Friday, July 13, 2012

Q & A on Act 1 Changes to Teacher Tenure and Compensation

Legislation Passed in 2012 Will DRASTICALLY Change Your Profession

What happened when House Bill 974 was signed into law as ACT 1?

ACT 1 OF 2012 repeals the provisions surrounding tenure, compensation, and teacher evaluation that LAE worked so hard to implement over the years. Below are questions you might have concerning tenure and compensation changes.

If I’m a tenured teacher, do I retain tenure under ACT 1?


How do I continue to retain tenure under ACT 1?

Receive an evaluation rating that is above “ineffective” on the average of the “value-added” and “observation” portions of your evaluation each year.

How can I lose tenure under ACT 1?

Receive one performance rating of “ineffective.”

If I am rated “ineffective,” when would I lose my tenure rights under ACT 1?

The law states that you lose your tenure rights “immediately.”

What happens when you are rated “ineffective”?

You may be fired immediately. You will be able to grieve your evaluation to the school board. If you win your grievance, you retain your job and your tenure will be reinstated.

What happens next?

Upon loss of tenure, you become an “at-will” employee. You may be fired at any time. If you maintain your job, you can only attain tenure again if you are rated as “highly effective” for five years within a six year period.

Recommendation: Any LAE member who receives an “ineffective” rating needs representation immediately. LAE will challenge each and every “ineffective” rating received by any of its members.

Have the grounds for dismissing a tenured teacher changed?
Yes. In addition to willful neglect of duty, incompetency, dishonesty, and immorality, Act 1 adds another ground for termination of a tenured teacher – “poor performance” – which the Act equates to an “ineffective” evaluation or value-added rating.

As a tenured teacher, do I have a right to a hearing?

Within seven days of dismissal, a teacher may request, and upon request, shall be granted a hearing by a panel composed of a designee of the superintendent, a designee of the principal, and a designee of the teacher. The hearing shall begin seven business days after receipt of the teacher’s request for a hearing. The teacher shall have the right to appear before the hearing panel with witnesses on his or her behalf. The teacher shall have a right to counsel of his or her selection. The panel will submit its recommendation to the superintendent. The superintendent may choose to reinstate, or not, and must notify the teacher in writing of the final determination. The teacher has 60 days to petition the courts to review whether the actions of the superintendent were arbitrary and capricious. The record or review shall be limited to evidence presented to the tenure hearing panel, and the court shall review the matter no later than ten days after the petition has been filed. LAE will represent individual members with tenure who are dismissed and request a hearing.

If I’m a new teacher, how do I obtain tenure?

You attain tenure if rated “highly effective” for five years within a six-year period. Based on the Louisiana Superintendent of Education’s testimony before the House and Senate Education Committees, only ten (10%) percent of all teachers will be rated as “highly effective” each year. The vast majority of teachers (an estimated 80%) are expected to be “emerging” or “proficient” in any given year. It will be virtually impossible for any teacher to attain tenure. A teacher will remain an “at-will” employee without tenure.

I’m a second year teacher and would have attained tenure in the summer of 2013. How do the reforms impact my attainment of tenure?

If a teacher has not attained tenure before September 1, 2012 they are in the same position as a new teacher and must be rated “highly effective” for five years within a six-year period to attain tenure. It will be virtually impossible for any non-tenured teacher as of September 1, 2012 to attain tenure. A teacher will remain an “at-will” employee without tenure.

As a non-tenured teacher, do I have any rights prior to being terminated?

The superintendent (in consultation with your principal) can terminate your employment “at will.”This will be accomplished by providing you with written reasons for termination of your employment and providing you with seven days within which to respond. Your response will be included in your personnel file. You have no further rights.

What does it mean to be an “at-will” employee?

In a situation where an employee is an “at-will” employee, the employer has the right to terminate the employee for a good reason, bad reason or no reason at all.


Will I be compensated for work beyond the school day?

No, unless your contract provides for such compensation. Act 1 enacts La. R.S. 17:418(A) (1) to read: “The salaries as provided [in the new salary schedules to be adopted] shall be considered as full compensation for all work required and performed within each employee’s prescribed scope of duties.”

Will I be compensated for attending meetings outside of the school day or Saturday workshops?

No, unless your contract provides for such compensation. If you are required to attend an orientation meeting for a day other than a scheduled work day, you will not receive additional compensation for your time.

Will I continue to receive a stipend for coaching, being a club sponsor, or being a nationally board certified teacher?

No, unless your contract provides for such compensation. Your salary schedule will be considered as full compensation for all of the duties that you are required to perform.

Can my school year be lengthened beyond 180 days?

Yes. You may be required to work more than 180 days and attend meetings outside of the regular work day.

If additional days are added or if I am required to attend meetings outside of the regular work day, will I receive additional pay?

No, unless your contract provides for such compensation. Your work day, or work year, may be increased without any additional compensation. The statutes requiring that you receive additional compensation for these items have been repealed.

What happens when you are rated ineffective?

If a teacher is deemed ineffective and continues their employment, they shall not receive a raise in salary.

How will my salary be computed if I am a first-year teacher?

It is impossible to determine how first-year teachers will be compensated. The state minimum salary schedules have been repealed effective July 1, 2012. Act 1 does not require that new salary schedules be adopted before the 2013-2014 school year.

When the new salary schedules are adopted, they are required to be based solely on “effectiveness” (as determined by the “value-added” model), demand, and experience. No one of these three items can make up more than 50% of the salary calculation; however, since a first-year teacher does not possess two of the components (effectiveness or experience), it is impossible to determine how a new teacher will be compensated.

How do I get a raise?

To get a raise, teachers must be rated effective or highly effective. Different teachers with the same level of experience may be paid different salaries. Your individual salary will be determined by three factors: (a) your level of “effectiveness” under the “value-added” model, (b) the “demand” for your services based upon your area of certification, the particular needs of a school, the geographic area, and subject area, and (c) experience.

What should I do?

LAE recommends to all of its members that they demand a teacher contract with the employing school system prior to beginning work. Requiring that you receive a contract will take the uncertainty out of how you will be paid and whether you will be paid for any additional work.

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