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Code of Alabama - Title 16: Education - Section 16-24B-3 - Principals - Probationary and contract principals

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Section 16-24B-3 - Principals - Probationary and contract principals.

(a) Any other provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, persons employed as principals in the public schools in Alabama on or after July 1, 2000, may, at the election of the employing board and upon the recommendation of the chief executive officer, be employed as probationary principals for up to one full contract year; provided, however, that if such person is being employed as a principal for the first time, such probationary period may be for up to two full contract years. After completion of such probationary period, the same employing board, upon the recommendation of the chief executive officer, shall either offer the probationary principal not less than a three-year contract pursuant to this section or terminate the probationary principal for any reason, or without a stated reason, as the case may be. In the case of a probationary principal who is terminated prior to the end of the school year, the probationary principal shall be entitled to the hearing process as described in this section. Any contract principal hired on or after July 1, 2000, to work in the capacity of a contract principal in a public school in the state shall be properly certified and shall be employed pursuant to a written contract for an initial period of not less than three years. The initial contract of not less than three years may only be canceled for cause as described in subdivision (1) of subsection (e). If the contract is cancelled for cause related to failure to perform duties in a satisfactory manner, as evidenced by an unsatisfactory evaluation, the chief executive officer and the employing board shall be subject to the review provisions described in subsection (j).

(b) Subject to the procedures described in subsection (c), in the case of a contract principal after the probationary term of the contract, the contract shall be renewed for a period not less than three years, and shall contain a provision for cancellation during the term of the contract only for just cause, described in subdivision (1) of subsection (e).

(c) Notwithstanding whether the contract is the initial contract or otherwise, should the chief executive officer make a recommendation to the employing board followed by a majority vote of the board not to offer a new, renewed, or extended contract to the contract principal, the vote of the employing board shall be made at least 90 days before the end of the existing contract. The recommendation shall contain written notice of the decision of the chief executive officer and the reasons for the decision to nonrenew the contract. Notice shall be provided to the contract principal either by personal service or by certified mail, return receipt requested, mailed to the last known address of the contract principal. The decision of the chief executive officer and the employing board may be based on any reason except personal or political reasons.

(d) Nothing in this section or chapter shall be construed to confer continuing service status or nonprobationary status on any contract or probationary principal.

(e)(1) An employing board may cancel the contract of a contract principal for cause at any time for any of the following reasons:

a. Immorality.

b. Insubordination.

c. Neglect of duty.

d. Conviction of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude.

e. Failure to fulfill the duties and responsibilities imposed upon principals by this code.

f. Willful failure to comply with board policy.

g. A justifiable decrease in the number of positions due to decreased enrollment or decreased funding.

h. Failure to maintain his or her certificate in a current status.

i. Other good and just cause.

j. Incompetency.

k. Failure to perform duties in a satisfactory manner.

(2) Within five days of the action of the employing board of canceling or nonrenewing the contract of the contract principal, the employing board shall provide written notice pursuant to subsection (c) to the contract principal with a statement of the reasons upon which such action was taken.

a. Within 10 days of the date of receipt of notice provided to a contract principal informing him or her of an action by the employing board to nonrenew the principal's contract at the end of its current term, the contract principal, by filing written notice with the chief executive officer, may request a nonjury, expedited evidentiary hearing to demonstrate that the chief executive officer's or supervisor's recommendation to nonrenew the contract was impermissibly based upon a personal or political reason, or the recommendation was approved based upon personal or political reasons of the chief executive officer, supervisor, or the employing board, which shall be the sole issues at any such hearing. The contract principal shall bear the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence. The hearing shall be before the circuit court in the judicial circuit of the county in which the employing board sits. The expedited evidentiary hearing shall be binding on all parties. Promptly after delivering a written request for such a hearing, the contract principal or his or her designee shall file with the appropriate circuit court a request for an expedited hearing and shall provide a copy of the request to the chief executive officer.

b. In the case of a contract principal who is recommended for cancellation for cause pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection, within 10 days of the date of receipt by the contract principal of the notice informing him or her of an action by the employing board to cancel the principal's contract for cause as provided in subdivision (1) of this subsection, the principal may, by filing written notice with the chief executive officer, request a nonjury, expedited evidentiary hearing before the circuit court in the county in which the employing board sits. The chief executive officer shall provide notice to the circuit court promptly after receiving such notice, that the employing board requests the non-jury, expedited evidentiary hearing. At the hearing the employing board shall bear the burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the cancellation is solely for cause pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection.

(3) All contract principals shall be entitled to an expedited evidentiary hearing process, which shall occur within 45 days of the chief executive officer's or the contract principal's request, as the case may be, for an expedited hearing pursuant to subdivision (3) of this subsection. If the circuit court determines that it is not able to complete the expedited evidentiary hearing within the 45-day period, the court shall refer the parties to a mediator to conduct the expedited evidentiary hearing within 45 days of the chief executive officer's or the contract principal's request for the expedited hearing. The written decision of the mediator shall be binding on the parties.

