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New York’s new $142 million budget contains language that would make it harder for public-school teachers to obtain tenure, which prohibits the firing of a tenured teacher without cause, according to a recent news report. Instead of the current three-year probationary period before becoming eligible for tenure safeguards, beginning July 1 new teachers will face a four-year probationary period. Once a teacher is eligible for tenure under this new structure, the decision to grant tenure will be mostly based on the teacher’s annual evaluation scores. Additionally, the provisions make the firing of tenured teachers easier as those rated “ineffective” three years in a row would face the chopping block.

This is not the first time teacher tenure has ignited debate. In fact, a state judge struck down California’s teacher protections in 2014 and a similar lawsuit was filed in New York that same year. Now, under Cuomo’s new state budget, for the first time teacher tenure will be tied to employee evaluation. The changes makes New York the 12th state in the nation to grant tenure to teachers after four or more years.

Teacher Tenure 3020a Hearings

Public-school teachers in New York accused of misconduct or incompetence are subject to dismissal after a formal hearing, known as 3020a. Formal charges are filed against an educator and subsequently the secretary or clerk of the school district’s employment board is required to notify the board members of the allegations. Should probable cause be found to exist by a majority vote, disciplinary action is pursued against the accused. The decision whether or not to proceed with disciplinary action must be made within five days of receipt of the charges.

If disciplinary action is taken, a statement, in writing, must be sent to the accused teacher indicating (1) the exact nature of the charges; (2) the maximum penalty imposed if the teacher declines to request a hearing or, alternatively, found guilty after a formal hearing is held; and (3) a thorough explanation of the accused’s rights sent by certified mail or registered mail with return receipt. A teacher has 10 days from receipt of the statement of charges to notify – in writing – the secretary or clerk of the employment board whether or not a 3020a hearing is requested. Failure to respond will result in an automatic waiver of the right to a hearing. If a hearing is waived by a teacher (whether intentionally or not), the board must make a majority vote decision on the matter within 15 days of the waiver.

Lawyers Specializing in Education Law

Education law can be complicated, as specific procedural deadlines and formalities must be met to avoid waiving rights. If you or someone you know is a public-school teacher that has been notified of charges, contact lawyers specializing in education law immediately to preserve your rights. The legal professionals at  Ricotta & Marks, P.C. are committed to defending the rights of New York teachers. Contact or call our Queens or Long Island office at (347)-464-8694 today.

Ricotta Marks

Ricotta & Marks, P.C.

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