Tenure is one of the most important protections for teachers in New Jersey employment law. Both full-time and part-time teachers may receive tenure protection. However, no New Jersey court has addressed the situation where a part-time tenured teacher’s earnings were reduced when her hours were cut, even though her hourly rate of pay was slightly increased. However, in the recent case of Zimmerman v. Sussex County Educational Services Commission, the New Jersey Supreme Court addressed this issue head on.
Background: General Principles About Tenure for New Jersey Teachers
One of the bedrock principles of New Jersey public education employment law is tenure protection. Tenure of teaching staff members employed in the positions of teacher, principal, assistant principal, vice-principal, assistant superintendent, athletic trainer, school nurse and other positions in public schools requiring certification is generally governed by Title 18A of New Jersey Statutes. It was designed to protect competent and qualified teaching staff member from being subject to removal, discipline or “reduction in compensation” for “unfounded, flimsy or political reasons.” Tenure is a statutory right, not contractual. It cannot be waived, forfeited or bargained away. When a teacher satisfies the statutory requirements, she receives tenure protection.