Teacher Tenure - Reduction in Force Provisions


Teacher Tenure - Reduction in Force Provisions

May 2014


Reduction in force provisions
Alabama Based on “objective criteria.”

Local boards are required to adopt a written reduction-in-force policy that includes, but is not limited to, layoffs, recalls, and notifications of layoffs and recalls. The reduction-in-force policy of the board must be based on objective criteria.
Alaska Based primarily on tenure status.

A school district may implement a layoff plan if it is necessary to reduce the number of tenured teachers because school attendance has decreased or the basic need of the district decreases by three percent or more from the previous year. Before a district lays off any tenured teacher, the school board must adopt a layoff plan that identifies academic and other programs that the district intends to maintain in implementing the layoff plan. The plan must also include procedures for layoff and recall of tenured teachers. A district may place a tenured teacher on layoff status only after the district has given notice of nonretention to all nontenured teachers. However, a district may retain a nontenured teacher and layoff a tenured teacher if there is no tenured teacher in the district who is qualified to replace the nontenured teacher.
Arizona Use of tenure status or seniority as a primary factor is prohibited.

Arkansas Based on “objective criteria.”

School districts are required to have a written policy on reduction in force based upon objective criteria for a layoff and recall of employees.
California Based primarily on seniority.

A school district governing board many terminate the services of certificated employees if: (1) the average daily attendance of all of the schools in the district declines below the corresponding period of either of the previous two school years; (2) the governing board determines that attendance in a district will decline in the following year as a result of the termination of an interdistrict tuition agreement; (3) a particular kind of service is to be reduced or discontinued not later than the beginning of the following school year; or (4) the amendment of state law requires the modification of curriculum; and (5) when in the opinion of the board it has become necessary by reason of any of these conditions to decrease the number of permanent employees in the district. The board may terminate the services of not more than a corresponding percentage of the certificated employees of the district, permanent as well as probationary, at the close of the school year.

The services of a permanent employee cannot be terminated while any probationary employee, or any other employee with less seniority, is retained to render a service that the permanent employee is certificated and competent to render. If there are employees who first rendered paid service to the district on the same date, the board must determine the order of termination based solely on the needs of the district and students. An employee who is ordered terminated may request a statement of the specific criteria used to determine the order of termination. The board must furnish the statement in writing no later than five days prior to the hearing.

Notice of termination must be given before May 15, and employees must be terminated in the inverse of the order in which they were employed. A district may deviate from terminating a certificated employee in order of seniority for either of the following reasons: (1) the district demonstrates a specific need for personnel to teach a specific course or course of study, or to provide services authorized by a services credential with a specialization in either pupil personnel services or health for a school nurse, and that the certificated employee has special training and experience necessary to teach that course or course of study or to provide those services, which others with more seniority do not possess; or (2) to maintain or achieve compliance with constitutional requirements related to equal protection of the laws.
Colorado Based primarily on teacher performance.

The manner in which employment contracts will be cancelled when there is a justifiable decrease in the number of teaching positions must be included in any contract between the district board and district employees or in an established policy of the board. The contract or policy must include teacher performance, as measured by the performance evaluation system, as significant factors in determining which employment contracts to cancel. The contract or policy must include consideration of probationary and nonprobationary status and the number of years a teacher has been teaching in the school district; but those criteria may be considered only after the consideration of teacher performance and only if the contract or policy is in the best interest of the students enrolled in the school district.

For any teacher who is displaced as a result of a drop in enrollment; turnaround; phase-out; reduction in program; or reduction in building, including closure, consolidation or reconstitution:
  • A teacher may be assigned to a school only with the consent of the hiring principal and with input from at least two teachers employed at the school and chosen by the faculty of teachers at the school to represent them in the hiring process, and after a review of the teacher’s demonstrated effectiveness and qualifications. A nonprobationary teacher who was deemed effective during the prior school year and has not secured a mutual consent placement becomes a member of a priority hiring pool and is ensured the first opportunity to interview for a reasonable number of positions. If not selected for another position, the teacher is removed from the school or may be assigned a different teaching assignment, a substitute assignment or instructional support role during the period in which the teacher is attempting to secure an assignment through school-based hiring.
  • After 12 months or two hiring cycles, whichever is longer, the district must place the teacher on unpaid leave until an assignment is secured. At that time the salary and benefits are reinstated at the level they would have been if the teacher had not placed on unpaid leave.
Connecticut Based primarily on tenure status.

