By Leslie Brody. Staff Writer.

Shortly after the Assembly education committee passed a tenure bill Thursday afternoon, the senator pushing another tenure bill announced compromises that make hers much more of a match.

Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, said her new bill deletes provisions to weaken the role of seniority in protecting teachers’ jobs during layoffs due to budget cuts. She had previously pushed for an end to the seniority system known as last-in-first-out but said she had to give that up to get tenure reform passed.

Her bill requires a mentorship year, and then two good evaluations for a teacher to get the job protections of tenure after a fourth year on the job. It also says tenure cases should be heard by arbitrators rather than administrative judges – a change pushed by the teachers’ unions.

In the Assembly, the education committee chair, Patrick Diegnan Jr., D-Middlesex, drafted this bill, which has been backed by the powerful New Jersey Education Association. This bill calls for binding arbitration for contested cases, a process the union has said will make it cheaper and faster to revoke tenure from ineffective or abusive teachers.

Diegnan’s bill also lengthens the time before educators earn tenure to four years, from the current three. The assemblyman and NJEA have stressed the need to preserve the due process rights of tenure so that teachers are protected from political interference.


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