New York Teachers’ Rights Attorneys Answer Questions About Tenure and Due Process

New York teachers’ rights attorneys at Leeds Brown understand the challenges that face many of today’s new and experienced educators. During the last decade, with education reform sweeping the nation, there have been controversial changes to curriculum, standardized testing policies, and spending. Education reform has also resulted in important revisions to teacher evaluation systems and has sparked heated debates about tenure and other education laws.

With all of the changes in education and challenges facing teachers, tenure remains intact as a valuable right that most educators seek to obtain as early as possible during their careers. As New York teachers’ rights attorneys, we often find that clients come to us with questions about tenure and the protections it provides. Some of the most frequently asked questions and answers are below.

If you are a teacher and believe that someone has violated your tenure rights, contractual rights, or has discriminated against you, please contact New York teachers’ rights attorneys at Leeds Brown today at 1-800-585-4658. Our experienced tenure attorneys have been obtaining successful results for clients for decades. Our hands-on, collaborative approach allows us to provide professional and passionate advocacy to teachers and work toward obtaining the best resolution to which you are entitled.

What is tenure?

In its most general terms, tenure is a guaranteed right to a job that someone earns by proving his or her skills over a period of time. Once an individual achieves, earns or is granted tenure, firing or disciplining them requires a finding of just cause in a due process hearing.

In the realm of education, tenure is given or granted to teachers who “prove themselves” for the requisite number of years. Before earning tenure, during what is called a probationary period, a teacher’s rights are strictly contractual.

Unlike the general “at-will” workforce, an employer may not terminate a tenured teacher for no reason or a silly reason. There must be just cause. Tenure provides teachers with a constitutional right to their employment of which they cannot be deprived without due process. It can, therefore, be very difficult to fire teachers who have tenure.

How long does it take to achieve tenure?

The length of time it takes to be eligible for tenure varies. It depends on the state education department, the school district, the level of education and even the individual school. A few states do not have tenure at all. But in most states, a public school teacher is eligible for tenure after successful completion of a three to five-year probationary period.

It is more difficult to earn tenure in higher education and often takes longer, up to seven years.

Why is New York teacher tenure controversial?

There are opponents of tenure who claim that the just cause and due process requirements make it nearly impossible to remove ineffective tenured educators. Those in support of tenure believe that job security allows teachers to do a better job and that it is important for educators not to worry about being fired for their personal or political beliefs or other unjustified reasons.

What is “just cause?”

The school board of education must have proof of just cause to terminate the employment of a tenured teacher. Just cause usually involves evidence of physical or mental incapacity, lack of certification, misconduct or professional incompetence. The school district must provide proof of a legitimate reason for the discipline or termination. Just cause in New York includes the following:

  • Insubordination, immoral character or conduct unbecoming a teacher
  • Inefficiency, incompetence, physical or mental disability, or neglect of duty
  • Failure to maintain certification as required by statute and by regulations of the commissioner

What is “due process” and how is it related to tenure?

Tenure shields teachers from arbitrary termination and punishment and creates a legally protected right to employment under contract. That right cannot be taken away without due process. New York teachers’ rights attorneys know exactly what due process requires.

A school board may only fire or discipline a tenured teacher after a presenting proper evidence of just cause at a hearing. A hearing, proper notice, sufficient proof of cause, the right to present a case and confront witnesses are essential parts of the fundamental due process rights that tenure provides.

What remedies exist if my employer violates my tenure rights?

If you are terminated or disciplined in violation of your rights, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your district school board of education. The specific causes of action available will depend on the circumstances of your case. You might have a wrongful termination claim if your employer failed to abide by tenure and due process laws. If you did not receive proper notice of a hearing or the board did not provide adequate proof of just cause, you may be entitled to receive reinstatement or monetary damages.

You may also have a discrimination claim if “just cause” was a disguise to fire you for an illegal reason. For example, if after 40 years of teaching with outstanding evaluations, you suddenly get two years of ineffective ratings with no supporting evidence, and are fired, you may be a victim of age discrimination. If you and two other teachers are brought up on false charges of insubordination and you are the only teachers of color in the building, you may be a victim of race discrimination.

Contact Us

New York teachers’ rights attorneys at Leeds Brown can help you determine the best way to proceed if you think your rights have been violated. Our lawyers are passionate about protecting the well-deserved tenure rights of our educators. Leeds Brown attorneys work hard to ensure that teachers enforce their constitutional and contractual rights and hold school districts accountable when their actions are suspect.

Make sure you are represented by attorneys who care. Contact New York teacher tenure attorneys at Leeds Brown to discuss your matter. Whether you have a disciplinary hearing, are being pressured to retire, were wrongfully terminated or discriminated against, Leeds Brown is the firm to call. Put our experience to work for you today by calling 1-800-585-4658.

We have someone here twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week to take your call. You worked hard to obtain tenure. Protect your rights and call New York teacher tenure attorneys at Leeds Brown.

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