A tenured teacher may be laid off if the teacher’s position is eliminated and no other position exists to which the teacher may be appointed. If the teacher is qualified, he or she must be appointed to a position held by a teacher who has not attained tenure. Determination of the individual contract or contracts of employment to be terminated is made in accordance with either (A) a provision for a layoff procedure agreed upon by the board of education and the exclusive employees' representative organization, or (B) in the absence of such agreement, a written policy of the board of education.
Delaware Not addressed in statute.
District of Columbia Not addressed in statute.
Florida Based primarily on teacher performance. Use of seniority as a primary factor is prohibited.

If workforce reduction is needed, a district school board must retain employees at a school or in the school district based upon educational program needs and the performance evaluations of employees within the affected program areas. Within the program areas requiring reduction, the employee with the lowest performance evaluations must be the first to be released; the employee with the next lowest performance evaluations must be the second to be released; and reductions shall continue in like manner until the needed number of reductions has occurred. A district school board may not prioritize retention of employees based upon seniority.
Georgia Based primarily on teacher performance. Use of seniority as a primary factor is prohibited.

Local boards of education are prohibited from adopting or implementing a policy that allows length of service to be the primary or sole determining factor when implementing a reduction in force. The local board must consider as the primary factor the performance of the educator, one measure of which may be student academic performance. Any policy that does not comply with these requirements must be considered invalid and the State Board of Education, which is authorized to take action to withhold all or any portion of state funds.
Hawaii Based primarily on seniority.

Dismissals due to a decrease in the number of pupils or for causes over which the department has no control must begin with those teachers with the least number of years of service. The teachers dismissed are placed on a preferred eligibility list and have the right to be restored to duty in the order of length of service whenever vacancies occur for which the teacher is qualified.
Idaho Use of seniority or tenure status as a primary factor is prohibited.

The decision to institute a reduction in force and the selection of an employee or employees subject to the reduction is at the sole discretion of the board of trustees, except for the following limitation: the decision as to which employee or employees are subject to the reduction will not be made solely on consideration of employee seniority or contract status. Each school district may adopt a policy establishing an equitable method of recalling individuals subject to a reduction in force if positions become available subsequent to the reduction in force.
Illinois Based primarily on teacher performance.

Teachers are categorized into one or more positions by the May 10 prior to the school year during which the sequence of dismissal is determined. Within each position, and subject to agreements made by the joint committee on honorable dismissals, the school district or joint agreement establishes four groupings of teachers qualified to hold the position:
1. Grouping 1: teachers who are not in contractual continued service and who have not received a performance evaluation rating, are employed for one school term or less to replace a teacher on leave, or are employed on a part-time basis.
2. Grouping 2: teachers with a "needs improvement" or "unsatisfactory" performance evaluation rating on either of their last two performance evaluation ratings.
3. Grouping 3: teachers with a performance evaluation rating of at least "satisfactory" or "proficient" on both of their last two performance evaluation ratings, if two ratings are available, or on the last performance evaluation rating, if only one rating is available, unless the teacher qualifies for placement into grouping 4.
4. Grouping 4: teachers whose last two performance evaluation ratings are "excellent" and teachers with two "excellent" performance evaluation ratings out of the last three performance evaluation ratings with a third rating of "satisfactory" or "proficient."

Among teachers qualified to hold a position, teachers are dismissed in the order of their groupings, with teachers in grouping 1 dismissed first and teachers in grouping 4 dismissed last. Within grouping 1, the sequence of dismissal is at the discretion of the school district or joint agreement. Within grouping 2, the sequence of dismissal is based on average performance evaluation ratings, with the teachers with the lowest average performance evaluation rating dismissed first. Among teachers in grouping 2 with the same average performance evaluation rating and within each of groupings 3 and 4, teachers with the shorter length of continuing service with the school district or joint agreement are dismissed first unless an alternative method of determining the sequence of dismissal is established in a collective bargaining agreement or contract between the board and a professional faculty members' organization. Each board, including the governing board of a joint agreement, in consultation with any exclusive employee representatives, must each year establish a sequence of honorable dismissal list categorized by positions and the groupings.
Indiana Based primarily on teacher performance.

