The Deadline for Renewal or Nonrenewal of Staff is Approaching
Chief school administrators are reminded that May 15th is the deadline to provide nontenured staff members with written notice of whether or not they will be offered a contract of employment for the succeeding school year.1
Boards of education can only renew the employment contract of certificated and non-certificated staff members upon the recommendation of the chief school administrator.2 If the chief school administrator recommends the renewal of an employee’s contract, then that recommendation must be approved by a recorded roll call majority vote of the full membership of the board.3 While the board cannot withhold its approval of the recommendation to renew for arbitrary and capricious reasons, it is still possible that such a vote will fail to reach a majority and thus, the staff member will not be renewed.4
Whenever a chief school administrator determines not to renew the contract of a nontenured employee, the contract is deemed nonrenewed.5 If the chief school administrator has made the decision to nonrenew the employee’s contract, then s/he must notify his/her board of education of the recommendation and the reasons for the recommendation prior to notifying the affected employee.6 Thereafter, no formal board action need be taken. There are no specific regulations that address the timing of the CSA’s notice to the board and/or the manner in which the notice is given. The CSA’s notice to the teaching staff member does not need to include any reason for the decision. It merely must state that the CSA is not recommending the individual for re-employment, and that his/her employment will cease at the end of the contract term. However, a nontenured teaching staff member whose contract is not renewed has the right to request a written statement of reasons for the nonrenewal.7 The request must be made within 15 days after the staff member receives the notice of nonrenewal.8 Within 30 days of the request, the CSA must provide the teaching staff member with the written statement of reasons.9 There are no specific rules regarding the content of the CSA’s letter providing the statement of reasons for nonrenewal. It need not be an exhaustive list, but it should give the staff member notice of his/her deficiencies. However, CSAs should be careful not to provide reasons that could be misinterpreted as articulating an illegal or discriminatory motive.
The nonrenewed teaching staff member also has the right to request an informal appearance before the board which is also referred to as a Donaldson hearing.10 Only a teaching staff member who has requested and received a statement of reasons may make such a request for a hearing. The request must be made within ten calendar days of the teaching staff member’s receipt of the statement of reasons.11 The hearing must be scheduled within 30 calendar days from the date of the teaching staff member’s receipt of the statement of reasons. This appearance shall not be an adversarial proceeding, though the staff member may be represented at that hearing by counsel or a representative of the staff member’s choosing.12 The purpose of the appearance is to permit the staff member to convince the board to offer re-employment.13 It is up to each board of education to determine a reasonable length of time for the proceeding.14 While the board may vote to overturn the superintendent’s recommendation after the appearance, the board is under no obligation to take any action.15
Because of the significant role chief school administrators have relative to personnel actions, it is important not to overlook the May 15th deadline. Failure to provide notice of nonrenewal to a nontenured teaching staff member by this deadline is deemed to be an offer of continued employment by the board for the next succeeding school year.16 A staff member who is deemed to have been renewed in this manner shall be employed “upon the same terms and conditions but with such increases in salary as may be required by law or policies of the board of education.”17 However, the teaching staff member must accept re-employment on or before June 1 for his/her employment to continue.18 If the staff member fails to give written notice of acceptance of continued employment by June 1, then his/her employment will cease at the end of the contract term.
It is crucial that CSAs heed the important deadlines for nonrenewing nontenured staff members. As you are most certainly aware, inadvertent failure to follow the deadlines could result in under-performing staff members achieving tenure.
As always, when a question or concern arises regarding this procedure or the employee’s rights, it is recommended that the chief school administrator contact the board attorney for advice and counsel.
- N.J.S.A. 18A:27-10.
- See N.J.S.A. 18A:27-4.1(b).
- N.J.S.A. 18A:27-4.1(a).
- N.J.S.A. 18A:27-4.1(b).
- Id.; N.J.S.A. 18A:27-3.2.
- N.J.S.A. 18A:27-3.2.
- See, Donaldson v. Board of Educ. of the City of North Wildwood, 65 N.J. 236 (1974).
- N.J.A.C. 6A:10-9.1(a).
- N.J.A.C. 6A:10-9.1(f).
- N.J.S.A. 18A:27-4.1(b); N.J.A.C. 6A:10-9.1(c).
- N.J.A.C. 6A:10-9.1(d).
- See Velasquez v. Board of Education of the Borough of Brielle, S.B. #30-96 (April 4, 1996).
- N.J.S.A. 18A:27-11.
- N.J.S.A. 18A:27-12.