This post refers solely to tenure of public school teachers in New Jersey. The facts presented may not apply to other positions or in other states.
How does a New Jersey teacher acquire tenure?
Tenure is established by state law, not by contract. The New Jersey Legislature has the power to modify or eliminate tenure. In the past, the Legislature has eliminated tenure for school district superintendents.
N.J.S.A. 18A:28 specifies the requirements that a teacher must meet to acquire tenure. Most teachers acquire tenure by serving in a position for 3 consecutive academic years and being rehired for a 4th year.
Under what conditions can a tenured teacher be dismissed in NJ?
N.J.S.A. 18A:6-10 and N.J.S.A. 18A:20-10 specify the conditions under which a tenured teacher may be dismissed.
A tenured teacher can be dismissed for
- unbecoming conduct,
- or other just cause.
State law details procedures that must be followed if a teacher is accused of any of the above. If a tenured teacher is accused of inefficiency, state law requires that the teacher be given an opportunity to correct the alleged inefficiency. In all cases, a tenured teacher must be formally charged and given an opportunity to present a defense. In many cases, tenure charges are resolved before an administrative law judge.
A tenured teacher can also be dismissed as part of a reduction in force. A school district that eliminates teaching positions may dismiss tenured teachers. State law requires that tenure and seniority be taken into account when determining which teachers will be dismissed, but does not prevent tenured teachers from being dismissed.
For teachers seeking additional information
I wrote this post to provide basic factual information about tenure. I am unable to provide authoritative answers to the many nuanced questions that I receive. Teachers with questions about their particular situations should speak with their association representatives, their human resources departments, or the NJ Department of Education.
According to the NJ Department of Education, “Issues of educational tenure and seniority are addressed by the Bureau of Controversies and Disputes, New Jersey Department of Education, 100 Riverview Plaza, PO BOX 500, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0500 or call 609-292-5705.”
The New Jersey Education Association may also be able to provide information at 180 W. State Street, Trenton, NJ 08607-1211 and 1-609-599-4561.
PDFs of selected New Jersey Statutes
- Title 18A, downloaded 2009-01-03 (2 MB)
- Selected portions of Title 18A related to the acquisition of tenure
- Selected portions of Title 18A related to the dismissal of tenured teachers
- New Jersey Statutes (unannotated)