The cancellation of teachers’ contracts due to a justifiable decrease in the number of teaching positions is determined on the basis of performance rather than seniority. In cases where teachers are placed in the same performance category, any of the items in IC 20-28-9-1.5(b) may be considered.
Iowa Not addressed in statute.
Kansas Not addressed in statute.
Kentucky Based primarily on tenure status and seniority.

In making a reduction in force, the local superintendent must, within each teaching field affected, give preference to teachers on continuing contracts and to teachers who have greater seniority. Teachers whose continuing contracts are suspended have the right of restoration in continuing service status in the order of seniority of service in the district if teaching positions become vacant or are created for which any of the teachers are or become qualified.
Louisiana Based primarily on teacher performance.

All reduction in force policies adopted for use in dismissing teachers and administrators must be based solely upon demand, performance, and effectiveness, as determined by the performance evaluation program. Any reduction in force by a superintendent must be instituted by dismissing the least effective teacher within each targeted subject area or area of certification first, and then proceeding by effectiveness rating until the reduction in force has been accomplished.
Maine Based primarily on teacher performance.

The order of layoff and recall is a negotiable item under collective bargaining. In any negotiated agreement, the criteria negotiated by the school board and the bargaining agent to establish the order of layoff and recall must include the teacher's effectiveness rating as a factor and may also include, but may not be limited to, seniority.
Maryland Not addressed in statute.
Massachusetts Based primarily on tenure status.

A teacher with professional teacher status cannot be laid off pursuant to a reduction in force or reorganization if there is a teacher without professional status for whose position the covered employee is currently certified.
Michigan Based primarily on teacher performance. Use of tenure status or seniority is prohibited.

School districts must adopt, implement, maintain, and comply with a policy that provides that all personnel decisions when conducting a staffing or program reduction, a recall from a staffing or program reduction, or in hiring after a staffing or program reduction, are based on retaining effective teachers. The policy must ensure that a teacher who has been rated as ineffective under the performance evaluation system is not given any preference that would result in that teacher being retained over a teacher who is evaluated as minimally effective, effective, or highly effective. Effectiveness is measured by the performance evaluation system, and the personnel decisions must be made based on the following factors:
1. Individual performance must be the majority factor and must consist of at least: (a) evidence of student growth as the predominant factor; (b) the teacher's demonstrated pedagogical skills; (c) the teacher's management of the classroom; (d) the teacher's attendance and disciplinary record, if any.
2. Significant, relevant accomplishments and contributions based on whether the individual contributes to the overall performance of the school by making clear, significant, relevant contributions above the normal expectations and having demonstrated a record of exceptional performance.
3. Relevant special training based on completion of relevant training other than the professional development or continuing education that is required by the employer or by state law, and integration of that training into instruction in a meaningful way.
Length of service or tenure status cannot be a factor in a reduction in force unless the decision involves two or more employees and all other factors distinguishing those employees from each other are equal, then length of service or tenure status may be considered as a tiebreaker.
Minnesota If the local school board does not negotiate a RIF plan, based primarily on tenure status.

The school board and the exclusive bargaining representative of the teachers may negotiate a plan providing for unrequested leave of absence without pay or fringe benefits for as many teachers as may be necessary because of discontinuance of position, lack of pupils, financial limitations, or merger of classes caused by consolidation of districts. If they do not negotiate a plan, the following provisions apply:
1. The board may place probationary teachers on unrequested leave first, in the inverse order of their employment. A teacher who has acquired continuing contract rights must not be placed on unrequested leave of absence while probationary teachers are retained in positions for which the teacher who has acquired continuing contract rights is licensed;
2. Teachers who have acquired continuing contract rights are placed on unrequested leave of absence in fields in which they are licensed in the inverse order in which they were employed by the school district. In the case of equal seniority, the order in which teachers who have acquired continuing contract rights shall be placed on unrequested leave of absence in fields in which they are licensed is negotiable;
3. A probationary teacher may be retained in favor of a teacher with continuing contract rights if not doing so would place the district in violation of its affirmative action program;
4. Teachers placed on unrequested leave of absence must be reinstated to the positions from which they have been given leaves of absence or, if not available, to other available positions in the school district in fields in which they are licensed. Reinstatement must be in the inverse order of placement on leave of absence. A teacher must not be reinstated to a position in a field in which the teacher holds only a provisional license, other than a vocational education license, while another teacher who holds a nonprovisional license in the same field remains on unrequested leave. The order of reinstatement of teachers who have equal seniority and who are placed on unrequested leave in the same school year is negotiable;
5. Appointment of a new teacher must not be made while there is available, on unrequested leave, a teacher who is properly licensed to fill the vacancy.
Mississippi Not addressed in statute.
Missouri Based primarily on tenure status.

