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Articles Tagged with “New Jersey tenure”

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Attaining tenure is a milestone for public school employees.  Under New Jersey employment law, tenure carries legal protections against termination or discipline without just cause, and requires formal tenure charges and the right to challenge those charges through a hearing and appeal process.  Thesebully-3233568__340-300x272 protections are extremely valuable.

Much literature has been written about tenure requirements for teachers under New Jersey employment law.  However, New Jersey employment law also provides that other public school employees may obtain tenure protection as well.  The Appellate Division addressed the acquisition of tenure for school board secretaries and administrative assistants in the case of Saylor v. Board of Education of the Town of West New York.

Background

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Thumbnail image for tenure.jpgOn August 6, 2012, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act, which had been passed by both houses of the New Jersey Legislature. The TEACHNJ Act significantly changes how New Jersey teachers and other New Jersey public school “teaching staff members” acquire tenure.

A “teaching staff member” who obtains tenure can only be dismissed or have their compensation reduced “during good behavior” for “inefficiency, incapacity, or conduct unbecoming [ ] such a teaching staff member or other just cause.” It also provides procedural safeguards before they can be fired. (However, tenure does not prevent the school district or board of education from instituting layoffs – including laying off tenured teaching staff members – for reasons of economy or reduced enrollment, provided seniority rules are followed.)

“Teaching staff members” who may receive tenure include New Jersey public school teachers, of course, but also include these positions:

principal, other than administrative principal, assistant principal, vice-principal, assistant superintendent, and all school nurses, including school nurse supervisors, head school nurses, chief school nurses, school nurse coordinators, and any other nurse performing school nursing services, school athletic trainer and such other employees as are in positions which require them to hold appropriate certificates issued by the board of examiners, serving in any school district or under any board of education, excepting those who are not the holders of proper certificates in full force and effect, and school business administrators shared by two or more school districts.

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for tenure male.jpgNew Jersey recently enacted the Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act. The TEACHNJ Act significantly changes the rules for the acquisition of tenure by New Jersey teachers and other New Jersey public school “teaching staff members.” The TEACHNJ Act changes the time period of service prior to acquiring tenure, sets up uniform evaluation requirements as a prerequisite to obtaining tenure, and drastically changes the process for challenging discipline against tenured teaching staff members.

Tenure for a “teaching staff member” means she can only be dismissed or reduced in compensation “during good behavior” for “inefficiency, incapacity, or conduct unbecoming such a teaching staff member or other just cause,” although tenured teaching staff members can still be laid off for economic reasons or declining enrollment provided that seniority is honored. It also provides tenured teaching staff members with procedural safeguards before they can have their compensation reduced or be fired.

Teaching staff members” for tenure purposes include:

  • Teachers
  • Principals, other than administrative principal
  • Assistant principals
  • Vice-principals
  • Assistant superintendents
  • All school nurses, including school nurse supervisors, head school nurses, chief school nurses, school nurse coordinators, and any other nurse performing school nursing services
  • School athletic trainers
  • Such other employees as are in positions which require them to hold appropriate certificates
  • School business administrators shared by two or more school districts.

Schools are required to establish a school improvement panel and mentorship program for new teachers during their first year which the teacher must complete. The panel oversees the mentorship program. It must be “research-based” and enhance teacher knowledge and strategies in the core curriculum. It must pair first year teachers with effective, experienced teachers. The board must provide teaching staff members with ongoing professional development opportunities.
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