2010 Tennessee Code
Title 49 - Education
Chapter 5 - Personnel
Part 5 - Teachers' Tenure
49-5-512 - Dismissal or suspension Hearing Tenured teachers in certain counties and directors of schools.

49-5-512. Dismissal or suspension Hearing Tenured teachers in certain counties and directors of schools.

(a)  A tenured teacher who receives notification of charges pursuant to § 49-5-511 may, within thirty (30) days after receipt of the notice, demand a full and complete hearing on the charges before an impartial hearing officer selected by the board, as follows:

     (1)  The teacher shall give written notice to the director of schools of the teacher's request for a hearing;

     (2)  The director of schools shall, within five (5) days after receipt of the request, name an impartial hearing officer who shall be responsible for notifying the parties of the hearing officer's assignment. The hearing officer shall direct the parties or the attorneys for the parties, or both, to appear before the hearing officer for simplification of issues and the scheduling of the hearing, which in no event shall be set later than thirty (30) days following receipt of notice demanding a hearing. In the discretion of the hearing officer, all or part of any prehearing conference may be conducted by telephone if each participant has an opportunity to participate, to be heard and to address proof and evidentiary concerns. The hearing officer is empowered to issue appropriate orders and to regulate the conduct of the proceedings;

     (3)  For the purposes of this part, “impartial” means that the selected hearing officer shall have no history of employment with the board or director of schools, no relationship with any board member and no relationship with the teacher or representatives of the teacher;

     (4)  All parties shall have the right to be represented by counsel, the opportunity to call and subpoena witnesses, the opportunity to examine all witnesses, the right to require that all testimony be given under oath and the right to have evidence deemed relevant by the submitting party included in the record of the hearing, even if objected to by the opposing party;

     (5)  All witnesses shall be entitled to the witness fees and mileage provided by law, which fees and mileage shall be paid by the party issuing a subpoena or calling the witnesses to testify;

     (6)  The impartial hearing officer shall administer oaths to witnesses, who testify under oath;

     (7)  A record of the hearing, either by transcript, recording or as is otherwise agreed by the parties shall be prepared if the decision of the hearing officer is appealed, and all decisions of the hearing officer shall be reduced to writing and included in the record, together with all evidence otherwise submitted;

     (8)  On request of either party to the hearing, witnesses may be barred from the hearing except as they are called to testify. The hearing may be private at the request of the teacher or in the discretion of the hearing officer; and

     (9)  At appropriate stages of the hearing, the hearing officer may give the parties the full opportunity to file briefs, proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law and proposed initial or final orders. The hearing officer shall, within ten (10) days of closing the hearing, decide what disposition to make of the case and shall immediately thereafter give the board and the teacher written findings of fact, conclusions of law and a concise and explicit statement of the outcome of the decision.

(b)  The director of schools or other school officials shall not be held liable, personally or officially, when performing their duties in prosecuting charges against any teacher or teachers under this part.

(c)  (1)  If the affected teacher desires to appeal from a decision rendered in whole or in part in favor of the school system, the teacher shall first exhaust the administrative remedy of appealing the decision to the board of education within ten (10) working days of the hearing officer's delivery of the written findings of fact, conclusions and decision to the affected employee.

     (2)  Upon written notice of appeal, the director of schools shall prepare a copy of the proceedings, transcript, documentary and other evidence presented and transmit the copy to the board within twenty (20) working days of receipt of notice of appeal.

     (3)  The board shall hear the appeal on the record and no new evidence shall be introduced. The affected employee may appear in person or by counsel and argue why the decision should be modified or reversed. The board may sustain the decision, send the record back if additional evidence is necessary, revise the penalty or reverse the decision. Before any findings and decision are sustained or punishment inflicted, a majority of the membership of the board shall concur in sustaining the charges and decision. The board shall render its decision on the appeal within ten (10) working days after the conclusion of the hearing.

     (4)  Any party dissatisfied with the decision rendered by the board shall have the right to appeal to the chancery court in the county where the school system is located within twenty (20) working days after receipt of the dated notice of the decision of the board. It shall be the duty of the board to cause the entire record and other evidence in the case to be transmitted to the court. The review of the court shall be de novo on the record of the hearing held by the hearing officer and reviewed by the board.

     (5)  The director of schools shall also have the right to appeal any adverse ruling by the hearing officer to the board under the same conditions as set out in this subsection (c).

[Acts 1951, ch. 76, § 16 (Williams, § 2345.16); Acts 1972, ch. 588, § 1; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 49-1416; Acts 1992, ch. 535, § 83; 2007, ch. 491, § 1; 2009, ch. 353, § 1; 2009, ch. 360, § 1; 2010 (1st Ex. Sess.), ch. 2, § 13.]  

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