Chapter 16
Due Process Rights of Teachers

Substantive due process

Board of Regents v. Roth (1972):  The U.S. Supreme Court held that a nontenured faculty member terminated at the end of his contract period was not entitled to procedural due process under the 14th Amendment.  In holding as such, the Court noted that since the faculty member was nontenured, he held no substantive due process property interest in continued employment; since no property interest was implicated, no procedural due process was guaranteed.  Moreover, Roth's future employment prospects were not jeopardized by the termination.

Perry v. Sindermann (1972):  The U.S. Supreme Court held that an Odessa (TX) Junior College teacher was entitled to procedural due process prior to his dismissal.  The teacher claimed he was dismissed because of his comments critical of the Board of Regents and claimed that the dismissal violated both his 1st amendment free speech rights and his 14 amendment due process rights.  The Supreme Court, in remanding this case, held that both rights may have been violated.  In holding that the due process rights were implicated, the court cited a de facto tenure provision which may have had the effect of elevating Sindermann's employment to a property interest.

Procedural due process

Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill (1985): In a case combining the dismissals of classified civil servants from Ohio school districts, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the provision of Ohio law which required dismissal only for cause and also provided for administrative review of dismissal decisions created property and liberty interests under the 14th Amendment which entitled the dismissed servants to procedural due process.

The vagueness test:  Loyalty oaths

Wieman v. Updegraff (1952):  The U.S. Supreme Court held that an Oklahoma loyalty oath was unconstitutionally vague and violated the due process rights of an Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University) faculty member who refused to take the oath.  In this case, payment of salaries was withheld for failure to take the oath.  The negative oath in which state employees swore that they were not affiliated nor members of subversive organizations violated due process because it vaguely classified knowing affiliation with innocent affiliation.

Connell v. Higgenbotham (1971):  The U.S. Supreme Court held unconstitutional a portion of Florida's loyalty oath for state employees in which employees were required to swear that they did not believe in the forceful or violent overthrow of the U.S. or Florida government.  This "disclaimer" portion of the oath prescribed "summary dismissal" from public employment without due process and was therefore unconstitutional.

Irrationality and presumption

Cleveland Board v. LaFleur (1974):  The U.S. Supreme Court held that the Cleveland school district maternity leave and return to work policies amounted to an arbitrary and unconstitutional violation of due process.  The maternity leave policy required teachers to take maternity leave without pay at least five months prior to childbirth; the return to work policy required that teachers could not return to work until the beginning of the next semester which followed the date at which children reached three months.  The court found that no rational relationship existed between the arbitrary dates and the valid state interest to maintain the continuity of instruction.