For Immediate Release:
January 22, 2018
PEJ REPORT DETAILS HOW OUTDATED TENURE LAWS PUT CHILDREN AT RISK
New York, NY – A stunning analysis of teacher disciplinary proceedings reveals how existing tenure laws make it nearly impossible to fire tenured teachers in New York even after they are found guilty of fireable offenses. A review of 212 settlement agreements and 773 tenure misconduct hearing opinions over a span of six years details how ineffective and harmful teachers are able to game the system to keep their jobs. The analysis confirms that tenured teachers in New York State have essentially landed a “job for life,” no matter how apathetic or abusive they become.
In one instance, the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) attempted to fire a tenured teacher for sexual misconduct, among other serious charges. Even though an arbitrator substantiated the charges and found that the teacher showed no remorse, he was given only a 45-day suspension, not required to attend any rehabilitative training, and was back on the DOE payroll within a year, earning $81,230.
“While the tenure system was originally designed to protect high-quality teachers, New York’s outdated tenure laws also allow harmful and ineffective teachers to slip through the cracks and make their way back into classrooms, putting children at risk,” said Alissa Bernstein, Executive Director of Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ). “As alarming as this report is, it’s still just the tip of the iceberg. We won’t have full transparency on these issues until Wright v. NY is allowed to move forward and we pull back the curtain once and for all. Shining a bright light on the broken tenure system will finally drive action towards delivering the quality education all children deserve.”
The full report is available at Cracks in the System: How New York’s Tenure Laws are Protecting the Jobs of Ineffective Teachers at the Expense of Students.
Key Findings include:
- Essentially all educators who complete a termination hearing are found guilty of at least one fireable offense.
- Sixty percent of educators found guilty of a fireable offense after a hearing receive a penalty other than termination.
- On average, it takes more than a year to resolve tenured teacher misconduct charges through a dismissal hearing.
- For at least two decades, the tenured teacher dismissal hearing process has returned most teachers who have committed a fireable offense back to public schools.
- Publicly accessible information reported in settlement agreements does not provide full transparency on the issues at hand.
“When teachers who committed fireable offenses are allowed to remain in the classroom, it is clear that the system is working against our children. I am sick and tired of watching my kids fall further and further behind. If teachers aren’t doing the job, then they shouldn’t have a job,” said Arlene Rosado, public school parent from the Bronx.
“The hardest part of my day is dropping my daughter off at school because I don’t feel she is safe while she is there. It’s a struggle to explain to my 5-year old how she needs to avoid a certain man at her school. A system that places an adult’s job security over the safety of children is in need of fundamental and immediate reform,” said Jane Obadiu, a public school parent from Queens.
About Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ)
PEJ pursues educational equity through legal action that empowers families and communities to improve the quality of public schools. PEJ utilizes a variety of legal actions to achieve its mission, including pursuing impact litigation, amicus brief filings, Freedom of Information Act requests, and other law-related avenues that seek to achieve meaningful reforms of education laws or policies that fail to prioritize students’ rights. PEJ is an affiliate of the national education nonprofit 50CAN: 50 State Campaign for Achievement Now, which advocates at the local level for a high-quality education for all kids, regardless of their address.