Knox Teacher’s Union President Discusses Teacher Tenure

Dick Wagner

This week we’re looking at Education Reform from the Teacher’s Union standpoint. Next week, we’ll be hearing from Knox Community School Board President, Harold Welter, who will discuss the same issues.

Today, Knox Federation of Teachers President, Dick Wagner, looks at tenure. Mr. Wagner does tenure guarantee a teacher a lifetime job?

“That’s the biggest misconception that bothers me as a Union President,” he said. “A tenure in Indiana is reached when a teachers signs their sixth contact. In other words, they’ve gone through five years of teaching already and if the school corporation feels that they are a good teacher, they will grant them tenure status. A tenure status does not guarantee them a lifetime license or a lifetime job in the teaching profession. Any teacher in Indiana, and I mean ANY teacher in Indiana, can be fired for incompetence.”

What type of protection does tenure give to them?

“A tenure teacher has a right to a hearing before the School Board, they have a right to hear the accusations against them, they have a right to bring in witnesses and evidence, and ultimately, it is the School Board that decides if the teacher retains their job. The power is still with the School Board, at least for now, and the teacher has a chance to prove that they’re not a bad teacher.”

Give us an example of the Union’s role when a tenured teacher is being considered for dismissal.

“I have been on teacher’s sides in the past where it’s my job as the Union President to be sure that the steps have been followed, the teacher has certain privileges and rights under due process and tenure. If those steps are followed, that teacher can still be fired and I’ve lost teachers that way and truthfully, some of them should have lost their jobs.”

In the final segment of this three part series, Mr. Wagner will discuss collective bargaining.