Teacher Tenure Protects Against Unlawful Termination

Teacher Tenure Protects Against Unlawful Termination

New York teacher tenure attorneys understand the complex rules and regulations that public school districts are required to follow. New York State and Federal rules govern nearly every aspect of running a public school such as purchasing classroom materials, providing transportation, administering standardized tests, soliciting contracts, and hiring and firing.

School districts are not the same as private employers and unlike most workers in New York, tenured teachers are not “at-will” employees. At-will means that an employer can terminate a worker for any reason or no reason as long as the reason is not illegal. A school district, similarly, may not fire a tenured teacher for an illegal reason.

Tenure Offers Teachers Additional Protections

Tenure, however, provides teachers with additional protection. A teacher must earn tenure only after successfully completing a probationary period. A tenured teacher then is entitled to a fair hearing before being dismissed — a basic right to due process. A school district may only fire a tenured teacher if it is “for cause.”

When a school does terminate a tenured teacher, it must follow numerous steps. At any time, a violation of the teacher’s due process may occur. If you are a teacher, and a school district, college or university has discriminated against you or otherwise violated your rights, contact New York teacher tenure attorneys at Leeds Brown.

The attorneys at Leeds Brown have been working for decades protecting the rights of employees in the education field. Our attorneys understand the many complex tenure and education laws and know how to proceed against your employer to secure the outcome you want. We have a successful track record of obtaining outstanding results for teachers across New York. Using our team-based, collaborative approach, Leeds Brown will work hard to resolve your dispute in the way that best satisfies your needs.

New York Tenured Teachers Must Receive Due Process

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are over 209,000 public school teachers in 728 school districts across New York State. There are over 70,000 public school teachers in New York City alone.

Tenure is the name given to the statutory right to due process that applies to teachers. The due process clause of the Constitution mandates that no state may “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This clause covers teachers employed by public school districts and protects teachers from arbitrary dismissal which was a tremendous problem earlier in our country’s history.

Now, of course, there are many other laws that protect against illegal termination. Tenure, however, establishes the minimum due process or procedural requirements that a school district must follow when disciplining or terminating a teacher who has earned or received tenure. When a school district violates any of the prescribed requirements, a tenured teacher may have a cause of action.

What is Due Process for New York Teachers?

Due process includes rules, procedures and time limits for filing charges, requesting hearings, notices, conferences, decisions, and appeals. Due process also prescribes particular outcomes in certain circumstances. For instance, for a disciplinary hearing (3020-a hearing), a charge must be filed during the actual school year or within three years unless the alleged conduct is a crime. The District Clerk must notify the board of education immediately, and they have only a few days to decide on a disposition. The list of requirements goes on and on.

At any stage in the complicated process is the opportunity for someone to violate due process requirements. The clerk or board may not provide timely notice; a hearing may be held later than mandated; proper articulation of the charges may not occur, or the board may hand down an inappropriate resolution.

Teachers have rights that most employees don’t. They have the right to due process. They have a right to state their case and advocate for their position before being terminated, disciplined or stripped of their teaching license.

Leeds Brown has a thorough understanding of due process requirements and the many ways in which school districts try to violate them.

Teacher Termination for Cause

A district school board of education may only terminate a tenured teacher if it has cause to do so. Even then, it must strictly adhere to the due process requirements. The definition of cause varies from state to state. In New York, it includes things such as:

  • Insubordination
  • Immoral character
  • Conduct unbecoming a teacher
  • Inefficiency
  • Incompetence
  • Neglect of duty
  • Failure to maintain certification

If you have been terminated or suspended for cause, make sure you know your rights. Does the school have evidence supporting the reason it claims to be disciplining you? Have you had a chance to respond to the allegations? Has all paperwork been filed promptly? Do you have records of past evaluations? Has the district warned you? Have they tried to help you? What does your union contract say?

Beware that a school district may try to disguise discrimination as cause. Consider how it has treated other similarly situated teachers. It may be discriminatory if the district has accused only men of incompetence. If only teachers over the age of 60 are being rated ineffective, age discrimination may be a factor.

Contact Us

New York teachers’ rights attorneys at Leeds Brown take pride in protecting and strengthening the tenure rights public school educators. School districts and universities must be held accountable when they violate due process or otherwise act in a manner contrary to the rights of tenured professionals. Our firm helps teachers ensure that their rights are not whittled away by overzealous district administrators who may have inappropriate motivation or discriminatory intent.

Even if your district claims to have terminated you “for cause”- speak to the teacher tenure attorneys at Leeds Brown. Make sure that there is not more to the story. You worked hard to get this far in your career. You earned tenure by being a good educator. Protect your livelihood and your passion by reaching out to the expert New York teacher’s rights attorneys.

Discrimination against all teachers is unlawful. Violating the due process rights of a tenured teacher is unlawful as well. Find out if you are entitled to monetary damages by contacting Leeds Brown. You may be eligible to receive back pay, reinstatement and other compensation.

Someone is here to answer your call 24/7. You can reach NY teacher tenure lawyers at 1-800-585-4658.


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Shortly after beginning medical school, I experienced some academic difficulties. After seeing my physicians, I was diagnosed with ADHD. After I started receiving specific treatment for ADHD, I requested the school to accommodate me for the disability as recommended by my physician. One of the requests made was for extended time to take my exams. The extension of time was granted...

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