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Spring 2014 Elementary School Law for Future Teachers

An overview of Arkansas law for UCA K-12 education students

Jennifer Wells

on 4 May 2015

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Transcript of Spring 2014 Elementary School Law for Future Teachers

School Law
For Future Teachers
Teacher Licensure and Teacher Fair Dismissal Act
Individual Issues and Rights
Sexual Harassment and Bullying
Student Discipline
ights &
Teacher Licensure
FERPA is a federal law that sets out basic privacy requirements for
personally identifiable information
contained in education records created or maintained by schools.

Who has FERPA rights?
Student GPAs and transcripts
Final course grades
Admissions materials
Financial aid records
Disciplinary records
Attendance records
Academic counseling records
Student health records
And More!
How FERPA Works
Personally identifiable information
within education records cannot be disclosed unless:
Prior written consent,
Directory information, or
An exception to the general rule
Eligible Students--students 18 or older
Parents of Students
is anyone who is currently attending a school or who has attended a school AND about whom the school maintains education records
Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be misleading or inaccurate.
Schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student to release any information from a student's education record.
Education records
are records directly related to a student and maintained by an educational entity or by anyone acting for that group.
Education records
Arkansas Public School Resource Center
1401 W. Capitol Ave., Suite 315
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201
Jennifer Dedman
What are public records?
Email and Texts
What do you do if you receive a FOIA request?
Notice of Access to Student by Law Enforcement
FOIA applies to public meetings and public records
FOIA follows FERPA
If all or part of the records are covered under FERPA, then they also cannot be disclosed under FOIA.
Any records
in any form
which are required by law to be kept as a record of the performance (or lack thereof) of official functions of a public official or employee, public agency, or any other agency receiving public funding.

All records maintained in public offices or by public employees within the scope of their job are assumed to be public records.
Recorded sounds
Electronic information
Can someone access my personal email, work email, school phone text messages, or personal phone text messages through FOIA?
Work Email
Personal Email
Work Texts
Personal Texts
Avoid using your personal phone or email for work business
Talk to an administrator
If you are tasked with retrieving records and sending them to an administrator, do so
The law says FOIA requests must be answered
Failure to do so can result in some pretty steep penalties. Your school could be sued.
Take Action
The principal (or designated person), must make a reasonable, good faith effort to notify a student's parent/guardian, if the student is under eighteen, if the school:
Reports to any law enforcement agency about student misconduct;
Grants law enforcement (other than a school resource officer) access to a student;
Knows that a student has been taken into custody by law enforcement during the school day or while under school supervision.
When the parent is suspected of child maltreatment and the child is being interviewed by law enforcement about those allegations, the parent must not be notified.
How to Lose Your License
List of Offenses in A.C.A. § 6-17-410
The Breakdown
Teacher Personnel File
Teacher Contract
Contract Rescission
Contract Renewal
Notice Letters
Board Action
More Suspension
Board Hearing
Grounds for revocation of teaching license:
Plea of guilty or no contest to being found guilty of any crime in the list discussed in a moment.
Includes any expunged or pardoned conviction
Violation of secure testing regulations and confidentiality.
A true report in the Child Maltreatment Central Registry.
Capital murder.
Murder in the first degree.
Murder in the second degree.
Battery in the first degree.
Battery in the second degree.
Aggravated assault.
Terroristic threatening in the first degree.
Sexual assault in the first degree, second degree, third degree, and fourth degree.
Distribution to minors
Any felony in violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act
Permitting abuse of a child (You’re a mandated reporter).
Negligent homicide.
Engaging children in sexually explicit conduct for use in visual or print media, transportation of minors for prohibited sexual conduct, employing or consenting to the use of a child in a sexual performance, or producing, directing, or promoting a sexual performance by a child.
Sexual indecency with a child
Endangering the welfare of a minor in the first degree
Pandering or possessing visual or print medium depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a child
False imprisonment in the first degree
Permanent detention or restraint.
Assault in the first degree.
Public sexual indecency.
Indecent exposure.
Endangering the welfare of a minor in the second degree.
Criminal attempt, criminal solicitation, or criminal conspiracy to commit any of the offenses listed in this subsection.
Computer child pornography.
Computer exploitation of a child in the first degree.
Felony theft.
Breaking or entering.
Any felony not listed and involving physical or sexual injury, mistreatment, or abuse against another.
Killing people
Crimes of a sexual nature
Endangering or allowing the endangerment of children
Stealing things
Illegal Physical Restraints
Assorted other felonies
Rule of Thumb:
Avoid breaking the law
Criminal conviction does not have to be related to your role as teacher to serve as basis for revocation of your license.
A district must maintain a personnel file for each teacher
Must be available to the teacher for inspection and copying at the teacher's expense during normal office hours.
Teachers may submit a written response to any of the material, which must be included in the file.
Teacher contracts are with the Board.

