Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/07/1995 03:10 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 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.                                                           
                                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects