Tenure Legislation Approved June 25
The full Senate and Assembly are expected to approve tenure reform legislation, A-3060 (Diegnan) / S-1455 (Ruiz), June 25 that seeks to modify tenure attainment, tenure dismissal and provide some specificity on evaluation. NJPSA was sucessful in getting key changes to the proposal. The Governor is expected to sign the bill.
The legislation has changed significantly since its initial introduction. While the original bill would have called for the elimination of seniority, the version that is expected to pass today, does not. Also out is so called, “mutual consent” which required both a teacher and principal agree to a placement in a school and would retain teachers for up to one year on the roles if he/she dd not agree to a placement. NJPSA had advocated throughout the legislative process to have these two provisions removed and is pleased to see the compromise legislation does not include these items.
The reconciled legslaton also extends the time to tenure attainment for all tenure eligible employees by a year, with new teachers required to participate in district-based mentorship program. Current licensure regulation would continue to apply for new school leaders (i.e. the current residency/mentorship program authorized by N.J.A.C. 6A: 9-12). The legislation also requires school leaders and teachers receive two (2) effectve or highly effectve ratngs during the four (4) year period to be eligible for tenure. NJPSA supports these changes and was happy to see the sponsors recognized the value and efficacy of the current principal mentorship program.
In addton, the final bill includes some significant changes around evaluation, based upon last minute negotiation between the two chambers. NJPSA successfully pushed for language that permitted only in district certified supervisors conduct evaluation.
The final bll also specifies that data cannot be a prerdominant determiner in evaluation; something NJPSA raised continually as an issue given the limited data available to schools withn the evaluaton framework.
Further, the bill includes some extensions of the agressive timelines as to tenure dismissal, as well as language that allows for relaxation of the timeframes upon a showing of "exceptional circumstance" to the commissioner. NJPSA is happy to see these changes and look forward to regulation surrounding implementation of this portion of the Act.
NJPSA supported the legislation in Committee June 22 and in a statement to Legislators today in light of the many changes as the bill was reconciled between the two chambers. Specifically:
Quality evaluation standards and safeguards were incorporated into the legislation, many at NJPSA's urging;
The use of only certifed supervisors in evaluation - effectively stunting any attempt to blur the line between supervision and employment;
NJPSA's authority to choose 5 arbitrators for the 24 arbitration panel; and
Key changes with regard to due process limitations that NJPSA raised including an expansion of timelines and the addition of some language with permits time frames and additional evidence be permitted in light of "exceptional circumstances" upon a showing to the Commissioner;
While NJPSA had core concerns with the Act, not all of which were satisfied completely, we will continue to work to represent your interests as this legislation is further developed through regulation and implementation in our schools.
NJPSA thanks the bill sponsors, Senator Ruiz (D-Essex) and Assemblyman Diegnan (D-Middlesex) for their tireless work on this important subject - including the "open door" policy both had toward concerns that NJPSA raised.
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