The administration of a school doesn't terminate teachers, but instead recommends a contract to the Board for termination.

The recommendation is usually accepted. Hearings are before the Board for this reason.
Teacher contracts must be renewed in writing on the same terms and for the same salary, for the next school year
By May 1, the teacher is notified that the superintendent is recommending that the contract not be renewed;
During the period of the contract or within ten (10) calendar days after the end of the school year, the teacher sends his/ her resignation as a teacher; or
The contract is replaced by another contract.
Teachers have 30 days to read, sign, and return a new contract after they receive it.
A teacher has the right to
rescind any signed contract up to 10 days after the end of the school year.
You may end the contract with or without the district’s permission during this time period, but after that ten day period, the school district must agree to let you out of your contract.

Reasons for termination:
when there is a reduction in force (RIF) created by district-wide reduction in certified staff,
for incompetent performance,
for conduct which materially interferes with the continued performance of the teacher's duties,
for repeated or material neglect of duty, or
for other just and reasonable cause.
Teachers must be notified of job actions like termination or nonrenewal.
The notice must include a statement of the grounds for the recommendation in separately numbered paragraphs so the teacher can prepare a defense.
The notice must be delivered in person to the teacher or sent by registered or certified mail to the teacher at the teacher's residence address as reflected in the teacher's personnel file.
Looks Like This:
Reasons for termination
Separately numbered
Right to request a hearing and
deadline to do so in writing.
Delivered by Certified Mail
or Hand Delivered
Whenever there is reason to believe that a teacher should be fired, and immediate suspension of the teacher is necessary, the superintendent may suspend the teacher without notice or a hearing.
However, the superintendent MUST notify the teacher in writing within two (2) school days of the suspension.
If sufficient grounds for termination are found, the board may terminate the teacher or continue the suspension for a specific, stated time period.
The teacher’s salary is suspended during this time and remains suspended for as long as the suspension of the teacher lasts.
If the teacher is then found to be innocent of the charge, the teacher is reinstated and paid for the suspension leave time.
You have a right to:
hearing unless you or the board request that it be
of your choosing;

of the hearing
at board expense and a transcript
at no cost,
if you request in writing at least 24 hours prior.
Notice of charges:
The board
cannot consider at the hearing any new reasons
which were not specified in the notices provided.
The only remedy for any non-probationary teacher who opposes the decision made by the board of directors is an appeal to the circuit court of the county in which the school district is located, within seventy-five (75) days of the date of written notice of the action of the board of directors.
It means you have to file suit in court.
After any hearing the board will make specific written conclusions about each reason for the recommended termination or nonrenewal.
Any nonrenewal, termination, suspension, or other disciplinary action is
unless the district substantially complies with all provisions of this section of the law and the applicable personnel policies.
This means if the district doesn’t follow the law and its policies at least substantially, the teacher will be reinstated .

Personnel Rights and Issues
Personnel Policies
What if the non-custodial parent wants a copy of the child's school records?
Custody Tips
Duty Free Lunch
Teacher Freedom of Religion
Student Freedom of Religion
Disciplinary Tips
Leave of Absence
What if the non-custodial parent comes to pick up the child?
Personnel policies are often incorporated into the teacher contract. You are entitled to rely on them as though they are written in your contract.
All teacher discipline must be in accordance with state law and the district’s policies
If you are in a meeting that is disciplinary in nature or becomes disciplinary in tone, if you are a
traditional public school employee
, you have a right to a witness of your choosing.
Even if you aren’t a traditional public school employee, you may request a witness.
If you are placed on an improvement plan as a result of a disciplinary meeting, do not fight the improvement plan. Focus on following it perfectly.
It never hurts to ask!
Each district must provide at least a 30-minute uninterrupted duty-free lunch each day for each certified person.

Otherwise, the certified person must be compensated at his or her hourly rate of pay.
Any student shall have the right to pray at any time, provided that it does not interfere with instruction.
No school personnel shall lead prayer.
A law enacted last year requires a
period of silence
at the beginning of each school day (1 minute) in which students may reflect, pray, or engage in silent activity.
The teacher or school employee is required to ensure that all students remain silent and do not interfere with other students during that period.
Any teacher may wear the clothing of any established and recognized religion in the public schools and institutions of this state.

The language “established and recognized religion” would likely be unconstitutional today.

Arkansas Code Annotated § 5-2-605 allows the teacher to use
physical force upon the minor when and to the extent reasonably necessary to maintain discipline or to promote the welfare of the minor.
The use of physical force against another, resulting in harmful or offensive contact.
What is reasonable & appropriate?
It depends on the circumstances. The more serious the threat, the more force can be justified. You wouldn't tackle a student for chewing gum, but you may be justified in physically restraining a student who is attacking another student.
Rule of Thumb:
Avoid physical contact with students unless necessary.
When a teacher is absent from work in a public school as a result of personal injury caused by assault or criminal act committed against the teacher in the course of employment, the teacher must be granted a leave of absence from school with
full pay
up to one (1) year
from the date of the injury.

