Students First Act
Student’s First Act (May 26, 2011)
- Probationary Period
- Non-Probationary Period
- Termination of Employment
- Termination – Effect on Employee’s Pay
- Process to Contest Termination
- Reduction to Employee Compensation or Benefits
- Reductions in Force
- Administrative Leave
- Administrative Appeal
- Leave of Absence
- Chief Executive Officer
The chief administrative and executive officer of the entity, institution, agency, or political subdivision of the state that is subject to this act and includes, without limitation, superintendents of city or county boards of education and presidents of two-year educational institutions operated under authority and control of the Department of Postsecondary Education. The term includes persons serving in such a capacity on an acting or interim basis under lawful appointment or by operation of law.
- Senior Personnel Officer
Responsible for the issuance of termination letters and bears the burden of proof for the College in the hearing process.
- Classified Employee
All adult bus drivers, all full-time lunchroom or cafeteria workers, janitors, custodians, maintenance personnel, secretaries and clerical assistants, instructional aides or assistants, whether or not certificated, non-certificated supervisors, and, except as hereinafter provided, all other persons who are not teachers as defined herein who are full-time employees of a city or county board of education, two-year educational institutions operated under the authority and control of the Department of Postsecondary Education, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, including production workers at the Alabama Industries for the Blind, and educational and correctional institutions under the control of the Department of Youth Services. The term does not include the employer’s chief executive officer, executive vice president, or chief school financial officer. Full-time employees include adult bus drivers and other employees whose duties require 20 or more hours in each normal working week of the school term, excluding holidays that are recognized by the employer. Employees who are eligible for coverage under the state Merit System are not covered by this act. A probationary classified employee who is a classified employee has not attained non-probationary status.
All employees of entities that are covered by this act who are required by law, regulation, or employer policy to maintain a professional educator’s certificate issued by the State Department of Education and who are employed by a city or county board of education, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, or educational and correctional institutions under the control of the Department of Youth Services. The term also includes instructors employed by two-year educational institutions operated on the authority and control of the Department of Postsecondary Education and principals who had attained tenure under prior law, but who have not elected to become contract principals under subsection (h) of Section 16-24B-3, Code of Alabama 1975.
The term does not include an employer’s chief executive officer, chief school financial officer, or a principal who is employed as or who has elected to become a contract principal under subsection (h) of Section 16-24B-3, Code of Alabama 1975, whether or not certification is required for those positions by law or policy, and does not include the president or executive vice president of a two-year educational institution operated under the authority and control of the Department of Postsecondary Education. A probationary teacher is a teacher who has not attained tenure.
Unless otherwise specified, and as appropriate to the context, the term includes either a teacher or a classified employee, or both, whose employment is subject to this act.
The entity, institution, agency, or political subdivision of the state by which the employee who is subject to this act is employed. Employers subject to this act include all city and county boards of education, all educational and correctional institutions under the control of the Department of Youth Services, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, and two-year educational institutions operated under the authority and control of the Department of Postsecondary education. Each two-year institution operated under the authority and control of the Department of Postsecondary Education is a separate employer for purposes of this act.
- Governing Board
The body of elected or appointed official that is granted authority by law, regulation, or policy to make employment decisions on behalf of the employer. If final decision-making authority with respect to employment decisions is conferred by law, regulation, or duly adopted policy on an official administrator, or organization unit other than a separate governing board, the decision or action of such official, administrator, or organizational unit, including the president of a two-year educational institution operated under the authority and control for the Department of Postsecondary Education, is that of the governing board for purposes of this act, and no additional approval of such decision or action shall be required. Under such circumstances, the official administrator, president, or organizational unit shall assume and exercise the duties of the governing board established by this act. For purposes of this act, the State Board of Education shall not be deemed to be or authorized to function as the employer or the governing board of any employer covered by this act.
- School Year
The period beginning with the first day of the annual school term and ending with the last day of the annual school term on which classroom instructors are required to report for duty, as established by the governing board. For a two-year educational institution, the school year shall be deemed to begin on the first day of the fall academic semester and continuing through the final day of the spring academic semester, but shall not include the summer academic semester.
