A group of teachers filed a grievance regarding a lesson plan template required by their district. The template provided teachers with a tool that included district prepared lesson plans for use by teachers. Teachers were required to submit weekly lesson plans and could choose to either copy from the district lesson plan or edit the content into the lesson plan template.

The teachers alleged that the lesson plans violated the Paperwork Reduction Act, which states that a school district must limit redundant requests for information and that lesson plans must consist of a unit or weekly plan that outlines, in a brief and general manner, the information to be presented. They argued that because they were required to cut and paste the information from the district templates on a daily basis, that they were being required to complete daily, rather than weekly, plans. The teachers asserted that this activity was redundant and constituted a requirement that they complete daily lesson plans in violation of the law. They also alleged that the lesson plans required more information than permitted by the statute because they contained specific fields that had to be filled out as opposed to a brief and general description of the lesson to be presented.

The district's board of trustees denied the grievance and the teachers appealed to the commissioner of education, who upheld the board's decision. In doing so, the commissioner determined that the lesson plans were not redundant because each teacher was required to produce only one weekly lesson plan. The fact that the lesson plan template included space for daily entries did not violate the statute because the statute allows for daily activities to be included in the lesson plan and provides that the plan should include “information to be presented during each period” at the secondary level. Since the teachers were middle school teachers, they could be required to complete lesson plans for each period of each day.

Finally, the commissioner said the lesson plan template did not violate the requirement that lesson plans be “brief and general” because the template required “no more than a few words” and required little effort for the teacher to cut and paste the field if they so chose.

It is important to note that the commissioner’s decision hinged on the finding that teachers were required to fill in no more than “a few words.”