The month of December is a busy one for school administrators. In
addition to supervising basketball and wrestling contests, printing programs for
the holiday concert, and rounding up members of the PTO to provide cookies
for the teachers’ holiday tea, administrators must be sure they have evaluated
all probationary teachers during the first semester.
All probationary employees must be evaluated during the first
semester of the 2015-2016 school year. You also must schedule a post
conference for each probationary teacher’s evaluation prior to the
beginning of second semester so that there is no confusion about
whether the evaluation truly occurred during first semester. See NEB.
REV. STAT. § 79-828(2).
The evaluation statute applies to probationary teachers and probationary
administrators, such as principals and athletic directors. The failure to
evaluate probationary certificated employees in the manner required by statute
can result in a loss of the school district's ability to nonrenew a poorly-
In the hustle of finalizing probationary evaluations, administrators are
tempted to short-circuit the evaluation process. Remember that probationary
employees must be evaluated based upon an “actual classroom observation.”
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Evaluate all probationary teachers-- not just those who appear to have
deficiencies. Sometimes significant problems with probationary employees
appear for the first time late in the second semester.
If you have employees who perform a combination of teaching and non-
teaching jobs, such as a librarian who teaches one study skills course, you
must evaluate during classroom time. The Commissioner of Education takes
the position that if a probationary employee teaches even one class, his or her
evaluation must be based on that instruction rather than on an overall review
of his or her performance in all duties.
Particularly during the Christmas season, you may be tempted to sugar-
coat or soften criticisms or concerns you may have about a teacher’s
performance. Using kid gloves and veiling true weaknesses with flowery and
imprecise language is EXACTLY why we school attorneys have so much work to
do each spring. Being too nice or unclear does a disservice to both the teacher
and to you and can hurt your school district in the long run.
If you have any questions about the evaluation of probationary
employees or would like us to review proposed evaluations, please don’t
hesitate to contact Karen, Steve or Bobby.