STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED JUNE 6, 2011
Under current law, teachers, principals, and other teaching staff members whose positions require that they hold a certificate issued by the State Board of Examiners receive tenure after completing three years of employment in a school district. This bill provides that a person who is employed in the position of teacher, principal, assistant principal, or vice-principal on or after the bill’s effective date will receive tenure after the employee receives a rating of effective in each of three consecutive annual evaluations, with the first effective rating being received on or after the completion of the second year of employment. This means that,under the bill, a newly hired teacher, principal, assistant principal, or vice-principal could qualify for tenure after 4 or more years of employment in the district, depending on his evaluations. Also, in the case of a teacher, he must complete a mentorship program in the first year of employment. All other school district employees currently eligible for tenure will be able to obtain tenure after a three-year period of employment, as established by existing law.
- The bill provides that a teacher, principal, assistant principal, or vice-principal who is transferred or promoted must be evaluated as effective in three consecutive annual evaluations in order to qualify for tenure in the new position.
- The bill provides that any teaching staff member under tenure who accepts employment in the same position in another school district will be eligible for tenure after two years of employment in the new district and, in the case of a person employed in the position of teacher, principal, assistant principal, or vice-principal, after being evaluated as effective in two consecutive annual evaluations.
The bill empowers a school principal to make certain personnel decisions relating to instructional staff employed at his school, although the bill preserves the seniority rights of teachers, principals, assistant principals, and vice-principals who have acquired tenure prior to the bill’s effective date. Under current law, the board of education has the authority to appoint, transfer or remove employees upon the recommendation of the superintendent.
- This bill provides that, except as otherwise constrained by seniority rights that have accrued to employees who acquired tenure prior to the bill’s effective date, the principal, in consultation with school improvement panels established under the bill, will have sole authority to appoint or remove an employee in the position of teacher, assistant principal, or vice-principal.
- Any action taken by a principal to appoint or remove an employee will not be subject to approval by either the superintendent of schools or the board of education.
In order to ensure the effectiveness of its teachers,
- the bill directs each school to convene a school improvement panel. The panel will include the principal, an assistant or vice-principal, and a teacher or other member of the instructional staff nominated by the principal and approved by the instructional staff.
- The bill provides that the panel will be directly involved in the hiring of new teachers, oversee the mentoring of teachers, and conduct annual evaluations of teachers.
- Under the bill, the panel is also charged with identifying professional development opportunities for all instructional staff members.
- The panel must conduct a mid-year evaluation of any tenured teacher who is evaluated as ineffective in his most recent annual evaluation.
- Panel members are prohibited from participating in their own evaluations.
- The bill further provides that the principal, in consultation with the panel, must revoke the tenure granted to an employee in the position of teacher, assistant principal, or vice-principal if the employee is evaluated as ineffective in two consecutive annual evaluations.
- Similarly, the bill provides that the superintendent, or his designee, must revoke a principal’s tenure if the principal is evaluated as ineffective in two consecutive annual evaluations.
- Under the bill, the revocation of the tenure status of a teacher, principal, assistant principal, or vice-principal will not be subject to grievance or appeal unless the grievance or appeal relates to a charge that the principal, superintendent, or designee of the superintendent failed to adhere substantially to the approved evaluation system.
The bill provides that, in the event of a school closure, a teacher who acquires tenure on or after the effective date of the bill and whose position was eliminated due to the closure must be designated by the school district as a member of a priority hiring pool. A member of a priority hiring pool must be provided an opportunity to interview for vacant in-district teaching positions for which he is qualified before a school improvement panel may consider outside applicants. A member will continue to receive his salary and benefits in the 12 months following the school closure, or until such time as he secures another position within the district or submits his resignation. In the event that the teacher has not secured an in-district teaching position within 12 months of the school closure, the district will place the teacher on an unpaid leave of absence but will keep him in the priority hiring pool until such time as he secures employment in the district. A teacher who acquired tenure prior to the bill’s effective date and whose position was eliminated due to a school closure, or any other type of reduction in force, will retain his seniority rights pursuant to N.J.S.18A:28-10 and N.J.S.18:28-12 and will be placed on a preferred eligible list in the order of seniority for reemployment and, whenever a vacancy occurs in a position for which he is qualified, he will be reemployed.
Under the bill, each board of education must:
· adopt a policy to establish a mentoring program in which experienced teachers are paired with first-year teachers to provide confidential support and guidance in accordance with the Professional Standards for Teachers;
· adopt a policy to provide its teaching staff members with ongoing professional development and provide additional professional development for any teaching staff member who fails or is struggling to meet the performance standards established by the board for his job; and
· annually submit to the Commissioner of Education, for review and approval, the evaluation rubrics that will be used by the district to assess the effectiveness of its principals, assistant principals, vice-principals, and teachers.
This bill streamlines the process under the current tenure hearing laws by establishing timelines designed to expedite the process. The bill shortens the timeframe under which the Commissioner of Education must render a determination on the sufficiency of a tenure charge and refer the case to the Office of Administrative Law from a 25-day period to a 10-day period. The bill provides that the hearing on a tenure charge before an administrative law judge will be held within 30 days of the transmittal of the charge to the Office of Administrative Law. The bill further provides that the final determination on the charge will be made by an administrative law judge rather than the Commissioner of Education and such determination must be made within 30 days of the start of the hearing. Under current law, a determination of any controversy or dispute must be made within 60 days after the close of the hearing. The bill also provides that the State Board of Examiners may only review those tenure cases in which the administrative law judge’s findings were in support of the charges.
The bill repeals section 1 of P.L.1998, c.42 (C.52:14B-10.1), which outlines the procedure tenure cases currently follow when referred to the Office of Administrative Law
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