Topic:
TEACHER CERTIFICATION; TEACHERS; STATE OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES; COLLECTIVE BARGAINING;
Location:
TEACHERS - CERTIFICATION AND EVALUATION;
Scope:
Court Cases; Connecticut laws/regulations;

OLR Research Report


March 6, 2000

 

2000-R-0271

GRIEVABILITY OF TEACHER EVALUATIONS

 

By: Judith Lohman, Chief Analyst

You asked (1) whether the procedure for grieving adverse evaluations is a mandatory subject of collective bargaining for state and municipal employees; (2) if the General Assembly made teacher evaluation procedures a mandatory subject, what limits could be imposed to avoid “frivolous” grievances; and (3) for the pros and cons of making evaluation procedures a mandatory subject of collective bargaining for teachers.

MANDATORY BARGAINING OVER EVALUATIONS

State and Municipal Employees

The state employee collective bargaining law (CGS 5-271) and the Municipal Employee Relations Act (CGS 7-468) gives state and municipal employees the right to bargain collectively over wages, hours, and conditions of employment. Neither law makes any explicit exception for evaluation grievance procedures. The State Board of Labor Relations has made no definitive ruling on whether employee evaluation procedures are a mandatory subject of bargaining for either group, according to John McCarthy, legislative representative for the Labor Department.

The State Personnel Act gives state employees who are not included in a collective bargaining unit (mostly managerial and confidential employees) the right to appeal any unsatisfactory performance evaluation to the Employees' Review Board, a seven-member board within the Department of Administrative Services that handles grievances from executive branch employees who are not covered by collective bargaining (CGS 5-202).

Municipal employees have a right to bargain over changes in procedures for promotional examinations relating to (1) the necessary qualifications for taking a promotional exam; (2) the relative weight to be attached to each part of the exam; and (3) the use and determination of monitors for written, oral, and performance exams.

Teachers

Section 10-151b requires local and regional boards of education to develop teacher evaluation programs according to State Board of Education guidelines and other evaluation guidelines established by “mutual agreement” between the board and the union representing its teachers. In 1986, the Connecticut Supreme Court interpreted “mutual agreement” to mean that bargaining over teacher evaluation procedures is permissive and not mandatory (Wethersfield Board of Education v. Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations, et. al., 201 Conn. 685).

AVOIDING 'FRIVOLOUS' GRIEVANCES

If the General Assembly decided to make teacher evaluation procedures a mandatory subject of collective bargaining, it could limit the kinds of grievances that could be filed to preclude “frivolous grievances.” For example, a law could limit grievances to situations where the grievant alleges the evaluation was conducted in bad faith or that an adverse evaluation was the result of discrimination. It could bar grievances on procedural grounds related to such things as timing, notice, or minor documentation errors, or require such grievances to be handled in an abbreviated process. Finally, the law might allow a teacher to grieve an evaluation only when an adverse evaluation leads to a serious job action, such as dismissal or involuntary transfer.

PROS AND CONS

Proponents of making the teacher evaluation process a mandatory subject of collective bargaining could argue that such a step would:

● Allow teachers to suggest ways to make evaluations more effective.

● Make the evaluation process fairer.

● Increase teacher support for the evaluation system.

● Give teachers a way to discuss and resolve problems with the evaluation system.

Opponents of the change might argue that it would:

● Make the teacher evaluation system too adversarial.

● Undermine management authority.

● Introduce excessive paperwork and litigation.

● Slow down the evaluation system and the corrective action and improvement in performance it is designed to produce.

● Protect poorly performing teachers.

JL:ro