Discipline cases involving teachers will now take shorter time to conclude and the affected will be allowed to bring witnesses to support their cases.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has released new guidelines on discipline cases that also assigned roles to deputy county directors and sub-county directors.
Previously, only county directors of education could interdict teachers and the inclusion of the two levels of management in the hearing of discipline cases is expected to quicken the process.
The details are contained in new guidelines for management of discipline for teachers released yesterday, whose implementation started on November 1.
The document, seen by The Standard on Saturday and signed by TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia says interdicted teachers will now be allowed to bring witnesses during the hearing. They will also have a chance to appeal the decisions they feel are unfair to them.
The guidelines assign commissioners the critical role of approving verdicts arrived at by discipline panels and allowing room for appeals.
This means that commissioners will no longer go around the country to listen to discipline cases, as is the current practice.
This also means that the duration for determination of cases will be reduced and the teacher gap necessitated by interdictions or prolonged verdicts would be sealed.
In a circular dated October 31, Ms Macharia says the guidelines are aimed at maintaining strict observance of the regulations governing the teaching service.
“The objective of these guidelines is to complement the requirements set out in the codes regulating the teaching service and ensure that management of discipline cases is conducted in a simple, fair and effective manner,” Ms Macharia says.
The document states that schools’ Boards of Management (BoM) will interdict secondary school teachers found guilty of professional misconduct at the investigation stage.
County directors will only interdict secondary school principals. Deputy county directors will interdict primary school head teachers and secondary schools teachers in institutions where the BoM is not functional.
Sub-county directors will interdict primary school teachers while the TSC Chief Executive Officer will interdict staff in cases when investigations are instituted by the head office, according to the guidelines.
Cases of immoral behaviour, neglect of duty, absenteeism, desertion of duty, insubordination, mismanagement of public funds and conviction of criminal offence will attract interdiction. The document also specifies the amount of evidence needed for each case during hearing.
The detailed document explaining the discipline process says where a teacher is interdicted, the case will be investigated and the person invited at least one month before the hearing date.
If the teacher pleads guilty during the hearing, he or she shall be required to offer an explanation to enable the panel take appropriate action. In the event the teacher pleads not guilty, witnesses will be invited to testify.
“The teachers’ witnesses shall be cross-examined by the presenting officer and the teacher accorded an opportunity to make his/her final statements,” Ms Macharia says.
She says the decision on the appropriate punishment lies with the discipline panel based on the documents tabled and the evidence adduced during the hearing.
Macharia says, however, that any decision arrived at must be in line with the Code of Regulations for teachers.
This means that if a teacher is not guilty, interdiction is revoked. If a teacher has committed an offence that does not warrant removal from the register, he may be warned in writing, surcharged or suspended for a period not exceeding six months.
The teacher may also be retired in public interest, dismissed from teaching service or be referred for medical evaluation to determine suitability to be retained as a teacher.
“If a teacher is guilty, his or her name will be removed from the register,” Ms Macharia says.
But before making the decision, Ms Macharia says, the discipline panel must determine the gravity of the allegations, the teacher’s past records and their conduct during hearing.