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Succinct Statement

Discuss about the Teacher Excessive Absenteeism Decision.

Teachers are the tremendously important aspects of any society. They form an extreme societal facet for different reasons. For instance, they educate the youths who in turn grow to become great leaders in the society. Indisputably, teachers impart knowledge in their prime years and anything that children learn stay with them throughout their lives. Apart from parents, teachers define the future of children thus make the future safe, secure, and great (MoE, 2017). It appears that nearly every must have attended school at any point of their lives and they can attest to how the right educator values his or her job. In fact, when a teacher discovers that children get interested in the subject, they thus develop a learning thirst in them to allow them acquire and learn knowledge.

Teacher absenteeism is a problem that must be addressed with a great seriousness it deserves. According to Miller (2008), teacher nonattendance adversely affects the performance and achievements of students thus influence the school culture negatively. The Maldives Civil Service Regulations provide an opportunity for temporary employment. These temporary employees, especially who replace the k-8-12 teachers must adhere to the codes of conduct as provided by the MoD (CSC, 2014). These unqualified replacements have influenced the classroom and learning environment negatively. The excessive absenteeism of teachers is an impediment to an enhanced education system (UNESCO, 2014). Without a doubt, when educators engage in an excessive absenteeism, it becomes the responsibility of the supervisor or principal to determine the impact on learners. Lewis (2006) argues that when the student’s achievement is compromised, challenging the attendance records of a teacher to facilitate termination might not be a pleasant decision, but necessary (Bradley, Green, & Leeves, 2007). Since arriving at the best decision was difficult, it was prudent to use the following decision-making model.

One of the teaching staff had taken an excessive sick leave. The principal of the institution felt concerned about the impact on the absenteeism of the educator on his students. Besides, his concern revolved on the impact on the other teaching members whom he feared would copy this habit if he continued to sit back. He had to act on this absenteeism case.

In this situation, two things were at stake: other staff members and students. Without a doubt, when such situations arise that can cause termination of staff’s contract, he had to consider in defining the objectives:

Invitation of the Ministry of Education Official

As the Principal of the institution, he was concerned about the excessive absences of our teacher since 2010. Since the teaching member was new because he was just transferred to this school recently, he was compelled to review his previous attendance records. To his dismay, the teacher had the worst record, as absenteeism was a major issue in the former station. With this information at hand, he found the best ground to address the issue. Unfortunately, he felt disappointed because the previous Principal never informed me about the issue as the government was initiating his transfer.

As a school manager and administrator, he made the first effort to seek an appointment with the casualty. He used the opportunity to express his disappointment and concern regarding the impact of teacher’s absence on our school and his students. He used the chance to talk to him about the significance of all teachers to work as a team to enhance student performance. In fact, he made his position clear to him that weak links in the education were never condoned in the institution. He further discussed with him at length about the consequences of frequent absences and reliant on substitute staff on the performance of students (Vargas, 2012).

Despite his claim of legitimate illness, his doctor only provided information on one issue thus justifying his absences for some days. The doctor’s notes showed that the teacher needed some bed rest for some few days. To this effect, we discussed other sick days and made progress. This served as the first instance of notifying the teacher that the absences were detrimental to student learning process.

He later planned for several meetings with the teacher. At every meeting, he made summary notes about his attendance records and captured the excused and unexcused absences. He further attached detailed information relating to our discussion such as his earnings. Indeed, he has, on several occasions warned him of termination actions if the situation persisted. After the meetings, he made the commitment to change by signing the summaries. He knew the situation would improve, but only to learn that moved from worse to worst.

When the situation worsened, he took the responsibility to invite the district supervisor to join us in this discussion. The district Personnel honoured the invitation and helped us in discussing the problem. After a long deliberation, the teacher made a commitment to honour the counsel. With this agreement in place, we signed the notes to formalize the meeting. According to the correspondent from the meeting, the educator promised to change by improving his attendance rates. However, he opted to miss the next five days without an excuse. As a result, he was concerned and sought for administrative hearings. This procedure met the disciplinary provisions applicable in the institution thus allowing for the navigation of the issue.

