To the Editor:
I applaud Arthur E. Wise, the president of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, for his stance regarding Scott McConnell, the teacher-candidate expelled from his college program because of his educational philosophy (“Teacher-Hopeful Runs Afoul of ‘Dispositions’,” Feb. 1, 2006).
Mr. Wise’s bottom-line assessment emphasizes the fact that a teacher-in-training’s philosophy or ideology is not pertinent unless it is exhibited as improper behavior in the classroom and becomes detrimental to students. This stance correctly safeguards fairness for pupils along with equal fairness for those aspiring to be teachers.
What disturbs me most is that Mr. McConnell’s due-process rights were violated. This cannot be tolerated in the field. In education, the purpose of due process is to secure permanence within the profession, so that personnel are not unjustly terminated (Watson v. Burnett). Educators protected by due process cannot have their rights violated by a supervising agency (Flannery v. Jenkins Township School Directors). Educational leaders in colleges and universities must recognize that, in procedural matters, notification must fully inform the person of the criteria used for selecting him or her to be excluded from a program, so that if grounds for appeal exist, the person will be alerted (Thayer v. Anacortes School District).
Mr. McConnell’s education philosophy led to his expulsion from Le Moyne College’s graduate education program. A New York state appeals court properly ordered his reinstatement. Any deviation in procedure is interpreted by the courts as a violation of due process. Courts will support procedure as stated (Linden School District No. 24 v. Porter; James v. School Township of Troy; Ashby v. School Township of Liberty). School officials at Le Moyne College apparently violated their own procedures as set forth in the college’s handbook.
Le Moyne has a long-standing positive reputation. This one incident should not reflect negatively on the institution. But the incident does reflect faulty thinking.
William A. Kritsonis
Professor of Educational Leadership
Prairie View A&M University
Prairie View, Texas
A version of this article appeared in the March 01, 2006 edition of Education Week as Safeguard Due Process in Teacher Training