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Who makes decisions about school staff?

Ever wondered who's in charge of whom in a school district? This guide explains who makes various staffing decisions.

GreatSchools Blog

By GreatSchools Staff

The school's role

School principals — and sometimes vice principals — typically evaluate the teaching staff and other employees at a school. At many schools, the principal decides what grade level and/or subject a particular teacher will teach.

But only in rare cases can they choose which teachers are assigned to the school. Even rarer is the situation where a school principal can remove a teacher from the school.

The school district's role

All school staff members are employees of the school district. This means the district is responsible for hiring, setting salaries, making staff assignments and firing. In all of these areas, however, the district must act in accordance with the provisions of any negotiated collective bargaining agreement between employee unions and the district. The one exception is administrators, who commonly have no union representation and work at the discretion of the governing board.

The role of the education code and other laws

In many states, the education code (sometimes abbreviated "ed code") has some provisions related to employment. Many of the employment rights and protections offered to teachers and other staff are contained in other state laws. Both the government and labor codes have relevance for schools.

Employee unions

In the course of negotiations with local school district officials, employee unions can bring to the table a variety of issues related to their terms and conditions of employment. The process a school district uses for employee evaluations, salary levels and increases, type of benefits, and process for filling vacant positions are generally all in the employee contract. As "matters for negotiation," none of these important issues are routinely open to public debate. However, the public does have the opportunity to give the school board its opinion on these matters before negotiations commence.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

11/14/2011:
"According to what I've been told by my granddaughter, her teacher doesn't care for her either, but I'm not going to sit by and watch her make my granddaughter's life miserable at school. I'll see what the principal can do and go from there. If need be the superintendent is next. "
10/26/2011:
"when the teacher dont like your child the principal dont do anithing who shuld we see im desesperate help me please "
07/24/2006:
"What are the rare occassions when a pricipal has the power to dismiss a teacher and the teacher has no recourse. It seems to me that no matter how grave a reason the teacher is innocent until proven guilty. Don't you think?"
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