For metropolitan districts:
The board of education, upon recommendation of the superintendent of schools, may cause the necessary number of teachers, beginning with those serving probationary periods, to be placed on leave of absence without pay, but only in the inverse order of their appointment. Teachers placed on leave of absence must be reinstated in inverse order of placement on leave of absence. No appointment of new teachers can be made while there are available teachers on unrequested leave of absence who are properly qualified to fill such vacancies. Such leaves of absence do not impair the tenure of a teacher. The leave of absence continues for a period of not more than three years unless extended by the board.

For other districts:
The board of education of a school district may place on leave of absence as many teachers as may be necessary because of a decrease in pupil enrollment, school district reorganization or the financial condition of the school district. In placing teachers on leave, the board of education is governed by the following provisions:
1. No permanent teacher can be placed on leave of absence while probationary teachers are retained in positions for which a permanent teacher is qualified;
2. Permanent teachers must be retained on the basis of performance-based evaluations and seniority (however, seniority must not be controlling) within the field of specialization;
3. Permanent teachers must be reinstated to the positions from which they have been given leaves of absence, or if not available, to positions requiring like training and experience, or to other positions in the school system for which they are qualified by training and experience;
4. No appointment of new teachers can be made while there are available teachers on unrequested leave of absence who are properly qualified to fill such vacancies;
5. The leave of absence does not impair the tenure of a teacher;
6. The leave of absence continues for a period of not more than three years unless extended by the board.
Montana Not addressed in statute.
Nebraska Based primarily on tenure status.

Local school boards must adopt policies related to reductions in force. The policies cannot allow the reduction of a permanent or tenured employee while a probationary employee is retained to render a service which such permanent employee is qualified by reason of certification and endorsement to perform or, in cases in which certification is not applicable, by reason of college credits in the teaching area. If employee evaluation is to be included as a criterion to be used for reduction in force, specific criteria such as frequency of evaluation, evaluation forms, and number and length of classroom observations must be included as part of the reduction-in-force policy. Employees whose contracts are terminated have preferred rights to reemployment for a period of 24, and the employee must be recalled on the basis of length of service to the school to any position for which he or she is qualified by endorsement or college preparation to teach.
Nevada Use of seniority as a primary factor is prohibited.

Reduction in force cannot be based solely on seniority and may include, without limitation, a consideration of the following factors:
1. Whether the employee is employed in a position that is hard to fill
2. Whether the teacher has received a national board certification
3. The performance evaluations of the teacher
4. The disciplinary record of the teacher within the school district
5. The criminal record of the teacher, if any
6. The type of licensure held by the teacher
7. The type of degree attained by the teacher and whether the degree is in a subject area that is related to his or her position.
New Hampshire Use of seniority as a primary factor is prohibited.
New Jersey Based primarily on seniority.

Dismissals resulting from reduction in force must not be made by reason of residence, age, sex, marriage, race, religion or political affiliation but must be made on the basis of seniority according to standards to be established by the commissioner with the approval of the state board.
New Mexico Not addressed in statute.
New York Based primarily on seniority.
North Carolina Not addressed in statute.
North Dakota Not addressed in statute.
Ohio Based primarily on tenure status. Use of seniority as a primary factor is prohibited.

