A teacher’s contract was proposed for nonrenewal following allegations that the teacher inappropriately touched a student and inappropriately communicated with a student. The teacher requested a hearing to contest the proposed nonrenewal of the contract.

At the time of the hearing on the proposed nonrenewal of the teacher’s contract, the student could not be located by the school district or the police. The district offered a video into evidence that showed the student being interviewed by a police officer. The teacher objected to the video because it was hearsay. Hearsay is a statement that is made by someone when they are not at trial or at a hearing that is introduced during the hearing or trial to prove the truth of what is being said. In this case, the teacher argued that the student’s statements were hearsay because they were made while making the video, as opposed to during the hearing, and because the statements were being used in attempt to prove that the teacher inappropriately touched the student as alleged in the video. The hearsay objection was overruled and the video was admitted. The board voted to nonrenew the teacher’s contract and the teacher appealed to the commissioner of education.

The commissioner of education upheld the nonrenewal of the teacher’s contract. Although the video was hearsay, there was other evidence presented at the hearing to support the allegations (for example, the testimony of the police officer). Additionally, a nonrenewal hearing is not the same thing as a trial; therefore, under some circumstances a different standard applies to determine what can be considered as evidence. Even though the video was hearsay, it could be used in the nonrenewal hearing because the student had disappeared and because the video showed the student being questioned by a trained police officer, which is the kind of information that a reasonably prudent person would rely on in making a decision about whether the teacher should be trusted with children.