to bring in professionals who can appear before an impartial judge to outline where the teacher is competent or incompetent. The de novo trial offers the opportunity for the facts of the case to be heard before an impartial judge. The case is decided based on the facts that are presented by the school district and the defense for the teacher. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE left the meeting at 4:30 p.m. Number 1833 CO-CHAIR BUNDE noted that time will be needed for a work group to meet and exchange ideas on this bill. He closed public testimony. REPRESENTATIVE IVAN commented that he would like to expand the title of the bill to tighten it up. He is looking into a title change. CO-CHAIR BUNDE agreed that the title of the bill is quite broad. He said that the bill would be studied by a subcommittee, to which he will belong. He asked the DOE, the State Board of Education, NEA Alaska, the school board representative, the representative from the school administration and any other interested parties to meet on the issues of the bill. CO-CHAIR BUNDE still does not know why de novo is in place for tenured teachers only, and not other state workers. He knows what it does, but he does not know why it is there. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if Co-Chair Bunde was going to be the only member in his subcommittee of one. He said he was going to chair a subcommittee of one. She also asked if anyone who was interested could join the subcommittee. Co-Chair Bunde said everyone was welcome, and he wanted to make sure the invitation was available to all members of the education community. CO-CHAIR BUNDE recalled that he was a member of a two-year task force on rewriting the teacher certification. It drew in people from all aspects of education. He assured Representative Robinson that there has been group discussion to solve wide-reaching education problems.