Are You a Legal Professional?

Teachers' Rights: State and Local Laws

Each state provides laws governing education agencies, hiring and termination of teachers, tenure of teachers, and similar laws. Teachers should consult with statutes and education regulations in their respective states, as well as the education agencies that enforce these rules, for additional information regarding teachers' rights. Moreover, teachers should review their contracts, collective bargaining agreement, and/or employee handbook for specific provisions that may have been included in an agreement.

The information below summarizes the grounds on which a state may revoke or suspend a teaching certificate or on which a district may dismiss or suspend a teacher. See FindLaw's Teachers' Rights section for additional articles and resources.

ALABAMA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for immoral conduct, or unbecoming or indecent behavior. Teachers may be dismissed or suspended on similar grounds, except that tenured teachers may not be suspended or terminated on political grounds.

ALASKA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for incompetence, immorality, substantial noncompliance with school laws or regulations, violations of ethical or professional standards, or violations of contractual obligations. Teachers may be dismissed or suspended by local school boards on similar grounds.

ARIZONA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for immoral or unprofessional conduct, evidence of unfitness to teach, failure to comply with various statutory requirements, failure to comply with student disciplinary procedures, teaching sectarian books or doctrine, or conducting religious exercises. Teachers may be dismissed or suspended on similar grounds. Probationary employees may be dismissed when they are unsuited or not qualified. Permanent employees may be discharged only for cause, and are entitled to due process.

ARKANSAS: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for cause. Teachers may be dismissed for any cause that is not arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory.

CALIFORNIA: Permanent teachers may be dismissed for immoral or unprofessional conduct, dishonesty, incompetence, evident unfitness for service, a physical or mental condition unfitting for a teacher to instruct or associate with children, persistent violation of school laws or regulations, conviction of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude, or alcoholism or drug abuse rendering teacher unfit for service. Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended on the same grounds as those for dismissal or suspension.

COLORADO: Teacher's certificate may be annulled, revoked, or suspended if certificate has been obtained through fraud or misrepresentation; teacher is mentally incompetent; teacher violates statutes or regulations regarding unlawful sexual behavior, use of controlled substances, or other violations. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

CONNECTICUT: Teacher's certificate may be revoked if certificate has been obtained through fraud or misrepresentation; teacher has neglected duties or been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude; teacher has been neglectful of duties; or other due and sufficient cause exists. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

DELAWARE: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for immorality, misconduct in office, incompetence, willful neglect of duty, or disloyalty. Teachers may be dismissed or suspended on similar grounds.

FLORIDA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for obtaining certificate by fraud, incompetence, gross immorality or an act involving moral turpitude, revocation of a teaching certificate in another state, conviction of a crime other than a minor traffic violation, breach of teaching contract, or delinquency in child support obligations. Teachers may be dismissed or suspended on similar grounds.

GEORGIA: Teachers may be dismissed for incompetence, insubordination, willful neglect of duties, immorality, encouraging students to violate the law, failure to secure and maintain necessary educational training, and any other good and sufficient cause.

HAWAII: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for conviction of crime other than traffic offense or if the employer finds that teacher poses a risk to the health, safety, or well being of children. Teacher may be dismissed for inefficiency, immorality, willful violations of policies and regulations, or other good and just cause.

IDAHO: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for gross neglect of duty, incompetence, breach of contract, making a false statement on application for certificate, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude or drugs or a felony offense involving children. Grounds for revocation of a teacher's certificate are also grounds for dismissal.

ILLINOIS: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for immorality, health condition detrimental to students, incompetence, unprofessional conduct, neglect of duty, willful failure to report child abuse, conviction of certain sex or narcotics offenses, or other just cause. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

INDIANA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for immorality, misconduct in office, incompetence, willful neglect of duty, or improper cancellation of a contract. Permanent and semi-permanent teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

IOWA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for any cause that would have permitted refusal to grant the certificate. Teachers may be dismissed for just cause.

KANSAS: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for immorality, gross neglect of duty, annulling a written contract, or any other cause that would have justified refusal to grant the certificate.

KENTUCKY: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for immorality, misconduct in office, incompetence, willful neglect of duty, or submission of false information. Teachers may be dismissed or suspended on similar grounds.

LOUISIANA: Permanent teachers may be dismissed for incompetence, dishonest, willful neglect of duty, or membership or contribution to an unlawful organization.

MAINE: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for evidence of child abuse, gross incompetence, or fraud. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

MARYLAND: Teachers may be dismissed or suspended for immorality, misconduct in office, insubordination, incompetence, or willful neglect of duty.

MASSACHUSETTS: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for cause. Teachers may be dismissed for inefficiency, incapacity, conduct unbecoming of a teacher, insubordination, failure to satisfy teacher performance standards, or other just cause.

MICHIGAN: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for conviction of sex offenses and crimes involving children. Teachers may be dismissed for reasonable and just causes or failure to comply with school law.

