Teacher Employment and Dismissal

Teachers’ employment is really a distinct category of employment law. Depending on the teacher’s length of service and contract status, the law may provide certain protections that most employees do not have.

In South Carolina we have the Teacher Employment and Dismissal Act. This law states that

Any teacher may be dismissed at any time who shall fail, or who may be incompetent, to give instruction in accordance with the directions of the superintendent, or who shall otherwise manifest an evident unfitness for teaching; provided, however, that notice and an opportunity shall be afforded for a hearing prior to any dismissal. Evident unfitness for teaching is manifested by conduct such as, but not limited to, the following: persistent neglect of duty, willful violation of rules and regulations of district board of trustees, drunkenness, conviction of a violation of the law of this State or the United States, gross immorality, dishonesty, illegal use, sale or possession of drugs or narcotics.

S.C. Code 1976 § 59-25-430


Thus, before a teacher (again depending on length of service and contract status) may be terminated, the district must have substantial evidence of that teacher’s unfitness for teaching. This law was designed to prevent abuse of a school board’s power of termination.

Typically, prior to terminating a teacher, the school must give the teacher a chance to improve.

Whenever a superior, principal, where applicable, or supervisor charged with the supervision of a teacher finds it necessary to admonish a teacher for a reason that he believes may lead to, or be cited as a reason for, dismissal or cause the teacher not to be reemployed he shall: (1) bring the matter in writing to the attention of the teacher involved and make a reasonable effort to assist the teacher to correct whatever appears to be the cause of potential dismissal or failure to be reemployed . . . .

S.C. Code 1976 § 59-25-440


Thus, a school district must follow the law and procedure in dismissing a teacher. However, each situation is different. Thus, whether a teacher has been treated in accordance with the laws are fact-specific.

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