The FDAB has jurisdiction over public school employees defined as “contract” teachers. A “contract teacher” is defined as “any teacher who has been regularly employed by a school district for a probationary period of three successive school years, and who has been retained for the next succeeding school year.” In 1997, the legislature amended this provision to allow school boards to enter agreements that provide for shorter probationary periods of at least one year for “teachers who have satisfied the three-year probationary period in another Oregon school district.” The FDAB, operating through panels, hears appeals from contract teacher “dismissals” or “contract non-extensions.”
Excluded from FDAB jurisdiction are all “probationary” teachers, “substitute” and “temporary” teachers under the definitions in ORS 342.815(6),(8) and (10). “Probationary teacher” is “any teacher employed by a fair dismissal district who is not a contract teacher.” The language places all three categories into that of probationary status. Probationary teachers have limited rights of appeal in dismissal and non-renewal situations that do not include FDAB proceedings.
“Administrator” is defined as a teacher “the majority of whose employed time is devoted to service as a supervisor, principal, vice principal or director of a department or the equivalent in a fair dismissal district.” Administrators have the right to challenge both dismissals and a “reduction in pay” before the FDAB. Administrators may not appeal the non-extension of a contract.
Teacher and Administrator Employees of Charter Schools
Charter schools are “public” schools by statutory definition. The Fair Dismissal Appeals Law applies to charter schools if agreed to by the sponsor and charter school.
Other categories of school employees not within FDAB jurisdiction
The statute expressly excludes individuals holding positions as “superintendents, deputy superintendents and assistant superintendents” in the school district from FDAB jurisdiction. Also excluded from FDAB jurisdiction are public school employees traditionally described as “classified employees” (e.g., school cooks, custodians, grounds-keepers and maintenance workers).
Other actions by school districts not subject to FDAB jurisdiction
The Fair Dismissal Appeals Board also does not have jurisdiction over layoffs, referred to as reductions in force (RIFs). The statute provides separate procedural and substantive rights in the case of layoff terminations that result from a lack of funds or adjustment of classes due to administrative decision.
A teacher and school district may mutually agree to use arbitration as an alternative to the FDAB hearing process. The arbitrator is explicitly required by the statute to use “the same reasons, rules and levels of evidence as required for the Fair Dismissal Appeals Boards.”
A separate alternative to an FDAB panel decision is permitted under the statute if the parties agree to a mutual “waiver” of rights under the statute and “if third party review of any dismissal or non-extension of a contract teacher is available.” For example, a teacher may challenge a dismissal through grievance arbitration, as provided in a collective bargaining agreement.
Administrators have no alternative. Employees in the school administrator category are not covered in the statutory waiver provisions and therefore cannot “opt out” of FDAB proceedings, which are their sole avenue of review for any dismissal or reduction in pay appeals.