John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD
Note: When serving on the Clayton County (Georgia) Board of Education, Norreese Haynes proposed and secured a unanimous vote for this Teacher Bill of Rights. But, today, the current superintendent and school board just ignore this policy which garnered much media attention when it was initially passed. (Has this Teacher Bill of Rights been mysteriously set aside?) Each school board in non-collective bargaining states should pass such a policy and actually abide by it. Elbert County (with Chairman Ben Baker), McDuffie County (with Superintendent Mychele Rhodes), Hart County (with Superintendent Jerry Bell), Murray County (with Superintendent Vickie Reed), Muscogee County (with Superintendent David Lewis), Fulton County (with Superintendent Robert Avossa), Lovejoy High School (Clayton County), and many other locations in Georgia could use a good dose of this Teacher Bill of Rights. Representative Darryl Jordan in two different years dropped a bill for this Teacher Bill of Rights in the hopper in the Georgia General Assembly. (Representative Jordan was a MACE Member from MACE’s first week of inception in 1995 and remained a loyal MACE Member until his recent retirement as a school teacher. MACE has two other MACE Members in the General Assembly, one still active as a teacher who serves in the State House, the Honorable Sandra Givens Scott, and the other is a retired teacher in the State Senator, the Honorable Michael Rhett.) Here is a copy of MACE’s Teacher Bill of Rights.
Where not inconsistent with Georgia law, federal laws and regulations (including IDEA 2004 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act), or State Board Rules, the Board endorses the following rights for each full-time teacher serving in Clayton County Public Schools.
(1) Each teacher shall have the right to associate with an educational organization, association, or union. This freedom of association shall not be abridged and a teacher shall not suffer reprisal for exercising this right;
(2) Teachers shall have the right to express constructive criticism in an appropriate and professional manner and, where not in conflict with the adopted curriculum and/or board/school policies and procedures, school board members and administrators shall respect the right of teachers to exercise professional judgment and independent thought in the improvement of the educational system;
(3) A teacher shall not be coerced, threatened, or intimidated to change a student’s grade if the teacher can demonstrate that the student earned the grade in accordance with the school’s grading procedures;
(4) If a teacher, in her/his professional judgment, states that a student needs to be removed from that regular classroom environment for a period of time or the remainder of the school day, as the case may be, because the student’s misconduct is materially and substantially disrupting the learning processes of other students, the administrator shall respect the teacher’s professional judgment. At a minimum, the administrator shall not return the student to that classroom on that day unless the teacher has otherwise indicated. The administrator shall not unnecessarily undermine the teacher’s disciplinary authority in the classroom. Notwithstanding anything else in this policy, an administrator, after investigation, may take appropriate action against a teacher who may abuse the right to remove a student from the classroom;
(5) No administrator shall write a negative job rating on a teacher based on hearsay evidence from a statement(s) by students, parents, or fellow teachers or administrators, et al., without first giving the teacher the opportunity to state her/his side of the story;
(6) Each teacher shall be afforded the opportunity to participate in an annual evaluation of each administrator at his or her school. These evaluations shall be conducted in a way that assures each teacher confidentiality and anonymity. A summary (e.g., the average score for items on a Likert-type instrument) of these evaluations shall be forwarded to the superintendent who in turn shall send copies to each school board member;
(7) No teacher shall be discriminated against on the basis of the teacher’s race, sex, age, religion, nationality, disability, or exercise of the freedom of association;
(8) No teacher shall be the object of administrative favoritism nor shall the teacher be treated capriciously or arbitrarily. No teacher shall be exposed to unwarranted embarrassment.
(9) Each teacher shall be afforded access to an equitable transfer policy; and
(10) The teacher of the year at each school shall be nominated and selected solely by the anonymous votes of the teachers at the school.