School Law Bulletin #2008/03

Nonrenewal of Probationary Teachers

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Probationary public school teachers in North Carolina hold one-year contracts that school boards may decline to renew for any rational, nondiscriminatory reason. The standard for nonrenewal of probationary teachers is far less stringent than that for dismissal of teachers who have completed their probationary service and earned career status. Career status, commonly called tenure, carries a constitutionally protected interest in future employment. Dismissal of a career-status teacher requires compliance with a host of due process pro- tections outlined in the North Carolina General Statutes (hereinafter G. S.).

In contrast, probationary teachers are not entitled to due process or to pre-nonrenewal hearings to challenge a recommendation for contract nonrenewal. Under G.S. 115C-325(n) they do have, however, the right to judicial review of the school board’s nonrenewal decision. School boards can prepare for legal challenges to nonrenewal deci- sions by providing probationary teachers with ample feed- back on performance and an avenue for raising complaints. This article discusses past legal challenges to nonrenewal decisions and suggests strategies that districts can use to prepare for future nonrenewals of probationary teachers.

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Public Officials - Local and State Government Roles