One of the less-pleasant rites of spring for Connecticut’s public school districts is determining whether to non-renew the employment of their non-tenured teachers. Section 10-151 of the Connecticut General Statutes, which governs the employment of the state’s public school teachers, requires districts to provide non-tenured teachers with written notice of their non-renewal no later than May 1.
If a school district fails to provide timely notice of non-renewal, the non-tenured teacher’s employment automatically continues. More significantly, the failure to provide written notice of non-renewal by May 1 may result in the teacher automatically attaining tenure. It is, therefore, critical for school districts to be aware of the timelines contained in Section 10-151.
- “90 days” – until they have been employed for at least 90 days (the law has been amended as of July 1, 2014 to clarify that “days” means “calendar days,” but the same would probably also be held to apply prior to July 1), individuals are not considered “teachers” for purposes of Connecticut’s tenure law (remember, a “teacher” is any certified professional employee below the rank of superintendent). Thus, school districts can simply discharge them without having to invoke the tenure law’s non-renewal or termination procedures;“
- 40 school months” – tenure is automatically achieved after completion of 40 school months of continuous employment for teachers hired on or after July 1, 1996;
- “30 school months” – tenure is automatically achieved after completion of 30 school months of continuous employment for teachers hired prior to July 1, 1996 (this part of the tenure law ends this year);
- “20 school months” – a teacher who attained tenure with any Connecticut board of education but whose employment subsequently ended for any reason, and who, within five calendar years, is subsequently reemployed by the same board or employed by another board of education, will automatically obtain tenure after completion of 20 school months of continuous employment. To be effective, written notice of non-renewal must be given prior to completion of the 20th school month following commencement of employment;
- “10 months” – an often overlooked route to obtaining tenure is the 10-month track. A teacher employed by a priority school district, may obtain tenure after only 10 months of employment if such teacher previously attained tenure with another local or regional board of education in Connecticut, or in another state. Interestingly, this part of the statute does not use the terms “school months” or “continuous employment.” Furthermore, this is the only part of Section 10-151 that credits the attainment of tenure with an out-of-state school board toward entitlement to tenure in Connecticut;
- “5 calendar years” – tenure automatically resumes if a tenured teacher who was laid off is reemployed by the same board of education within 5 calendar years;
- “50% or more” – a “full time” teacher means employed at a salary rate of 50% or more of full time salary; “part time” is less than 50%;
- “2 months” – 2 months part time equals 1 month full time, except that if a part time position is less than 25%, “3 months” equals 1 month full time;
- “90 student school days” – if a teacher’s authorized leave time exceeds 90 student school days, in any one school year, it does not count towards tenure calculation – only the days worked that year by that teacher count;
- “18 student school days or the greater fraction thereof” equals 1 school month, but note that the statute also defines “school month” as any calendar month other than July or August in which a teacher is employed as a teacher at least one-half of the student school days; since there may be fewer than 18 student school days in some school months, err on the side of caution if your calculation becomes this precise.
ADDITIONAL POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND:
Non-renewal does not require proof of incompetence, or any of the other “for cause” reasons enumerated in Section 10-151; those only apply to terminations. Any lawful reason that is not arbitrary and capricious will suffice.
A non-renewed teacher does not have a right to a hearing if the reason is either elimination of position or loss of position to another teacher.