October 25, 2019 Amendments to the Education Law Concerning the Probationary Period for Certain Administrators
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
We are writing to inform you of recent amendments to the Education Law shortening the probationary period for certain administrators. The law for administrators now more closely aligns with that governing the probationary period for teachers.
The standard probationary period for teachers and administrators appointed on or after July 1, 2015 continues to be four years. The law currently mandates that the probationary period for teachers be shortened, under certain circumstances, if they were previously granted tenure or if they served as a regular substitute prior to being appointed (the latter is known as “Jarema” credit). However, before these amendments, there were no parallel provisions mandating or specifically providing for any shortened probationary period for administrators.
With these amendments, effective June 1, 2020, the Education Law gives “a principal, administrator, supervisor or other member of the supervising staff” a shortened, three year probationary period if he or she was previously granted tenure as an administrator within an authorized administrative tenure area, regardless of the school district or BOCES in which tenure was granted. In order to be eligible for the three year probationary period, though, the administrator must not have been dismissed from the previous appointment as a result of Education Law § 3020-a or 3020-b charges. This is the same as for classroom teachers. Unlike classroom teachers, however, there is no requirement that the administrator have received an APPR rating in his or her final year of the previous appointment in order to be eligible for the shortened probationary period.
The amendments apply only to administrators “beginning their probationary period” on or after June 1, 2020. To protect against administrators receiving tenure by operation of law, rather than through board action, administrators appointed before then are unaffected and still have a four year probationary period. It may be difficult for administrators, if they are looking on their own, though, to find the provision of law that makes this clear. This is because the language regarding to whom the amendment applies was not codified in the Education Law. Instead, it only appears in the legislation.
The amendments did not change the Education Law provisions linking APPR with completion of probation. Ordinarily, a principal (or a classroom teacher) appointed on or after July 1, 2015 must have been rated either “effective” or “highly effective” in at least three of the preceding four years (and not be rated “ineffective” in the final year of his or her probation) in order to be granted tenure. In the case of a principal who has a three year probationary period, and who has received a rating of “effective” or better in each of those three years, the district should make a tenure decision prior to the end of the third year (or contact us for further guidance) in order to avoid a claim of tenure by estoppel.
If you would like assistance in determining the length of an administrator’s probationary period, please contact Adam Ross or any of our other attorneys at 631-694-2300.
THIS MEMORANDUM IS MEANT TO ASSIST IN GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CURRENT LAW. IT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.
© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP 2019