Minnesota teachers charged with felonies could be suspended without pay in bill that passed state House panel

/ 6 March 2012 / jennifer

Megan Boldt, Pioneer Press, March 6, 2012 –

Minnesota teachers who are charged with a felony could be suspended without pay under a bill that a House committee approved Tuesday.

State law allows a school board to fire immediately a teacher convicted of a felony. But if that person is just charged with such a crime, most school districts in Minnesota can only put the instructor on paid suspension until the legal proceedings and a district discharge hearing are finished.

Three school districts – St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth – already can suspend teachers without pay if they’re charged with a felony. The bill requires school districts to give a teacher back pay if the charges are dropped and the instructor is not penalized or terminated.

School board officials argue the issue has caused outrage in some communities when a teacher is accused of a crime and still draws a public paycheck.

The statewide teachers union, Education Minnesota, said the bill could be problematic. There are situations where teachers are falsely accused, and taking away pay before a teacher is acquitted or found guilty just adds to the turmoil, lobbyist Jan Alswager said.

Megan Boldt can be reached at 651-228-5495. Follow her at twitter.com/meganboldt.