Preference is given to teachers on continuing contracts; however, the board prohibited from giving preference to any teacher based on seniority, except when making a decision between teachers who have comparable evaluations. A teacher whose continuing contract has been suspended does not lose the right of restoration to continuing service status by reason of having declined recall to a position that is less than full-time or, if the teacher was not employed full-time just prior to suspension of the teacher's continuing contract, to a position requiring a lesser percentage of full-time employment than the position the teacher last held while employed in the district or service center. Seniority must not be the basis for rehiring a teacher, except when making a decision between teachers who have comparable evaluations.
Oklahoma Based primarily on teacher performance.

The primary basis used in determining the retention or reassignment of teachers when a school district implements a reduction-in-force plan is the ratings of the teachers.
Oregon Based primarily on seniority.

In determining teachers to be retained when a school district reduces its staff, the school district must:
1. Determine whether teachers to be retained hold proper licenses at the time of layoff to fill the remaining positions.
2. Determine seniority of teachers to be retained, calculated from the first day of actual service as teachers with the school district inclusive of approved leaves of absence. Ties shall be broken by drawing lots.
3. Determine competence and merit of teachers, if necessary.
If a school district desires to retain a teacher with less seniority than a teacher being released, the district is required to determine that the teacher being retained has more competence or merit than the teacher with more seniority who is being released.
Pennsylvania Based primarily on seniority.

Professional employees are suspended in inverse order of seniority within the school entity of current employment.
Rhode Island Based primarily on seniority.

Suspension of teachers must be in the inverse order of their employment unless it is necessary to retain certain teachers of technical subjects whose places cannot be filled by teachers of earlier appointment. Teachers that are suspended must be reinstated in the inverse order of their suspension. No new appointments shall be made while there are available suspended teachers suspended.
South Carolina Not addressed in statute
South Dakota Not addressed in statute.
Tennessee Based primarily on teacher performance.

When it becomes necessary to reduce the number of teaching positions because of a decrease in enrollment or for other good reasons, the board is empowered to dismiss teachers based on their level of effectiveness determined by the evaluation for licensed employees. A teacher rated in the three highest categories based on evaluations who has been dismissed because of abolition of a position must be placed on a list for reemployment. The director of schools has the power to determine the filling of vacancies on the basis of the director’s evaluation of the teacher's competence, compatibility, and suitability to properly discharge the duties required for the vacant position considered in the light of the best interest of the students in the school where the vacancy exists. A principal may refuse to accept the placement or transfer of a teacher by the director of schools to the principal's school. The teacher's most recent evaluations must be a factor in such determination.
Texas Based primarily on teacher performance.

A teacher employed under a continuing contract may be released at the end of a school year and the teacher's employment with the school district terminated at that time because of a necessary reduction of personnel by the school district, with those reductions made primarily based upon teacher appraisals administered in the specific teaching fields and other criteria as determined by the board.
Utah Use of seniority as a primary factor is prohibited.

A school district may not utilize a last-hired, first-fired layoff policy when terminating school district employees. A school district may consider the following factors when terminating a school district employee:
1. The results of an employee's performance evaluation; and
2. A school's personnel needs.
Vermont Not addressed in statute.
Virginia Use of seniority as a primary factor is prohibited.

If a school board implements a reduction in workforce, the reduction must not be made solely on the basis of seniority but must include consideration of, among other things, the performance evaluations of the teachers potentially affected by the reduction in workforce.
Washington Beginning with the 2015-16 school year, evaluation results for certificated classroom teachers must be used as one of multiple factors in making human resource and personnel decisions including reduction in force.
West Virginia Based primarily on seniority.

Whenever a county board is required to reduce the number of professional personnel in its employment, the employee with the least amount of seniority shall be properly notified and released from employment.
Wisconsin Based primarily on seniority.

If it is necessary to decrease the number of permanently employed teachers due to a substantial decrease in the pupil population in the school district, the governing body of the school system or school may lay off the necessary number of teachers, but only in the inverse order of the appointment of such teachers. Teachers must be reinstated in inverse order of their being laid off, if qualified to fill the vacancies. No new permanent or substitute appointments may be made while there are laid off permanent teachers available who are qualified to fill the vacancies.

Note: The provisions of this section of law (§118.23) appear to apply only to teachers hired prior to 1995.
Wyoming Not addressed in statute.

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