Recent court definitions of immoral conduct require that employers establish a nexus between the objectionable conduct and the individual's fitness to teach, while teacher plaintiffs have argued that dismissals for alleged immoral conduct violated various constitutional rights. This paper reviews a cross-section of recent court cases involving teacher dismissals resulting from sexual and sexually related conduct. The first category considered is homosexual conduct with nonstudents. Little consensus has developed in courts over whether private practice or public advocacy of homosexuality renders teachers unfit to teach. The second category, heterosexual conduct with nonstudents, reviews dismissal cases arising from adultery (which has generally been accepted by courts as grounds for dismissal) and illicit cohabitation or out-of-wedlock pregnancy (which have not). The third category of cases involves sexual conduct with students or minors, which courts have consistently upheld as grounds for teacher dismissal, because of its adverse effect on the teacher-student relationship. Aside from misconduct with students or other minors, however, immoral conduct must be shown to adversely affect job performance in order for courts to sustain teacher discharge. (TE)
Paper presented at a meeting of the Kentucky Council of School Attorneys (Bowling Green, KY, September 29, 1984).