- Classified employees
shall be deemed employed on a probationary status for a period of 36 consecutive months from the date of their initial employment. The completion of 36 consecutive months of employment at the same college is sufficient for an employee to achieve non-probationary status. At any time during a classified employee’s probationary period, the college may remove an employee by furnishing the employee written notification at least fifteen (15) calendar days prior to the effective date of termination. Service as a classified employee cannot be converted to or credited towards tenure as an instructor.
shall be deemed employed on a probationary status for a period of six consecutive semesters (excluding summer terms) from the date of their employment. Instructors achieve tenure status upon the completion of six consecutive semesters (excluding summer terms) at the same college unless the President issues notice of termination to the instructor on or before 15 days prior to the end of the sixth consecutive semester of employment. Service as an instructor cannot be converted to or credited towards non-probationary status as a classified employee or vice-versa.
- During the probationary period, the employee will be evaluated.
All employees who had attained tenured or non-probationary status under the Fair Dismissal Act shall be deemed tenured or non-probationary employees under the Student’s First Act. Employees who had not attained tenure or non-probationary status upon the effective date of the Student’s First Act (May 26, 2011) will be credited with all time in service that would have been credited toward the attainment of tenure or non-probationary status under the Fair Dismissal Act.
Tenure/Non-Probationary status may not be attained as a college President, Executive Vice President, or Chief Financial Officer. Tenure/Non-Probationary status cannot be attained by virtue of employment in temporary, part-time, substitute, summer school, occasional, seasonal, supplemental, irregular, or like forms of employment, or in positions that are created to serve experimental, pilot, temporary, or like special programs, projects, or purposes, the funding and duration of which are finite.
Non-Probationary classified employees and tenured instructors shall not be terminated except for failure to perform their duties in a satisfactory manner, incompetency, neglect of duty, insubordination, immorality, justifiable decrease in jobs in the institution, or other good and just causes. Termination of employment shall not be made for political or personal reasons on the part of the President of the institution.
Termination of Employment
An employee on non-probationary status may be terminated only in the following manner:
- The Senior Personnel Officer shall give written notice of the intent to terminate which must include the following.
A statement indicating the reasons for the proposed termination.
The time and place for the hearing which must be conducted no less than thirty (30) calendar days and no more than sixty calendar (60) days after receipt of notice by the employee.
The notice must inform the employee that in order to request a hearing with the President, the employee must file a written request for the hearing within 15 days after issuance of the notice.
- Notice to the employee may be delivered by U.S. Mail, certified delivery, by private carrier for next business-day delivery or by physical hand delivery to the employee or to his or her last known address.
- During the pre-termination conference, which shall be public or private at the discretion of the employee, the employee, or the employee’s representative, shall be afforded the opportunity to speak to the President on matters relevant to the termination. The employee has the right to counsel and to have a court reporter record his or her statement, both at the expense of the employee.
- If the employee fails to timely request a hearing, the President will act on the recommended termination and the President’s decision will be final.
- The employee or the employee’s representative will be afforded the opportunity to present testimony, other evidence, and argument on matters relevant to the proposed termination; cross examine witnesses and the right to counsel at the employee’s expense.
- The College will bear the expenses of the court reporter who will transcribe the proceedings.
- The hearing can be public or private at the election of the employee.
- The President shall issue subpoenas compelling the appearance of witnesses.
- The President may issue subpoenas to any witness who the President believes may have knowledge or evidence related to the issues presented for determination.
- The President must give written notice to the employee of his or her decision regarding the proposed termination within ten (10) calendar days after making a decision.
- Notice shall also inform the employee of their right to contest the decision.
- A decision to terminate an employee or suspend the employee with pay shall be effective immediately.
- Tenured or non-probationary employees shall continue to receive pay and benefits until a final ruling by the Hearing Officer or seventy-five (75) calendar days whichever occurs first from the date of the President’s termination decision unless the termination is based on an act of moral turpitude, immorality, abandonment of job, incarceration or neglect of duty.
- An employee must file a notice of appeal with the Department of Postsecondary Education within 15 days of receiving the decision.
- The Department of Postsecondary Education will refer the appeal to the Executive Director of the Alabama State Bar Association.
