Education has changed dramatically in the past decade. Teachers from New Jersey are starting to feel the squeeze of budgets and an aggressive stance towards unions and their jobs as a whole. Teachers were once considered the best and brightest our communities had to offer, celebrated as the ushers and mentors to a new generation. Now, sadly, public opinion has changed. Teachers are responsible for making the next generation better equipped to blossom into adults that contribute to society. We at Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, P.C. understand the tribulation of being a teacher today and respect the hard work teachers put in, day and night, to make a successful classroom. Teachers have rights that need to be protected. Unions can only do so much and sometimes a teacher must do what is needed to protect themselves from the powers that be.
Public school employees have constitutional rights not awarded to most private school employees. A public school is a public entity, meaning that they have constitutional restrictions in place to limit state actions against employees of a public school. For example, tenured teachers in a public school have the right to due process. They have the right to receive a notice of termination and a hearing to decide the validity of a case brought against them. Tenure is a status that protects teachers against arbitrary dismissal because of personal or political reasons. Tenure also protects teachers from irrational punishments, such as salary reduction and demotion. Even states that do not offer tenure have to abide by federal law. The Supreme Court case of Perry v. Sindermann of 1972 recognized a de facto tenure whereas a teacher can claim a legitimate entitlement for job tenure.
Even if a teacher believes he or she has been unfairly dismissed from a position before tenure has been granted, there are rules to protect them. There are time restrictions before a school can deny renewal of a contract and the teacher has a right to know in advance. If a school district does not follow the proper time restrictions, the teacher is automatically renewed. The teacher has a right to ask for a written explanation regarding their dismissal. The teacher has a right to have a hearing in front of the school board to try to convince them that the administration has made a mistake in his or her case. The teacher even has a right to bring an action to court to try to convince a judge that the district board acted arbitrarily and unreasonably in not ruling in his or her favor at the board hearing. Teachers have a right to be represented at those hearings. It is important that they get proper representation so they can maximize the limited right they have to stop a non-renewal.
Whether you are a new or a tenured educator in NJ, your rights must be protected. If you believe that any of your rights as a teacher have been violated, contact an experienced NJ education attorney at Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, P.C. to assist you. Call us for a consultation at our New Jersey Office Location.