WORTH CO., GA (WALB) - Dozens of teachers and community leaders voiced concerns about a new proposal that would change school system tenure policies.
On Thursday night, the Worth County Board of Education held a public hearing on whether to adopt a new state waiver that would give the district more local control over the termination process under the Fair Dismissal Act.
With the current teacher shortage in the state, teachers in Worth County believe the policy change would keep good teachers from coming to the area.
"It is important that we protect our teachers, but it's not important that we protect the bad ones," said one Worth County school board member who firmly stated why it's time to consider due process under a state waiver.
Back in November, the state waiver was proposed by the Superintendent William Settle to make it easier for school officials to fire teachers under the Fair Dismissal Act.
"The burden in the labor process that puts on the teachers, as well as the district, but also more important what happens in the classroom with the student?" explained Chairman Butch Jenkins.
He said the act is outdated which currently allows teachers to earn tenure after their fourth year and have the opportunity to appeal termination with the State Board of Education.
Superintendent Settle also said in a recent open letter to Worth County stakeholders said "no intention of abolishing due process for teachers."
But others explained the move would strip the very protection they have.
"They want to get rid of their bad teachers as Mr. Settle's stated, 99.9 percent teachers in Worth County are good quality teachers," said Georgia Association of Educators Uniserv Director Willie Allen.
"What always happens when you make a personnel change like this, you send a signal to the good teachers," added Economic Teacher John Tibbetts.
"And we may have lost some of the most highly qualified teachers," said Allen.
But Jenkins disagreed.
"The things that bring teachers to the district is a good relationship between the administrators and your classroom teachers," said Jenkins.
And given that the district is a strategic waiver school system, Jenkins explained they have the right to waive some of the rights and laws of the state.
Chairman Jenkins said the school board will continue discussions with teachers to finalize the state waiver.
Under the proposed policy change, the school system will have the right to choose the length of tenure themselves.
Another major change would be eliminating the appeal process to the state board of education.