Guide to Earning Tenure as a Teacher or Administrator in NJ's Schools

When working in an education career, one of the many benefits is the option of tenure. For many people, this provides stability and job security. This is a great benefit to take into consideration when pursuing a career in education.

What is tenure?

Public school employers are prohibited from dismissing or reducing the pay of good-behaving employees under the tenure policy. Tenured employees are protected by extensive procedural protections before they can be dismissed.

How can someone lose tenure?

Tenure does not guarantee that an employee will not be fired despite their legal protection. A tenured employee can be terminated for a variety of reasons, including incapacity, inefficiency, and unfitness for the job.

How does someone obtain tenure?

Historically, tenure was granted every three years. All teachers who are hired after the academic year 2012-2013 will follow the new four-year standard. In accordance with the TEACHNJ Act, New Jersey teachers can meet the requirement of four years in three ways:

●      The educator has taught for at least four years in a row.

●      The educator has taught for four academic years and is beginning the new year, so it would be four years plus one day.

●      During any five consecutive academic years, their tenure totals at least four academic years (Teachers who take maternity leave are not required to restart their tenure clock).

Requirements for mentorship and evaluation

New teachers must be paired with experienced, effective, and established teachers to ensure they are provided with professional development opportunities. To provide first-year teachers with strategies to enhance their knowledge and improve their skills, the TEACHNJ Act mandates establishing "research-based" mentorship programs. In order to be eligible for tenure, teachers are required to receive "effective" or "highly effective" ratings in at least two of the first three annual evaluations after the first mentoring year.

Mentorship programs are unavailable to principals, assistant principals, or vice principals. Moreover, their third and fourth years of service must be rated "highly effective" or "effective." Professional development must be provided to struggling teachers by the employer. As part of the process, a "corrective action plan" must also be developed by the struggling teaching staff member and her supervisor after receiving a rating of partially effective or ineffective. The tenure charges are triggered if two consecutive "ineffective" or "partially effective" evaluations are acquired by a teacher, assistant principal, vice-principal, or principal.

Tenure Charges

Tenure charges must meet the statutory criteria to be justified by the employer. The arbitration process must be conducted within 45 days. At this time, limited discovery is permitted between the board and the teaching staff member. The teaching staff then presents evidence to the board.

Inefficiencies are reviewed by the arbitrator only if:

  1. The educator's evaluations followed a corrective action plan and evaluation process;
  2. The evaluation contained a factual error;
  3. An illegal act or conduct was connected to the complaints, such as political affiliation, discrimination, or another prohibited act;
  4. It was unjust for the employer to bring the charges.

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