MINNESOTA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for immoral character or conduct, failure to teach the term of a contract without just cause, gross inefficiency, willful neglect of duty, failure to meet requirements for licensing, or fraud or misrepresentation in obtaining a license. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

MISSISSIPPI: Teachers may be dismissed or suspended for incompetence, neglect of duty, immoral conduct, intemperance, brutal treatment of a pupil, or other good cause.

MISSOURI: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for incompetence, cruelty, immorality, drunkenness, neglect of duty, annulling a written contract without consent from the local board, or conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

MONTANA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for false statements on an application for the certificate, any reason that would have disqualified the person from receiving a certificate, incompetence, gross neglect of duty, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or nonperformance of an employment contract. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

NEBRASKA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for just cause, including incompetence immorality, intemperance, cruelty, certain crimes, neglect of duty, unprofessional conduct, physical or mental incapacity, or breach of contract. Teachers may be dismissed for just cause, as defined by statute.

NEVADA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for immoral or unprofessional conduct, unfitness for service, physical or mental incapacity, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude or sex offenses, advocacy of the overthrow of the government, persistent refusal to obey rules, or breach of a teaching contracts. Teachers may be dismissed or suspended on similar grounds.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Teachers may be dismissed for immorality, incompetence, failure to conform to regulations, or conviction of certain crimes.

NEW JERSEY: Teacher's certificate may be revoked if teacher is a non-citizen; certificate may be suspended if teacher breaches contract. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

NEW MEXICO: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for incompetence, immorality, or any other good and just cause. Teachers may be dismissed for good cause.

NEW YORK: Teacher's certificate may be revoked if teacher is unfit to teach due to moral character or if teacher fails to complete a school term without good cause. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

NORTH CAROLINA: Teachers may be dismissed for inadequate performance, immorality, insubordination, neglect of duty, physical or mental incapacity, habitual or excessive use of alcohol or other controlled substances, or conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude.

NORTH DAKOTA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for any cause that would permit refusal to issue the certificate, incompetence, immorality, intemperance, cruelty, commission of a crime, refusal to perform duties, violation of professional codes, breach of teacher contract, or wearing religious garb. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

OHIO: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for intemperance, immorality, incompetence, negligence, or other conduct unbecoming of the position. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds, including assisting a student to cheat on an achievement, ability, or proficiency test.

OKLAHOMA: Teachers may be dismissed for immorality, willful neglect of duty, cruelty, incompetence, teaching disloyalty to the U. S. government, moral turpitude, or criminal sexual activity.

OREGON: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for conviction of certain crimes (including sale or possession of a controlled substance), gross neglect of duty, gross unfitness, or wearing religious dress at school. Teachers may be dismissed or suspended on similar grounds.

PENNSYLVANIA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for incompetence, cruelty, negligence, immorality, or intemperance. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

RHODE ISLAND: Teacher's certificate may be revoked, or teacher may be dismissed, for good and just cause.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for just cause, including incompetence, willful neglect of duty, willful violation of state board rules, unprofessional conduct, drunkenness, cruelty, crime, immorality, conduct involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, evident unfitness, or sale or possession of narcotics. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

SOUTH DAKOTA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for any cause that would have permitted issue of the certificate, violation of teacher's contract, gross immorality, incompetence, flagrant neglect of duty; or conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

TENNESSEE: Teacher's certificate may be revoked if teacher is guilty of immoral conduct. Teachers may be dismissed or suspended on similar grounds, including incompetence, inefficiency, neglect of duty, unprofessional conduct, and insubordination.

TEXAS: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended if teacher's activities are in violation of the law, the teacher is unworthy to instruct the youth of the state, the teacher abandons his or her contract, or the teacher is convicted of a crime. Teachers may be dismissed or suspended on similar grounds.

UTAH: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for immoral or incompetent conduct, or evidence of unfitness for teaching. Teachers may be dismissed for cause.

VERMONT: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for cause. Teachers may be dismissed for just and sufficient cause. Teachers may be suspended for incompetence, conduct unbecoming of a teacher, failure to attend to duties, or failure to carry out reasonable orders and directions of superintendent or board.

VIRGINIA: Teachers may be dismissed for incompetence, immorality, noncompliance with school laws or rules, certain disability, and convictions of certain crimes. Teachers may be suspended for good and just cause when the safety or welfare of children are threatened.

WASHINGTON: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for immorality, violation of a written contract, intemperance, a crime involving child neglect or abuse, or unprofessional conduct. Teachers may be dismissed for sufficient cause.

WEST VIRGINIA: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for drunkenness; untruthfulness; immorality; unfitness due to physical, mental or moral defect; neglect of duty; using fraudulent, unapproved, or insufficient credit; or other cause. Teachers may be dismissed or suspended on similar grounds.

WISCONSIN: Teacher's certificate may be revoked for incompetence, immoral conduct, or conviction of certain felonies. Tenured teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

WYOMING: Teacher's certificate may be revoked or suspended for incompetence, immorality, other reprehensible conduct, or gross neglect of duty. Teachers may be dismissed on similar grounds.

 

*Important Notice and Disclaimer: State laws are constantly changing -- contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified education attorney to help you
navigate education rights and laws.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

Help Me Find a Do-It-Yourself Solution