- The notice of appeal must also state the grounds upon which it is based, and a copy must be provided to the college President.
- The hearing officer will be selected from a panel of neutrals comprised of five retired Alabama judges, excluding judges of probate.
- The parties may select a hearing officer from among the names provided or from any other source by agreement.
- The parties will select a hearing officer by a process of alternating strikes.
- The hearing officer selection process will be completed within ten (10) calendar days of receipt by the parties of the panel of potential hearing officers.
- The college must compile and file the record of the administrative proceedings, including any hearing transcripts, with the hearing officer within 20 days after its receipt of the notice of appeal.
- The appeal is submitted to the hearing officer who will hold a hearing.
- Deference is to be given to the decision of the President.
- A final ruling, either affirming or reversing the decision of the President, must be rendered within five (5) days after the hearing.
- If the President’s decision is set aside by the hearing officer, the employee will be reinstated and credited with any benefits due.
- Either party may appeal an adverse decision rendered by the hearing officer to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals.
Reductions in or modifications to employee compensation or benefits or the length of the work/school year are not subjectto review provided:
- prospective in effect
- based on the recommendation of the President
- applied to similarly situated employee
Layoffs or other personnel actions that are unavoidable reductions in the work force beyond normal attrition due to decreased student enrollment or shortage of revenues are not subject to challenge or review at the request of the employee. State Board of Education Policy 624.01: Reduction in Force must be followed.
- An employee may be suspended for cause without pay on written recommendation of the President for up to twenty (20) days.
- The President must give the employee reasons for the proposed suspension and an opportunity to present evidence either in person or in writing prior to the suspension taking effect
- Suspensions of tenured or non-probationary employees in excess of 20 days are subject to the notice, hearing and review requirements and procedures that apply to terminations of tenured and non-probationary employees under the Student’s First Act.
- Non-tenured teachers may be reassigned to any teaching position or work location that is under the control of the employing college as the needs of the college require.
- Tenured teachers must receive written notice of reassignment not later than the twentieth (20th) calendar day after the first day of classes for students.
- A tenured teacher may not be involuntarily reassigned more than one (1) time in a school year.
- Reassignment of a tenured teacher may not entail a loss of or reduction in compensation.
- Such reassignments are not subject to challenge or review.
- Non-probationary employees, other than teachers, may be transferred to any position for which they are qualified at any work location that is under the control and jurisdiction of the employer college.
- If the transfer is without loss of or reduction in compensation and written notice of the proposed transfer is issued to the employee by the President not less than fifteen (15) days before a final decision on the transfer is to be made by the President, the transfer is not subject to challenge or review.
- The transfer may not take effect until fifteen (15) calendar days after the decision is made.
- Probationary teachers and employees may be transferred to another position that provides for a lower rate or pay or amount of compensation or a shorter term of employment if:
- the President provides notice of the proposed transfer,
-such notice contains a written explanation of the effect of the transfer on the compensation of the employee, and
-notice informs the employee that the employee may object in writing.
- No such transfer shall take effect until fifteen (15) calendar days after the President’s final decision. Such transfers are not subject to challenge or review.
- Transfers or reassignments that are made as part of or in conjunction with a reduction in force or in order to comply with state and federal law are not subject to challenge or review.
- Such transfers are not subject to challenge or review.
- Proposed involuntary transfer of a tenured teacher or non-probationary employee to another position that provides for a lower rate of pay or amount of pay or shorter term of employment.
- Subject to the same notice, hearing and review requirements and procedures as terminations.
The President of the College may in the exercise of sound administrative discretion place any employee on paid administrative leave.
An employee who has attained tenure or non-probationary status and has been denied a hearing by the College as required by the Student’s First Act may appeal for relief directly the Chief Administrative Law Judge of the Office of Administrative Hearing, Division of Administrative Law Judges, Office of the Attorney General.
Leave of absence for a period of one (1) year for good cause may be granted to an employee by an employer without impairing the tenure or non-probationary status of the employee. The employer may extend the leave of absence for one (1) year. Leave of absence for military service shall be as provided in §31-2-13 of the Code of Alabama.