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Common Misperceptions About Teacher Tenure in Missouri

Teachers in the state of Missouri achieve tenure after five years teaching full-time in the same school system. Teacher tenure does not prevent teachers from leaving their jobs, though, and tenure does not protect inadequate teachers from being fired. 

Teachers May Leave Tenured Positions

Tenured teachers are empowered to cancel their indefinite contracts, just as the school district may still terminate a tenured teacher. 

Teachers who are tenured may terminate their contracts for the coming school years on or before June 1st without school board permission. Even if a teacher signs a contract in the spring, the teacher can leave the contract by providing written notice to the school district on or before June 1st of that same year. 

Schools May Fire Tenured Teachers

Perhaps one of the biggest misperceptions about teacher tenure in Missouri is that tenured teachers are protected from involuntary dismissal. 

In fact, tenured teachers’ employment can be terminated involuntarily under several circumstances:

·         If the teacher has a physical or mental condition that renders him or her unfit to instruct or associate with children.
·         For immoral conduct.
·         For incompetence, inefficiency or insubordination in the line of duty.
·         For willful or persistent violation of Missouri’s school laws or the local school district’s published policies or regulations.
·         For excessive or unreasonable absences.
·         For conviction of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude.

Is the School Required to Give the Teacher a 30-Day Improvement Period?

In Missouri, unless a teacher is terminated on the basis of “incompetence, inefficiency or insubordination,” the teacher is not entitled to an improvement period. The school board is allowed to proceed immediately with the termination process. In other words, tenure does not protect teachers from being fired.  

Written Notice of Termination

School districts who terminate tenured teachers are required to serve the tenured teacher with “written charges specifying the grounds it believes exist for termination and notice of the right to a hearing”. 

If the teacher does not request a hearing within 10 days of being served with written notice of dismissal, the school board may terminate the contract by a majority vote. 

In addition, the school board may suspend teachers (with pay) during the termination process. 

Teacher tenure in Missouri does not protect unfit teachers, nor does it protect teachers who have missed an excessive number of classes. Missouri’s teacher tenure does not project teachers who have broken Missouri’s school laws, state laws, district policies, or Federal laws. 

Despite common misperceptions, tenured teachers in Missouri can still be fired.

To learn more about teacher tenure and other educational policy issues in the state of Missouri, sign up for MOParent email update at the top of this page.

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