Tennessee Code Title 49. Education § 49-5-601

(a) This part shall be known and may be cited as the “Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act of 2011.”

(b)(1) Local boards of education and their professional employees have an obligation to the public to exert their full and continuing efforts to achieve the highest possible education standards in the institutions that they serve.  This requires establishment and maintenance of an educational climate and working environment that will attract and retain a highly qualified professional staff and foster open, collaborative relationships between boards of education and their professional employees based upon mutual respect, in order to stimulate optimum performance by the staff and encourage each and every professional employee to contribute the employee's best to the enhancement of public schools.  In order to best achieve these ends, it is the purpose of this part to set forth and recognize the legitimate rights and obligations of boards of education and their professional employees, to establish procedures governing their respective roles and the important relationships between them, and to promote a professional climate based upon mutual interest in order to focus efforts on teaching and learning for all students of the public schools.

(2) Experience has shown that boards of education and their professional employees can best reach the objectives described in subdivision (b)(1), if each considers the ability, experience and judgment of the other in formulating policies and making decisions that involve the operations of this state’s public schools through a collaborative effort of mutual interest and mutual gain.  It also has been shown that professional employees can perform at their best when goals and expectations as to the terms and conditions of professional service are set forth with clarity, reliability and fairness to all in a manner demonstrating concern and respect for the interests of the individual employee.

(3) It is the purpose and policy of this part to recognize the interests of individual employees in their relations with boards of education and to recognize certain rights, but not obligations, of professional employees to form, join and assist professional employees' organizations, such rights and responsibilities to include meeting, consulting and conferencing with boards of education in order to discuss matters relating to specific terms and conditions of professional service.  Furthermore, in order to foster trust and mutual respect among the parties, and to provide an open and collaborative problem-solving approach to such conferencing, it is the purpose and policy of this part to recognize and adopt the principles and techniques known as interest-based collaborative problem-solving for use in conferences conducted pursuant to this part.

(c) A training program in the principles and techniques of interest-based collaborative problem-solving for use in collaborative conferencing pursuant to this part shall be developed by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents in conjunction with representative organizations of school leaders and administrators and professional employees' organizations by January 1, 2012, at which time a summary report of the training program and related materials, if any, shall be presented to the education committees of the senate and the house of representatives.  Such training program shall be implemented, as appropriate, within each local education agency no later than July 1, 2012.

(d) Any and all bargaining being conducted pursuant to the Education Professional Negotiations Act on June 1, 2011, shall be suspended indefinitely.

(e) No collaborative conferencing pursuant to this part shall be conducted by a local board of education until the training developed under this part has been implemented within the local education agency.

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