How to Fire a Bad Teacher

To fire a teacher you need documentation. This is a teaching phrase that refers to a specific process that explains why a teacher is bad.

To create your own documentation you need a notebook of paper or something similar (3-ring binder). Give it a title and all that, then record the first incident of bad teaching.

Include the date and a description of the incident, include all those involved. It doesn’t have to be more than a few sentences.

Continue recording these incidents over a few months, maybe even ask others to help you.

If this seems like a lot of work you can ask a principal or school administrator to do it for you. They should already have a file on every teacher and be able to follow the district policy for documentation.

You may run into some difficulty here if you sound more like a bad parent than a good one. Remember that principal and administrators time is overwhelmingly spent on problem students. These are often nasty situations involving divorce, social services, and, of course, bad grades, bad behavior, and detention.

You have to stand apart from that and saying something like “last year we never had a problem” doesn’t work. New skills are required in each grade level and, all too often, students struggle in a higher grade and parents blame teachers. As if fractions weren’t hard enough, students have parents who don’t help them with fractions and instead blame teachers.

As a teacher you can almost predict the complaints as they come in at multiplication tables, long division, long-term science projects, and so on.

In fact, these complaints happen so often that teachers need protection from them. They also need protection in order to teach touchy subjects. History teachers to teach Islam. English teachers to assign controversial books. Science teachers to talk about sex and Darwin. Even Math teachers need to be able to raise the bar without getting pulled back by complaints.

Yes, I am talking about tenure. It was originally created, and still exists to protect teachers from you. If you’re upset, irrational, prejudiced, or conservative then tenure exists to prevent you from ruining a classroom.

It is important to keep this all in mind when making your complaint. Even better if you have a documented series of events that describe the bad teacher.

Once you get them to listen, the district policy should go into motion which almost always involves more documentation, a teacher evaluation, and an official warning.

Don’t expect the teacher to be fired right away. They are usually given a chance to fix their issues and often another school year to do so.

From the principal and district perspective the teacher could be having a bad year because of a divorce or a serious health issue.  Or, it could be that one person’s complaint isn’t enough to justify firing a teacher that deals with 30-200 students.

To finally get this person out of a classroom you will need to be persistent. If the teacher really is that bad it shouldn’t be hard to get other parents involved. Have them record their incidents in your documentation book, or have them create their own.

Find a way to pass this along to parents in the next school year. All too often the issue gets dropped because your child moves up a grade. There are sometimes parents groups or a PTA that can help. In my experience, several members of the PTA only show up to keep a watch on bad teachers.

Finally, make friends at the district office. I recommend going straight to the top by requesting a meeting with the superintendent. Short of that find someone in charge, like human resources, and keep in contact with them regularly. They will be able to tell you the fate of this bad teacher.

I would even request the district policy for firing teachers.

Remember, bad teachers never get fired because no one wants to do this work. Stick with it and it will happen.


Join the Conversation


  1. Have you ever done this? It sounds great in theory.

    First, how do you define an incident? Is it that your child has lost interest in school? Comes home in tears? What if at the end of the year you realize that the teacher only covered half the math standards?

    Second, none of this process makes the situation for the child better. Because it takes months and sometimes years, the child still suffers with a bad teacher. And the teacher will likely make life more difficult for the child once the complaint is known.

    Finally, would you tolerate the same sub par performance from any other profession? Why do we put up with it from teachers?

    1. Thx for comment. You did get me interested in writing this!

      First, I think that this process is similar to any industry. Getting rid of a bad boss seems just as difficult, no?

      Second, I do have experience with this. I taught for a year in a public school. I had 180+ students and a home room class.

      I was trained to document everything from the other side, teacher to parent. By law my special needs students required it. For parent teacher conferences I had to do it. For a few students I even created their own book of issues.

      It was hard at first and seemed like extra work. But, the first time someone challenged a grade or discipline issue it convinced me of the value. It wasn’t my word vs theirs, it was fact.

      I still document everything to this day in all my other careers.

      I understand your concerns and frustrations. I had to teach myself to write things down when they happen and sometimes after the fact. You can write anything down but you will find it challenging to describe the badness.

      Often I would write something emotional then come back and change it. I also had to really think about what bad teaching is.

      If you can convince yourself to do this I bet it will be worth your while.

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