RS 17:443     

§443.  Discipline of teachers; procedure; right of review

A.  The school superintendent may take disciplinary action against any nontenured teacher after providing such teacher with the written reasons therefor and providing the teacher the opportunity to respond.  The teacher shall have seven days to respond, and such response shall be included in the teacher's personnel file.  The superintendent shall notify the teacher in writing of his final decision.  Within sixty days of such notice, the teacher may seek summary review in a district court pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Article 2592.  The district court's review shall be limited to determining whether the action taken by the superintendent was arbitrary or capricious.

B.(1)  A teacher with tenure shall not be disciplined except upon written and signed charges by the superintendent or his designee of poor performance, willful neglect of duty, incompetency, dishonesty, immorality, or of being a member of or contributing to any group, organization, movement, or corporation that is by law or injunction prohibited from operating in the state of Louisiana, and then only if furnished with a copy of such written charges and given the opportunity to respond. The teacher shall have ten calendar days from written notice of the charges to respond, in person or in writing.  Following review of the teacher's response, the superintendent may take interim disciplinary action, which may include placing the teacher on administrative leave.  The teacher shall not be placed on administrative leave without pay unless the teacher has been arrested for a violation of any of the following: R.S. 14:42 through 43.5, 80 through 81.5, any other sexual offense affecting minors, any of the crimes provided in R.S. 15:587.1, or any justified complaint of child abuse or neglect on file in the central registry pursuant to Children's Code Article 615.  Within ten calendar days after written notice of the interim disciplinary action or within ten calendar days after receipt of the teacher's response if no interim disciplinary action is taken, a teacher may request a hearing before a disciplinary hearing officer.  If the teacher fails to timely request a hearing, the disciplinary action becomes final.

(2)(a)  Upon request for a review hearing, the superintendent shall randomly appoint a hearing officer from a list of persons previously approved by the school board to serve as "disciplinary hearing officers" for the school board.  The school board shall maintain a list of at least five hearing officers for districts of fewer than twenty thousand students and a list of at least ten hearing officers for districts with more than twenty thousand students according to the February first student membership count.  If a school board fails to maintain such a list, a superintendent may randomly appoint a hearing officer from a list of persons previously approved by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.  Only the following persons may serve as a disciplinary hearing officer: a mediator qualified under R.S. 9:4106, an arbitrator approved by the American Arbitration Association or the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, an attorney, or a retired member of the judiciary.

(b)  Such hearing may be private or public, at the option of the teacher, and shall commence no sooner than ten calendar days nor later than thirty calendar days after receipt of the teacher's request for such hearing.  For purposes of this Section, the disciplinary hearing officer shall have the power to issue subpoenas.  The school board shall adopt and maintain procedures to govern the conduct of the hearing, which shall include, at a minimum, a method for the examination of witnesses and the introduction of evidence and for the presence of a court reporter and maintenance of the court reporter's record.  The teacher shall have the right to appear before the disciplinary hearing officer with witnesses on his behalf and with counsel of his selection.  The disciplinary hearing officer shall hold a hearing and review on whether the interim decision of the superintendent was arbitrary or capricious and shall either affirm or reverse the action of the superintendent.  The disciplinary hearing officer shall notify the superintendent and the teacher of his final determination, with written reasons, within ten days from the date of the hearing. If the superintendent's disciplinary action is affirmed, it shall become effective upon the teacher's receipt of the decision of the disciplinary hearing officer.  If the superintendent's disciplinary action is reversed, the teacher shall be restored to duty.

(3)  Within sixty days from the postmarked date of written notification of the decision of the disciplinary hearing officer, the school board or the teacher may petition a court of competent jurisdiction to review the matter as a summary proceeding pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Article 2592.  The court shall determine, based on the record of the disciplinary review hearing, whether the disciplinary hearing officer abused his discretion in deciding whether the action of the superintendent was arbitrary or capricious.  If the action of the superintendent is reversed by the court and the teacher is ordered reinstated and restored to duty, the teacher shall be entitled to full pay for any loss of time or salary he may have sustained by reason of the action of the superintendent.

C.  For the purposes of this Section, immorality shall mean any conviction of a felony offense affecting the public morals enumerated in Part V of Chapter 1 of Title 14 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950.

D.  The time periods contained in this Section may be extended by mutual agreement of the parties.  However, paid administrative leave as provided in Paragraph (B)(1) of this Section shall not exceed fifty days from notice of the superintendent's interim decision.

Amended by Acts 1956, No. 249, §1; Acts 1972, No. 329, §1; Acts 1980, No. 631, §1; Acts 2003, No. 273, §1; Acts 2012, No. 1, §3, eff. July 1, 2012; Acts 2014, No. 570, §1, eff. June 9, 2014.