Administrative hearing

This process was important in the disciplinary procedures of a teacher. In the hearing, the attendees included the district education supervisor, the student services supervisor, the teacher, the educator’s father, and school principal. Since the administrative hearing team was never a union district, the attendees never allowed the union representative in this meeting. To beginning the meeting, the principle presented all the previous records and documentations relating to the case. The District Personnel also provided the list of absences the teacher had taken during the last four years.

At this stage, the teacher provided no reasons to support his rampant cases of absenteeism. This made it difficult for the administrative hearing proceeding to arrive at the best decision. The teacher never provided the supportive documents to “show cause” why he should be punished. The District Supervisor, who attended the meeting, took time and reviewed the facts based on the records provided. Considering that the employee never proved his case, the hearing agreed that termination of the teacher was the best decision. The hearing team unanimously allowed the teacher to appeal this decision because the rule of natural justice was inevitable (Groves, n.d).

The attendance of the teacher was pathetic as the records of the district supervisor confirmed high absenteeism rate. The teacher never challenged the records of the education officer. Nevertheless, the educator held that he had a genuine reason to justify the absence (Chaudhury et al., 2012). During the 2016/2017 school calendar, the educator was serving as a caregiver to his father after an accident and then later underwent quadruple bypass surgery. In the previously academic year (2015/2016), the teacher underwent the worst surgery, while in 2014; he got involved in a car accident. Since 2014, the teacher has been involved in a worst abusive domestic relationship thus compelling him to miss work regularly. The teacher had also suffered from post-partum depression thus affecting him.

The MoE has no issues with the reasons provided in supporting his absence; the officer only found that the teacher only had one approved leave as defined in Glynn (2012). Unfortunately, the educator having realized that his absence was causing jitters, he requested filled a form of Leave of Absence immediately the Principal had initiated the disciplinary actions including the tenure charges. The issue here is beyond personal injuries and even events that compelled the teacher to miss work. It is for the education officer to determine whether the teacher should continue as an employee yet he misses significant workload thus affecting the school.

Analysis and Decision

From the 2010-11 school colanders through the 2012-13 school years, the teacher missed a complete 60 school days annually. In 2013-14 and 2014-15, he was out of school for approximately 200 days combined. Based on the testimony of the school principal, the excessive absenteeism pattern disrupted the instruction continuity for the students and affecting the collaboration between the teaching staff (Whitney, McGuire, & McCullough, 2004). It even had a long-term effect on the educational planning thus making it difficult to determine the progress of learners.

However, the teacher put on a strong face and defence by claiming that he was working with two substitute teachers in handling the class as explained by Vargas (2012). One teacher was Special Education, teacher and an elementary education teacher filled his position. The teacher testified that he was always available for consultations for both parents and substitute teachers (Chaudhury et al., 2012). Conversely, he downplayed his significance of being present in the classroom. Undeniably, the school could have had qualified substitute teachers; his excessive absence showed a change of personnel before the students. These changes in the classroom have a potential impact as it impeded planning and affected collaboration between the staff as noted by the principal. It clearly affected the instruction continuity (Cheah, 2015).


The MoE slammed the teacher with three charges including neglect of duty, misconduct, and alleging incapacity. The unbecoming conduct and neglect of duty confirmed that the teacher disregarded his duties. Unfortunately, the provided evidence never revealed any aspects of disregard or fault because nothing justified that the educator avoided his duties intentionally. In fact, his excessive absenteeism is caused by various unfortunate events such as personal injuries and illness, father’s illness, and domestic problems. For this reason, the appeal chamber headed by the MoE exonerated the teacher from neglect of duty and unbecoming conduct because the principal could not prove.

However, the principal demonstrated the aspects of incapacity. For instance, there was sufficient evidence showing that the high absenteeism rate made it difficult to rely on him. As a result, the teacher could not meet the responsibilities attached to his position. Although the appeal team argued that the reasons for the absences could have been genuine, the rate was intolerable because it affected the students in the classroom and even the effectiveness of learning. For example, the teacher was absent for about 20 school days annually that is beyond the paid personal and sick leave time (Farrell & Venator, 2012). In the subsequent two years, the teacher was absent for 200 days that is almost a full school year. Without a doubt, the consistent and repeated pattern of absenteeism diminished his value in the school including teachers, students, and the parents. To this effect, the incapacity changes were appropriate as demonstrated by Finlayson (2009).

For the reasons given, the only outstanding one is incapacity. This is a sufficient ground to warrant dismissal from the profession because it brought embarrassment to teachers and put the noble profession into dispute.

The decision was in line with the Maldivian Civil Service Act that expects teachers who abscond duties for about 15 consecutive days would automatically cease to be employees. The Maldives Civil Service Regulations provides that when an employee avoids duties for fifteen conservative days, the individual shall have violated the regulation leading to dismissal.  In any natural justice system, it is fair to follow the laid down procedures to punish the teacher and get his side of the story as explained by Oliver and Reschly (2014). This process followed a real judicial mechanism that allows an accused person to defend his position. The administrative proceedings as provided in the Maldives education rules ensures the claimant adduce evidence to enhance punishment. The law compels any state-appointed officer to head the hearings so that he can perform as a judge. The law further identifies charges that the principal can prefer against a teacher.

As spelt out in the Maldivian Civil Service Act, the penalty was deserved because the educator had absconded duties for more days and the least penalty would be expulsion from the profession because it affected students’ learning (UNICEF, 2000). The use of this rule allows the involved officer to use the best penalty based on the previous proceedings and records. The ‘just cause standard’ principle is also an important factor in determining penalties (Cheah, 2015). In any decision-making, it is critical to assess the guilt of a teacher and determine the penalty. Miller (2012) found that this problem could be achieved by considering various principles such as progressive discipline, teacher’s innocence assumption, the years of employments, and the bar of dismissal.

In any disciplinary proceedings, the accused is assumed innocent, and the panel has the burden to prove otherwise. The Maldivian Civil Service Act allows for the imposition of non-persuasion risks on the MoE (UNICEF, 2000). The preponderance of evidence would justify the proof. To this effect, the penalty would not stand if the MoE presents insufficient evidentiary standards. However, if the evidence provides are equally balanced, it would be prudent for the officer to favour the teacher, not the complainant. Importantly, the Hearing Officer should stick to the Maldivian Civil Service Act, especially when handling the issues regarding performance (UNICEF, 2000). Based on the provided evidence and insufficient argument of the teacher, the termination decision was justifiable.

The government has established statutes that state the requirements for the attendance of teachers. These written policies also detail the procedures that Ministry of Education provisions can use to record teacher’s attendances. Based on the Maldivian Civil Service Act, the educators are held accountable for the attendance standards as provided for in regulations. Teachers are civil servants in Maldives and are treated like any other employees in case of any misconduct. However, an employee can exceed the attendance policies based on the circumstances at hand. For instance, a teacher can maintain that his absence never had an impact on students. Rogers and Vegas (2009) found that as part of the employee relations principle, excessive absenteeism can lead to termination of service. In cases where absenteeism is excessive, the law allows the Hearing Officer to impose a penalty, in particular where it affects the learning process and to teach productivity and performance as affirmed by Sezgin, Kosar, Kilinc, and Ogdem (2014).

The officer can also base his decision on the testimony of the teacher during the administrative hearings. In fact, the teacher never provided any testimony. He, however, provided the doctor’s notes that never captured all the absent days (Lewis, 2006). Therefore, he failed to rationalize his absence, as most of the responses were evasive. The assessment of the situation indicates that the teacher could not improve his attendances. Although the dismissal decision looks punitive, it is the best. There is need for all employees to work according to the Maldivian Civil Service Code of conduct. Nonetheless, the MoE can take appropriate action including advising, fining, reduction in classification, re-assigning of duties, or reprimanding (MCS, n.d).

In the situation at hand, the Ministry of Education provided satisfactory evidence that the teacher had engaged in excessive absenteeism behaviour. As a result, the rating of the educator has been disappointing. Since the institution has established regulations and policies on absenteeism and adopted the Maldives Civil Service Regulations, the teacher must always act or behave in a way that restores the dignity of service leading to a satisfactory rating (Roza, 2007). This made the MoE, through the commission and Principal justifies the impact on the continuity and performance students (Miller, Murnane, & Willett, 2008). The officer noted that the teacher failed to take responsibility to honour and observe his working hours. As such, he failed to acknowledge the harm his action caused students. It was also proved that the teacher had undergone through disciplinary processes and never changed.

The decision regarding this penalty is based on the inaction of the previous warnings imposed on the teacher. The factor that determined the penalty was harming that excessive absenteeism did to the school, teachers, parents, and students. Indeed, the respondent was expected to play a crucial role in teaching the children (Gottfried, 2010). To this effect, his absence disregarded this impact as students deserve to be taught and parents expected the teacher to perform his duties properly. Since the accused lied on his medical records and conditions, the preferred charge was justified. For example, when an individual has been put on notice and informed that any further absenteeism would be intolerable, and then he proceeds to skip school days again (Shiuna, & Sodiq, 2013). The problem could be beyond the scope thus the possibility of recommending rehabilitation and extended suspension could have helped the respondent.

Removing bad and terrible educators can help in fixing the problems of excessive absenteeism in public schools. Pandey and Upadhyay (2016) maintained that the principal has to support teachers, but also facilitate the removal of ineffective teachers from class. The firing or dismissing of such teachers is never meant to punish the society. It aims at protecting the teachers and students from damages thus improve the quality of the teaching career (Snowden & Boone, 2007). To remove inadequate teachers, the school should have policy mechanisms that enhance quality education and capacity building. Unlike other teaching resources, a teacher is the only resource that can enable a student to learn. Indeed, a student learning is achievable through a competent classroom teacher. These teachers have legal duty to protect children and offer the best teaching services in the classroom. Under the Article 22 of the Employment Act, the dismissal of a civil servant like a teacher must follow due process.

Conclusion

In Maldives, teachers who perform dismally have no room to remain in the learning institutions. For example, even teachers handling grade 8, 9 or 11 and 12 classes would be thrown out if they abscond duties for fifteen consecutive days without informing to the head supervisor or leading teacher as provided in the Maldives Civil Service Regulations and Article 22 of the Employment Act. Even if the teacher gets absent for one day he or she has to take extra classes for the missed sessions. The question that people ponder is why permitting them to work or be in the schools. This underlying institutionalized problem seems to emphasize the teacher’s personal welfare instead of students. In fact, the teacher would not be bothered of any convictions for their unbecoming conducts. It is thus the time for the society to improve teacher’s status and compare them with other competent professionals. This can involve recruiting and selecting people who have relevant skills to teach. The principal and MoE should make tough decisions to avoid unbecoming practices among teachers. For instance, teachers need to understand that excessive absenteeism can cost them their job. This conduct puts the lives of many stakeholders in danger. Therefore, with proper disciplinary proceedings as undertaken in this paper, sanity will return to the public schools. In the end, he believed he made the right decision to safeguard and protect the students because they stood to be compromised if the teacher was unpunished. Although the appeal disregarded some accusations against the teacher such as unbecoming conduct and neglect of duty, they found him culpable of excessive absenteeism thus defining the ground for dismissal.

