News Story

Tricky Tenure Hurdles Block Schools from Removing Problem Teachers

The Ann Arbor Public Schools is trying to fire a Huron High School orchestra teacher who is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student, according to

Chris Mark, a 45-year-old teacher, told the student in an e-mail that he loved her and would give her a passing grade with full credit as long as she would “show up.” But if she didn’t do this, Mark also wrote that he that “can’t be held responsible for the wrath I will bring” if the student “blew him off.”

Liz Margolis, spokesperson for the Ann Arbor Public Schools, said the teachers’ union contract allows Mark to choose arbitration in lieu of appearing before an administrative law judge.

Michael Van Beek, the education policy director for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said the process of firing a tenured teacher can get complicated.

The Ann Arbor teachers’ union contract states this procedure:

  1. Teacher is notified of the complaint and is given 24 hours to respond. Teachers are entitled to know the identity or source and details of the complaint.
  2. If the complaint is placed in the central personnel file, the teacher is offered a hearing.
  3. The teacher has the option to appeal a reprimand to the Superintendent.
  4. Any disciplinary action imposed by the Board on any teacher may be processed as a grievance.
  5.  If such action includes discharge of a tenured teacher, the teacher may choose to appeal the Superintendent’s decision to the Michigan Tenure Commission or an arbitrator.

After step 5 is reached, and once a teacher files an appeal to the Tenure Commission, it can then take as long as 320 days for an appeal to be finalized.

Van Beek found that it can take as many as 13 steps for one school district to fire a tenured teacher.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.