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  1. #1

    Question Non-Tenured Public School Teacher Terminated for Performance

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: new jersey. As a non-tenured first year teacher, I was not rehired because I was terminated for performance. I just had my first performance review which went OK (I was told it was good for a beginning teacher) then a letter was issued to terminate me (I found the date and detail of letter on my last day when reviewing my personnel file) and right after the letter was sent, I had an unannounced observation and they were overly critical. My next two performance reviews were critical. I know I was well liked and doing a good job so I think my termination (along with several others) was for convenience and masked as performance (ther reviews were written to justify their action). I'm persuing it legally but do I have any legal grounds as a non-tenured teacher?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Non-Tenured Public School Teacher Terminated for Performance

    You can consult the union, but from a normal standpoint, you have legal grounds to file for UI, nothing else.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Non-Tenured Public School Teacher Terminated for Performance

    I'm not seeing any. Google, at-will employment.

    Unless you were a member of a union or otherwise had a contract that guaranteed renewal, you can be terminated because it's a day ending in Y.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Non-Tenured Public School Teacher Terminated for Performance

    I'm persuing it legally but do I have any legal grounds as a non-tenured teacher? Nope. Unless there was an employment contract in place guaranteeing your continued employment for a specific period of time (i.e. through the school year), you were an employee at will and could be terminated any time for any reason, excluding a specifically prohibited reason (your race, gender, religion, etc.)

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Non-Tenured Public School Teacher Terminated for Performance

    Contact your union rep. All teachers should be part of the union not only for this but the union usually provides legal coverage if some pos parent decides to sue.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Non-Tenured Public School Teacher Terminated for Performance

    Thanks for your responses!

    Yes, I was in the union and I had a six month contract (because I started mid year), not unlike the tenured teachers that get annual renewal. The contracts we sign somehow fall under the bigger contract that all teachers have with the school district. this contract is in a little book that the unions hand out. My contract didn't call out the big contract but my Union rep had told me it is understood and my contract was typical for a non-tenured teacher. I must look closely now but I don't think even the big teaching contract calls out the teacher mnentoring and due process but it must. I'll report back.

    My big problem is that they created the bad performance reviews to substantiate their decision to term for performance (this is damaging my chances at securing employment). The school district had already decided that they were not RIFFing (Reduction In Force) any high school science or math teachers so they couldn't decide to not re-offer to me based on financial (budget reasons). It's all very scummy as they have all these procedures for training and evaluating new teachers yet I'm told that case law has it that they need not follow it. That's because the public schools are run by the state and the state wants the latitude to do whatever it wants to it's employees. And I do have a union lawyer and seems he's selling me out as he put together a very crappy petition. I believe the union works closely with the school system and only protects tenured teachers.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Non-Tenured Public School Teacher Terminated for Performance

    Any legal recourse you have will be through the union. Nothing you have posted violates any employment law.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Non-Tenured Public School Teacher Terminated for Performance

    thanks cbg - i'm thinking there isn't much employment law when it comes to non-tenured public school teachers. They can fire you for their own convenience (give the job to a friend or award the same job at lower pay) and say it was performance. And likewise they can write anything they want in my performance reviews (and make them bad just in case someone challenges the dismissal). And there is no law saying that they need to have any due process in processing a termination for performance nor do they need to follow their own procedures for new hires. I guess I could claim that there fired me out of prejudice to my age but I don't know how anyone could proove that. There's very little case law for public schooling and probably because it IS the government that is running the schools. It's a sad state of affairs when good teachers can get crapped on and get their careers damaged by public schools. And also I'm sure this plays a large part in the crappy state of our education system. Maybe Christie is right and it should all be privatized.

    I don't understand why my only legal recourse would be through my union. I didn't find any case law with Union representation and so I'm dumping my Union Lawyer.

  9. #9
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    Sep 2011
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    Default Re: Non-Tenured Public School Teacher Terminated for Performance

    I don't understand why my only legal recourse would be through my union.

    Because the only possible legal issue here would be if terminating your employment was in violation of the CBA. If it's not, then there's no legal recourse whatsoever.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Non-Tenured Public School Teacher Terminated for Performance

    hi Beth, thanks for responding. I guess I have to read the CBA again. My union Lawyer said what they did was not a good faith action and that is illegal. Almost sounds like it is illegal to lie and use trickery in administration of the school and termination of non-tenure teachers. But I have yet to find a law against that or any case law to support an argument. My Union Lawyer is not very confident. I was hoping for some jumpstart information/leads here.

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