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Bd. of Regents v. Roth

Supreme Court of the United States

January 18, 1972, Argued ; June 29, 1972, Decided

No. 71-162


 [*566]   [***554]   [**2703]  MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.

In 1968 the respondent, David Roth, was hired for his first teaching job as assistant professor of political science at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh. He was hired for a fixed term of one academic year. The notice of his faculty appointment specified that his employment would begin on September 1, 1968, and would end on June 30, 1969. 1 The respondent completed that term. But he was informed that he would not be rehired for the next academic year.

 [****5]  The respondent had no tenure rights to continued employment. Under Wisconsin statutory law a state university teacher can acquire  [***555]  tenure as a "permanent" employee only after four years of year-to-year employment. Having acquired tenure, a teacher is entitled to continued employment "during efficiency and good behavior." A relatively new teacher without tenure, however, is under Wisconsin law entitled to nothing  [**2704]  beyond his one-year appointment. 2 There are no statutory  [*567]  or administrative standards defining eligibility for re-employment. State law thus clearly leaves the decision whether to rehire a nontenured teacher for another year to the unfettered discretion of university officials.

 [****6]  The procedural protection afforded a Wisconsin State University teacher before he is separated from the University corresponds to his job security. As a matter of statutory law, a tenured teacher cannot be "discharged except for cause upon written charges" and pursuant to certain procedures. 3 [****7]  A nontenured teacher, similarly, is protected to some extent during his one-year term. Rules promulgated by the Board of Regents provide that a nontenured teacher "dismissed" before the end of the year may have some opportunity for review of the "dismissal." But the Rules provide no real protection for a nontenured teacher who simply is not re-employed for the next year. He must be informed by February 1 "concerning retention or nonretention for the ensuing year." But "no reason for non-retention need be given. No review or appeal is provided in such case." 4

 [****8]   [*568]  In conformance with these Rules, the President of Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh informed the respondent before February 1, 1969, that he would not be rehired for the 1969-1970 academic year. He gave the respondent no reason for the decision and no opportunity to challenge it at any sort of hearing.

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408 U.S. 564 *; 92 S. Ct. 2701 **; 33 L. Ed. 2d 548 ***; 1972 U.S. LEXIS 131 ****; 1 I.E.R. Cas. (BNA) 23



Disposition:  446 F.2d 806, reversed and remanded.


teacher, rehire, procedural due process, reasons, notice, rights, statement of reasons, non-retention, due process, tenure, district court, deprivation, appointment, nonrenewal, faculty, renewed, re-employment, constitutional right, public employment, summary judgment, nontenured, terms, protected interest, academic year, eligibility, discharged, benefits, procedural safeguards, continued employment, property interest

Education Law, Departments of Education, State Departments of Education, Authority of Departments of Education, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Substantive Due Process, Privacy, General Overview