(4) The contract principal may request reinstatement at the expedited evidentiary hearing. If such an action is initiated by the contract principal, as allowed herein, the pay and benefits of the contract principal shall be discontinued only upon a final order denying reinstatement by the circuit court or the mediator.

(f)(1) Failure to file a timely request for an expedited evidentiary hearing, unless excused by the court or the mediator, shall result in a waiver of the right to appeal the decision of the employing board. No further action is necessary by the employing board.

(2) At the end of the term of the probationary contract, or any subsequent contract, absent a written recommendation by the chief executive officer for cancellation or nonrenewal and an acceptance of that recommendation by a majority vote of the employing board, the employing board shall enter into a new contract with the contract principal for a period of not less than three years.

(g) The decision of the circuit court or mediator shall be final and exclusively appealable to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, as a nonevidentiary appeal in which review is limited to the record from the expedited evidentiary hearing as provided for in this chapter.

(h)(1) Any principal hired before July 1, 2000, who has not obtained continuing service status with an employing board under prior law and any principal who attained continuing service status under prior law before July 1, 2000, may voluntarily and irrevocably relinquish his or her continuing service status as a principal and elect to be employed by contract.

(2) The relinquishment of continuing service status and election to serve under contract shall be made in writing to the employing board at least 30 days before the start of the immediately succeeding scholastic year to be effective in that scholastic year, and thereafter.

(i)(1) The chief executive officer, or his or her designee, shall at least annually evaluate the performance of each contract principal. The evaluation shall be performed in a manner prescribed by the State Board of Education.

(2) The employing board, upon the written recommendation of the chief executive officer, may at any time enter into a new contract of not less than three years with the contract principal. In the event of an unsatisfactory but remediable performance on the evaluation as prescribed by the State Board of Education, a conference shall be held with the contract principal and a specific plan of professional development shall be presented by the chief executive officer, which specifies the area or areas of unsatisfactory performance and recommends a plan to correct the unsatisfactory performance. The contract principal shall complete the specific plan of professional development prior to the next evaluation. In the event of an evaluation indicating unsatisfactory performance as prescribed by the State Board of Education, the chief executive officer shall either recommend to the local board of education cancellation of the contract for cause as outlined in subsection (e)(1) of this section or a conference shall be held with the contract principal and a specific plan of professional development shall be presented by the chief executive officer, which specifies the area of unsatisfactory performance and recommends a plan to correct the unsatisfactory performance. The contract principal shall complete the specific plan of professional development prior to the next evaluation.

(j)(1) Within 15 days after an unsatisfactory evaluation as prescribed by the State Board of Education and upon receipt of a recommendation by the chief executive officer for cancellation of the contract for cause as outlined in subsection (e)(1), a contract principal may request, in writing to the chief executive officer, a review of the evaluation.

(2) The review of the evaluation shall be conducted by an independent third party evaluator who shall determine whether sufficient cause exists for the unsatisfactory finding and be chosen in the following manner:

a. Within five days of the request for a review of the evaluation, the chief executive officer or designee shall request a list of five persons who are certified to evaluate contract principals from the State Department of Education.

b. From the list described in paragraph a., the chief executive officer and the contract principal shall each strike two names.

c. The State Superintendent of Education shall designate an evaluator from the name or names remaining.

(3) The review of the evaluation shall be completed within 30 days after the request for a review of the evaluation is received by the chief executive officer.

(4)a. If the result of the review of the evaluation overturns the unsatisfactory evaluation, then the contract of the contract principal shall be continued for the remainder of the term of the contract subject to subsection (e)(1).

b. If the result of the review of the evaluation upholds the unsatisfactory evaluation, the contract principal shall be informed of the reasons for the upholding of the unsatisfactory evaluation and the contract of the contract principal shall be cancelled.

(k) Except as provided in subsection (h), the contract of a principal holding the position on July 1, 2000, shall not be canceled, nonrenewed, reduced, or changed in compensation or continuing service status, or time toward continuing service status, due to the enactment of this chapter.

(l)(1) Any decision not to continue the employment of a probationary principal or contract principal shall be made by a majority vote of the employing board upon the written recommendation of the chief executive officer.

(2) The decision not to continue the employment of a contract principal shall cancel the employment relationship between the employing board and the contract principal effective at the end of the current contract period.

(3) Any contract principal who had attained continuing service status in a position other than principal with the employing board before becoming a contract principal shall retain that previously earned status and be returned to a similar status position within a reasonable time of the cancellation or nonrenewal of their contract as a principal with the employing board, provided that the cause for cancellation is not for conviction of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude.

(m) If a contract principal is not evaluated as required by this section, his or her contract shall be extended one additional contract year for each contract year not evaluated up to three years.

(n) The chief executive officer shall make a timely written recommendation to the employing board regarding the continued employment of a probationary principal at the end of his or her probationary period and the continued employment of a contract principal at the end of his or her contract. Failure of the chief executive officer to make such a recommendation shall not in any way prejudice the probationary principal or contract principal.

(Act 2000-733, p. 1588, §3; Act 2007-467, 984, §1.)
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Last modified: March 18, 2014