A New Jersey teacher was caught on camera mocking and threatening violence toward a 15-year-old special needs student. But the teacher is unlikely to lose his job due to rules and regulations that make it very difficult — and expensive — to terminate someone.
Difficult as in a 15-step process that could take between two and five years to complete. Expensive as in from $300,000 to $500,000.
The Education Action Group recently reported:
It only takes three years in New Jersey to become a tenured teacher. The Garden State’s teacher tenure laws are so deeply flawed that 77 percent of state residents support tenure reform. Gov. Chris Christie, as well as legislative Democrats and Republicans, have offered reform plans.
The current process begins by formally bringing tenure charges against a teacher. Then the real work begins.
After months of gathering evidence, the investigator shares his findings with the district superintendent and the state commissioner of education. If both officials certify the charges, the case is sent to the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law and a trial is scheduled.
The trial itself can last up to four years. The accused teacher doesn’t mind, because after 120 calendar days, he or she collects full pay for the remainder of the process. School districts not only have to pay that salary, but must hire substitutes to fill in for the suspended teacher and pay lawyers to pursue the termination case.
During the trial, witnesses are called to testify and a judge typically asks the attorneys to file legal briefs. All of that can take 30 to 90 days. Then the judge will make a decision in the case, which typically takes another three or four months.
The state commissioner of education then reviews the judge’s decision and issues a final decision. That often takes another two or three months.
But in many cases, those days, weeks and months can stretch into years. Judges typically hear these cases on days they have available – perhaps one day one week, then two days a few weeks later.
When the entire process is finally complete and the teacher is found guilty, he or she has the option of appealing the decision, if another court will agree to hear it.