Teachers who suffer personal injury while intervening in student fights, restraining a student or protecting a student from harm must be considered to be injured as a result of an assault or a criminal act.
Ask for an Order. Orders for paternity, custody, child support, visitation, or divorce will contain information about whether the parent who doesn't have custody of the child can pick up the child from school. It usually contains a visitation schedule.

Usually, allowing the non-custodial parent visitation isn't a problem. They have the same rights as the custodial parent with parent lunches, parent-teacher meetings, FERPA, and any other parent rights
there is an order stating otherwise.
It is important to remember that just because one parent does not want the other parent to visit or take the child, does not mean that the other parent does not have the right to visit or take the child.
Communication is key. Talk to both parents early in the school year. Remain neutral. You are an educator, not a referee.
Unless and until you see an order showing otherwise, one parent's "rights" concerning the child are the same as the other parent's.
Orders look like this:
Says custody, termination, visitation, divorce, or guardianship
Judge has
File stamp or court seal mark
Name of child
Instructions, rules, and orders
Both custodial and non-custodial parents are allowed to establish a schedule of prearranged days and times with the principal for one parent to take the child to school and the other to pick the child up.

But Arkansas law prohibits both parents (custodial and non-custodial) from transferring the child from one parent to another on school
grounds while school is in session.
Let the parent have the records! FERPA gives either parent or legal guardian equal rights to review an education record unless there is evidence of a court order or law revoking these rights.

FERPA does not distinguish between custodial and a non-custodial parent.
Child Transfers
Sexual Harassment
What is Sexual Harassment?
Types of Sexual Harassment
What is Bullying?
Dear Colleague
Electronic Act
The Rules
When do I search a student?
Student Searches
Student Discipline
It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature. It can include offensive remarks about gender. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Submission to such conduct (1) is made a term or condition of employment or (2) forms a basis for employment decisions affecting that individual.

Conduct has purpose or effect of (1) unreasonably interfering with work performance or (2) creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
Sexual Misconduct:
Quid Pro Quo:
Hostile Environment:
Means "This for That"
Bullying means
Threat of Violence, or
Actual Violence
means an actual or perceived personal characteristic.
Your Response
An electronic act means any communication or image transmitted by an electronic device (telephone, wireless phone or other wireless communications device, computer, or pager).

The “electronic act” can occur or originate anywhere (i.e., student’s home computer).
“Bullying fosters a climate of fear and disrespect that can seriously impair the physical and psychological health of its victims and create conditions that negatively affect learning, thereby undermining the ability of students to achieve their full potential.”
Excerpt from USDOE “Dear Colleague” letter dated October 26, 2010:
Why is it important?
How do you handle it?
Is it child maltreatment?
Mandated reporter requirements?
Sexual harassment issues?
Written policies required
= up to 10 days
is anything longer
Student has right to appeal to School Board
Different standards apply to Special Education students
Students are protected by 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches, BUT there are MANY exceptions:
Search of person must be based on

reasonable suspicion
(you must be able to articulate what caused your suspicion to another person clearly), with adult witness present, and by personnel of the same sex as the student, and not be excessively intrusive.
After you have involved your administrator. You should never make this decision on your own.

A student search should be initiated only if you have reasonable grounds to believe that the search will turn up evidence that the student has violated or is violating either the law or the rules of the school.
The search should be restricted to those areas where the suggested contraband may be found.

The younger the student, the more conservative you should be about the search.

You should always involve an administrator in the decision making process first.
You probably wouldn't find a shotgun inside a student's wallet, for example
To Clarify:
The search must be reasonable also in light of what you're looking for. It would be inappropriate to conduct a very invasive physical search for a stick of gum.
The parent with primary custody is called the custodial parent. It's the parent the child lives with most of the time.

termination order
ends a person's right to be a parent.
A Few Tips
Gender is irrelevant. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
LGBT students are protected from harassment.
There is currently no job protection for LGBT employees in Arkansas, but the recent rulings of the Supreme Court suggest there may be soon.
Who Can Bully?
School Employee
Bullying happens everywhere, but it is the school's job to intervene when it occurs:
At School
Online-"reaches into the school"
Bullying is about a victim's
or about a person with whom the victim is associated (like a parent or a group of friends).
Outcomes of Bullying
Bullying is action or inaction that causes or creates actual or reasonably foreseeable:
to victim or his/her property;
with a student’s education or with a public school employee’s role in education;
Hostile educational environment
for students or employees due to the severity, persistence, or pervasiveness of the act; or
of the orderly operation of the school or educational environment.
National Origin
Socioeconomic Status
Academic Success
Gender Identity
Physical Appearance
Health Condition
Sexual Orientation
Full transcript