References

Bradley, S., Green, C., & Leeves, G. (2007). Worker Absence and Shirking: Evidence from Matched Teacher-School Data. Labour Economics, 14(3), 319-334.

Chaudhury, N. et al. (2012). Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(1), 91-116.

Cheah, K.S.L. (2015). Teachers’ Classroom Control and Decision-Making: A Case Study of a Private School in Subang, Selangor. Australian Journal of Business and Economic Studies, 1(1), 1-17. Retrieved from <https://studentsrepo.um.edu.my/5992/6/Journal_1_(Only_1st_page).pdf>

Civil Service Commission (CSC). (2014). Maldives Civil Service Regulation. Regulation no. 2014/R-311. Retrieved from https://www.csc.gov.mv/v3/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/MALDIVES-CIVIL-SERVICE-REGULATION-final-review.pdf.

Farrell, J. & Venator, J. (2012). Fact Sheet: Paid sick Days. Washington: Centre for American Progress. Retrieved from <https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/labor/news/2012/08/16/12031/fact-sheet-paid-sick-days/> 

Finlayson, M. (2009). The Impact of Teacher Absenteeism on Student Performance: The Case of the Cobb County School District. Dissertation. Retrieved from <https://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1006&context=etd>

Glynn, S.J. (2012). Fact Sheet: Paid Family and Medical Leave. Washington: Centre for American Progress. Retrieved from < https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/labor/news/2012/08/16/11980/fact-sheet-paid-family-and-medical-leave/>

Gottfried, M.A. (2010). Evaluating the Relationship between Student Attendance and Achievement in Urban Elementary and Middle Schools: An Instrumental Variables Approach. American Educational Research Journal, 47(2), 434-465.

Groves, M. (n.d). Exclusion of the Rules of Natural Justice. Monash University Law Review, 39(2), 286-313. Retrieved from <https://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/MonashULawRw/2013/11.pdf>

Lewis, R. (2006). Classroom discipline in Australia. Handbook of Classroom Management: Research, Practice and Contemporary Issues, 1193-1214.

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Miller, R. (2008).Tales of Teacher Absence. Washington: Centre for American Progress.

Miller, R. (2012, Nov). Teacher Absence as a Leading Indicator of Student Achievement. Washington, DC: Centre for American Progress. Retrieved from <https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/TeacherAbsence-6.pdf>

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Pandey, K., & Upadhyay, P. (2016). Promoting Global Peace and Civic Engagement through Education. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

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Sezgin, F., Kosar, S., & Kilinc, A.C., & Ogdem, Z. (2014). Teacher Absenteeism in Turkish Primary Schools: A Qualitative Perspective from School Principals. International Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 6(3), 612-625. Retrieved from <https://www.iojes.net/userfiles/article/iojes_1473.pdf>

Shiuna, M., & Sodiq, A. (2013). Improving Education in the Maldives: Stakeholder Perspectives on the Maldives Education. International Journal of Small Economies, 4(1), 23-38. Retrieved from <https://ijse.maldivesresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/IJSE-ISSUE-4-Shiuna-Sodiq-2013-Education-Forum-Maldives.pdf>

Snowden, D. J., & Boone, M. E. (2007). A Leader's Framework for Decision Making. Harvard Business Review, 85(11), 68.

UNESCO. (2014). Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality For All: Summary. Paris: UNESCO.

UNICEF.  (2000). Defining Quality in Education. New York, NY: UNICEF. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/education/files/QualityEducation.PDF.

Vargas, C. (2012, Aug 16). Camden School District Hires Private Substitute-Teacher Agency. The Philadelphia Inquirer. <https://articles.philly.com/2012-08-16/news/33233648_1_substitute-teachers-teacher-certification-haddon-township-school-district>

Whitney, S. N., McGuire, A. L., & McCullough, L. B. (2004). A Typology of Shared Decision Making, Informed Consent, and Simple Consent. Annals of Internal Medicine, 140(1), 54-59.

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