Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tenure talk

So, what’s all this talk about the Board of Education awarding tenure or not awarding tenure? If I may, I’d like to explain a little bit how the process works. This is not a comprehensive guide...just a little of what I’ve learned and what I’d like to share in light of some of the recent conversations and public comments.

Tenure is a state law. The timing of tenure – when staff receive it – is part of the law. The schedule is set – it is not negotiable, it cannot be delayed nor can it be speeded up or awarded early.

When a staff member is employed for three years, if they are renewed for the fourth year, then they automatically receive tenure. There is no decision to award or not award tenure – there is only the decision to renew the employee for the fourth year. If they are renewed: tenure.

If a teacher achieves tenure, and then later is promoted to an administrative position, then the timing for the awarding of tenure for the new position is after two years in that position.

The decision to renew a staff member is made by the Superintendent, following a process of annual reviews and observations made by the Superintendent, the principal and other staff (for example department supervisor). The Superintendent recommends which staff to renew, and the Board of Ed votes on the recommendation. There is never a vote to approve or award tenure per se (although obviously that renewal vote at the three-year mark is a de facto tenure approval).

Where does public or parent input come in to the process?
The hope and assumption is that parents will give input to the principal or Superintendent at any and all times, throughout a teacher or administrator’s service. If you’re happy with a teacher’s performance, please call or write, so the information can be noted and referred to as the staff person is evaluated. If you’re not happy with a teacher’s or administrator’s performance, please speak up to the Superintendent or principal. Why wait? Your input and opinions are welcome, and following the chain of command is the way to get results. If you do not receive satisfaction after following the chain, then the issue may come before the Board. The Board must not discuss the issue prior, in order to remain neutral should the issue come before us.

What does not happen, by law, is any sort of public hearing where parents can specifically weigh-in on whether a staff person should be re-hired or renewed.

Another important fact: the Board legally can't discuss staff members' performance in any way that would identify the employee, for example by name or as for example "the Spanish teacher at __ School," unless the employee has been notified in advance, has been given the option to have the meeting in public, and has agreed.

Anyway, just wanted to clarify some of the tenure talk. At last Monday's meeting, there was a list of staff which the Board approved for renewal for 09-10. I believe that list is included as part of the agenda.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this clear explanation. Did not ever understand tenure. I think it was probably a good idea when it was invented but now it is a problem. I did not realize it was even a state law.

Thanks for explaining -- wish you could have done it at the BOE meeting so all those parents could have saved their breathe.

Anonymous said...

It makes no sense at all to me that secretaries from the Ed Center that no one wants to work with will be moving to schools like BF and the high school. I understand that they have tenure but there must be a way to get rid of them!