Due Process Rights of Teachers

Point of Law Scholarly Contribution

Due Process

Clause 39 of the Magna Carta signed in 1215 by King John at Runnymede states, "No free man shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will we proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgement of his peers and by the law of the land" (Alexander & Alexander, 2005, p. 765). This set the stage for the due process law found in both the 5th and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution. Four major aspects of due process for teachers include substantive due process, procedural due process, the vagueness test, and the irrationality and presumption test.
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5th Amendment

The Fifth Amendment Explained: The Constitution for Dummies Series

14th Amendment

What is the 14th amendment?

Global Connection: Australia

The Australian education system underwent an overhaul in 2012 which produced new laws giving school principals more say in the teacher hiring and firing processes (Benson, 2012). This new policy does not shield principals from claims and lawsuits regarding unjustified dismissals. On the contrary, principals still need to follow the process for documenting and providing opportunities for growth so they can defend the decision in court or in front of the Fair Works Commission (Preiss, 2013). As part of due process, Australian teachers follow and complete the Grievance Framework to ensure their rights are met (Department of Education, 2013).

Influential Cases

  • Board of Regents v. Roth, 1972: Denying a teacher employment may impact one's right to liberty and property as noted in the Due Process Claus
  • Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, 1974: Mandatory leave rules and cutoff dates for pregnant teachers infringe on teachers' due process rights.
  • Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill, 1984: Public employees have the right to due process, including oral and/or written notice of dismissal and of charges against them, explanation of the evidence, and the opportunity for a hearing. This landmark case outlined our current due process practices.
  • Connell v. Higgenbotham, 1971: Disclaimer portions of the oath recommended dismissal from public employment without due process and was therefore unconstitutional.
  • Crump v. Board of Education of Hickory Administrative School Unit, 1990: Even one member of the school board showing bias denies a teacher due process.
  • Perry v. Sindermann, 1972: Even though Odessa Junior College did not have a tenure system, Perry’s first and fourteenth amendment rights were violated by not being afforded a hearing before termination.
  • Weiman v. Updegraff, 1952: The U.S. Supreme Court held that an Oklahoma loyalty oath was unconstitutionally vague and violated the due process rights of a faculty member who refused to take the oath.


Alexander, K. & Alexander M.D. (2005). American public school law. Belmont, CA: Thompson West.

Benson, S. (2012 February 11). School management gets the power to hire and fire duds. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/schools-to-hire-and-fire/story-e6freuy9-1226268171446

Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564 (1972)

Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632 (1974)

Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532 (1985)

Cornell v. Higginbotham, 403 U.S. 207 (1971)

Crump v. Board of Education of Hickory Administrative School Unit, 392 S.E. 2d 579 (1990)

Department of education. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.det.wa.edu.au/policies/detcms/policy-planning-and-accountability/policies-framework/guidelines/grievance-framework.en?cat-id=3457094

Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593 (1972)

Preiss, B. (2013 October 23). Mixed blessing as principals get power to sack teachers. The Age. Retrieved from http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/mixed-blessing-as-principals-get-power-to-sack-teachers-20131022-2vzbd.html#ixzz3my0Vys1t

Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U.S. 183 (1953)

Point of Law Scholarly Contribution to Global Education Policy

Jamie Halliburton

Lamar University

September 27, 2015