Governor Signs Landmark Tenure Legislation
The Governor signed tenure reform legislation, P.L.2012, c. 26 (A-3060 (Diegnan) / S-1455 (Ruiz)), August 7 that modifies tenure attainment, tenure dismissal and provides some specificity on evaluation. NJPSA was successful in getting key changes to the new law.
The New Law
The new law, P.L.2012, c.26 (A-3060 (Diegnan) / S-1455 (Ruiz)), changed significantly during the course of its legislative vetting. While the original bill would have called for the elimination of seniority, the enacted legislation did not. Also out was, “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 was pleased to see the compromise legislation does not include these items.
The reconciled legislation also extended 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 new law 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 addition, the enacted legislation 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 bill also specifies that data cannot be a predominant determiner in evaluation; something NJPSA raised continually as an issue given the limited data available to schools within the evaluation framework.
Further, the bill includes some extensions of the aggressive 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 in late June and in a statement to Legislators in light of the many changes as the bill was reconciled between the two chambers. Specifically:
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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;
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