JEFFERSON CITY - Teachers in the St. Louis school district could be fired for incompetency under a proposed measure in the Missouri Senate.
Teachers can be fired for incompetency in all of Missouri's other 519 school districts, but the St. Louis school district is under a different state statute. Jeff Spiegel, the director of performance management for St. Louis schools, said the bill would level the playing field for the district.
"It's a huge difference," said Spiegel at Wednesday's Senate Education Committee hearing. "And I ask myself why is the playing field different. Why is it not level?"
The bill filed by Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, would also allow districts to fire teachers for incompetency or inefficiency 30 days after being warned that they might be fired. Currently, the district must wait to fire an "inefficient" teacher one semester after that teacher is warned.
"We shouldn't have to wait a full semester to get rid of a bad teacher," Nasheed said.
The definition of whether a teacher is "incompetent" or "inefficient" is not in statute and is up to the local school boards to decide.
Ray Cummings, a representative of St. Louis Teachers Union Local 420 of the American Federation of Teachers, testified against the bill Wednesday.
"We need to support the teachers that we have and help them get better," Cummings said. "If they can't get better then we need to release them."
Cummings also said the district would have to rely on more substitute teachers if it began firing other teachers.
The Senate Education Committee could vote on the bill as early as next week.