5 Fundamentals For Non-Renewing A Tenured Teacher In South Dakota

Fundamental #1 - What is a “continuing contract law” or "tenured" teacher?

A “continuing contract law” or “tenured” teacher is a teacher who is in or beyond the fourth consecutive term of employment as a teacher with the school district.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has stated that "[t]he purpose of the tenure laws is to provide teachers with employment security and to prevent dismissals without cause. However, tenure does not prohibit a school board from non-renewing a teacher’s contract. Tenure simply entitles a teacher to the procedural and substantive due process rights before a teacher’s contract is terminated or not renewed.”

Fundamental #2 - Under what circumstances may a tenured teacher be non-renewed?

A school district may non-renew a tenured teacher for “just cause.”

Fundamental #3 - What is “just cause” for non-renewal?

“Just cause” for non-renewal includes breach of contract, poor performance, incompetency, gross immorality, unprofessional conduct, insubordination, neglect of duty, or the violation of any policy or regulation of the school district.

Fundamental #4 - Does a tenured teacher have certain procedural rights before he or she can be non-renewed?

Yes. A tenured teacher can only be non-renewed if the school district follows the proper procedures.

Fundamental #5 - By what date does a tenured teacher have to be given notice of a non-renewal recommendation?

A tenured teacher must be given written notice of a non-renewal recommendation on or before April fifteenth.

For more information about the non-renewal of a tenured teacher, read Chapter 24 of The South Dakota School Law Deskbook.

Scott Swier
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