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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Amendments to the Education Law included in the Governor's Budget Bill


Amendments to the Education Law included in the Governor's Budget Bill
2015 Article VII "Language Bills"*

The Governor’s Budget incorporates Senate 2010 [Same as Assembly 3010] which provides for certain changes to §3020-a of the Education Law and other provisions of the Education Law including sections addressing probation and tenure. Below are summaries of selected amendments to the Education Law set out in the bill:

1. Any alternate disciplinary procedures contained in a collective bargaining agreement that becomes effective on or after April 1, 2015 shall provide that all hearings shall be conducted before a single hearing officer and that such a pattern of ineffective teaching or performance shall constitute prima facie evidence of incompetence that can only be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence that the calculation of one or more of the teacher's or principal's underlying composite ratings on the annual professional performance reviews pursuant to §3012-c of the Education Law was fraudulent, and if not successfully rebutted, the finding, absent extraordinary circumstances, shall be just cause for removal.

2. An employee shall be suspended without pay if the employee is charged with misconduct constituting physical or sexual abuse of a student and is suspended pending an expedited hearing, provided that such an employee shall be eligible to receive reimbursement for withheld pay if the hearing officer finds in his or her favor.

3. All hearings commenced by the filing of charges on or after April 1, 2015 shall be heard by a single hearing officer.

4. Full and fair disclosure of the nature of the case and evidence against the employee by the employing board shall be public unless designated to be private at the discretion of the employee.

5. Full and fair disclosure of the witnesses and evidence shall be made by both parties in the manner prescribed in Articles 3 and 4 of the State Administrative Procedure Act.

6. Children shall be permitted to testify through sworn written or video statements.

7. A pattern of ineffective teaching or performance as defined in §30121-c of the Education Law shall constitute prima facie evidence of incompetence that can only be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence that the calculation of one or more of the teacher's or principal's underlying composite ratings on the annual professional performance reviews pursuant to §30121-c was fraudulent, and if not successfully rebutted, the finding, absent extraordinary circumstances, shall be just cause for removal. Nothing in this shall be construed to otherwise limit the defenses which the employee may place before the hearing officer in challenging the allegation of a pattern of ineffective teaching or performance, except that failure of the employing board to rehabilitate the teacher or principal and correct his or her deficiencies shall not be a defense.

8. Where charges of misconduct constituting physical or sexual abuse of a student are brought, the hearing shall be conducted before and by a single hearing officer in an expedited hearing, which shall commence within seven days after the pre-hearing conference and shall be completed within sixty days after the pre-hearing conference. The hearing officer shall establish a hearing schedule at the pre-hearing conference to ensure that the expedited hearing is completed within the required timeframes and to ensure an equitable distribution of days between the employing board and the charged employee. Notwithstanding any other law, rule or regulation to the contrary, no adjournments may be granted that would extend the hearing beyond such sixty days, except as authorized in the Education Law. A hearing officer, upon request, may grant a limited and time specific adjournment that would extend the hearing beyond such sixty days if the hearing officer determines that the delay is attributable to a circumstance or occurrence substantially beyond the control of the requesting party and an injustice would result if the adjournment were not granted.

9. The hearing officer shall adopt the penalty recommended by the employing board except where the hearing officer concludes that the board acted in bad faith or there are extraordinary circumstances in which the recommended penalty would be so disproportionate to the offenses proven as to be shocking to the conscience of the hearing officer.

10. Teachers and all other members of the teaching staff appointed on or after July 1, 2015 shall be appointed by the board of education, upon the recommendation of the superintendent of schools, for a probationary period of five years, except that in the case of a teacher who has rendered satisfactory service as a regular substitute for a period of two years or as a seasonally licensed per session teacher of swimming in day schools who has served in that capacity for a period of two years and has been appointed to teach the same subject in day schools on an annual salary, the teacher shall be appointed for a probationary period of three years; provided, however, that in the case of a teacher who has been appointed on tenure in another school district within the state, the school district where currently employed, or a board of cooperative educational services, and who was not dismissed from such district or board as a result of charges brought pursuant to Education Law §3020-a.1 the teacher shall be appointed for a probationary period of four years. The service of a person appointed to any of such positions may be discontinued at any time during such probationary period, on the recommendation of the superintendent of schools, by a majority vote of the board of education. Each person who is not to be recommended for appointment on tenure shall be so notified by the superintendent of schools in writing not later than sixty days immediately preceding the expiration of his or her probationary period.

11. Administrators, directors, supervisors, principals and all other members of the supervising staff, except associate, assistant and other superintendents, appointed on or after July 1, 2015 shall be appointed by the board of education, upon the recommendation of the superintendent of schools for a probationary period of five years. The service of a person appointed to any of such positions may be discontinued at any time during the probationary period on the recommendation of the superintendent of schools, by a majority vote of the board of education.

12. If no affirmative action is taken by the board of education to terminate a classroom teacher or building principal, or to approve or deny tenure to a classroom teacher or building principal at the expiration of the probationary period, the classroom teacher or building principal shall remain in probationary status until the end of the school year in which such teacher or principal has received such ratings of effective or highly effective for the five preceding school years, during which time a board of education shall either discontinue the services of such person, deny tenure or approve tenure for those classroom teachers or building principals who otherwise have been found competent, efficient and satisfactory.

13. The board of education may grant tenure contingent upon a classroom teacher's or building principal's receipt of a rating of effective or highly effective in the fifth year, and if such contingency is not met, the grant of tenure shall be void and unenforceable and the teacher's or principal's probationary period shall be extended.

14. Failure to maintain certification as required by this chapter and the regulations of the commissioner of education shall constitute cause for removal.

*  Other "Language Bills"

Public Protection and General Government [S2005-B]
Education, Labor and Family Assistance [S2006-B]
Health and Mental Hygiene [S2006-B]
Transportation, Economic Development and Envioronmental Con. [S2008-B]
Revenue [S2009-B]
Criminal Justice Reform [S2011]
Limit Immunity from Prosecution [S2012]

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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