Posts tagged with "tenure"

On “An Act Concerning Educational Reform” in Connecticut

On May 15, 2012, Governor Dannel Malloy signed Public Act No. 12-116, also known as Senate Bill No. 458, which implements public school educational reform in the State of Connecticut. Leaders from both sides of the political aisle came together in a bipartisan effort and compromised to bring changes to such areas as “early reading, school turnarounds, school choice, and school staffing,” and the comprehensive, 185-page legislation “delivers more resources targeted to those districts and schools with the greatest need.”[1] Additional highlights from the bill include:

  • An increase in education spending by $100 million
  • The designation of “Alliance Districts,” which are comprised of the “30… low performing [school districts] that altogether will receive 80 percent of the total $50 million in additional state education dollars for the districts.” This money, which will be on top of that already budgeted by cities and towns involved, is for education purposes only.[2]
  • An increase in per-student grant monies for charter schools, from $9,400 at present to $11,500 for the 2014-2015 school year.[3]

In addition, Section 19 of the bill authorizes the establishment of a “commissioner’s network of [twenty-five (25)] schools to improve student academic achievement in low-performing schools.” Each participating school will create a committee that will evaluate the present condition of the school (an operations and instructional audit), then create a “turnaround plan” that will roadmap the changes that must take place. This plan must describe how the plan will improve the academic achievement of students, address the deficiencies discovered during the audit, and implement one of the six turnaround models enumerated in the legislation. In addition, the network “requires annual performance evaluations for principals, administrators and teachers and links tenure to a teacher’s effectiveness.”[4]

“I commend Connecticut for coming together to enact meaningful education reforms that will benefit students. I know the negotiations on S.B. 458 were difficult, but Governor Malloy and the legislature, business, unions, educators, and advocates were committed to begin fixing what is broken in public schools.” – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

The text of Senate Bill No. 458 can be found by following this link. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding education law matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya at the Maya Murphy, P.C. Westport office located in Fairfield County at (203) 221-3100 or at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.


[1] “Governor Signs Education Reform Into Law,” by the Associated Press. May 15, 2012: www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Governor-Signs-Education-Reform-Into-Law-151556065.html

[2] “Malloy says ‘We will fix our schools,’” by JC Reindl. May 15, 2012: www.theday.com/article/20120515/NWS12/120519753/-1/NWS

[3] “Compromise CT Ed Reform Bill Passes Senate and House,” by Julia Lawrence. May 10, 2012: www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/compromise-ct-ed-reform-bill-passes-senate-and-house

[4] See Footnote 1.

Considering Teacher Evaluation Under Connecticut Law

On Sunday night, the Chicago Teacher’s Union called for a strike that lasted this entire week, stemming from disagreements over such negotiable employment terms as teacher evaluations. As Katherine Wojtecki explained, “Teachers are concerned about job security in the wake of a new program that evaluates them based on their students’ standardized test scores” that had the potential to leave thousands of teachers without jobs.[1]

Presently, Connecticut law governing teachers is rather extensive and goes into particular detail regarding employment, tenure, and notice and hearing on failure to renew or termination of contracts. See Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) § 10-151. The process of evaluating teacher performance, particularly in light of the potential pitfalls as seen in Chicago, had already become a focal point of legislation in this State. At the present time, Connecticut law requires continuous evaluation of school teachers by every district, taking into consideration more factors than mere test results: 1) teacher strengths; 2) areas that need improvement; 3) improvement strategy indicators; and 4) numerous measures of student academic growth.[2]

By July 1, 2013, the State Board of Education “must develop new model teacher evaluation program guidelines for using multiple indicators of student academic growth.”[3] In addition, public schools will be required to collect data not just on mastery test scores but also students and teachers themselves. This data will then be used when evaluating student performance and growth. Teacher data that must be collected is articulated in C.G.S. § 10-10a:

(i)                  Teacher credentials, such as master’s degrees, teacher preparation programs completed and certification levels and endorsement areas

(ii)                Teacher assessments, such as whether a teacher is deemed highly qualified pursuant to the No Child Left Behind Act, P.L. 107-110, or deemed to meet such other designations as may be established by federal law or regulations for the purposes of tracking the equitable distribution of instructional staff

(iii)              The presence of substitute teachers in a teacher’s classroom

(iv)               Class size

(v)                 Numbers relating to absenteeism in a teacher’s classroom

(vi)               The presence of a teacher’s aide

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

For more information regarding statutory requirements that govern teacher layoffs and evaluations, please follow this link, which provides a summary produced by the Office of Legislative Research. Should you have any questions about teacher evaluations or other education law matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at Maya Murphy, P.C.’s Westport office located in Fairfield County at (203) 221-3100 or at JMaya@mayalaw.com.


[1] “Source: Tentative deal reached in Chicago teacher strike,” by Katherine Wojtecki. September 14, 2012: http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/14/us/illinois-chicago-teachers-strike/index.html

[2] “Teacher Layoff and Teacher Evaluation Requirements,” by Judith Lohman, Office of Legislative Research. February 9, 2011: http://cga.ct.gov/2011/rpt/2011-R-0075.htm

[3] Id.

Special Needs Trusts in Connecticut

A special needs trust is set up for a person with special needs to supplement any benefits the person with special needs may receive from government programs. A properly drafted special needs trust will allow the beneficiary to receive government benefits while still receiving funds from the trust. There are three main types of special needs trusts, but first it is important to understand how a typical trust works.

What is a trust?

A trust is really a relationship between three parties — a donor, who supplies the funds for the trust; a trustee, who agrees to hold and administer the funds according to the donor’s wishes; and a beneficiary or beneficiaries who receive the benefit of the funds. Often, but not always, the donor’s wishes are spelled out in a document that gives the trustee instructions about how she should use the trust assets. Trusts have been used for estate planning for a long time, and are highly useful tools for ensuring that a donor’s property is administered as he sees fit. One of the reasons trusts are so popular is that they usually survive the death of the donor, providing a low-cost way to manage the donor’s assets for others when the donor is gone.

What is a Special Needs Trust?

A special needs trust is a trust tailored to a person with special needs that is designed to manage assets for that person’s benefit while not compromising access to important government benefits. There are three main types of special needs trusts: the first-party trust, the third-party trust, and the pooled trust. All three name the person with special needs as the beneficiary. A “first-party” special needs trust holds assets that belong to the person with special needs, such as an inheritance or an accident settlement. A “third-party” special needs trust holds funds belonging to other people who want to help the person with special needs. A pooled trust holds funds from many different beneficiaries with special needs.

What kinds of Special Needs Trusts are there?

The reason there are several different types of trusts has to do with regulations regarding Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is a government program that assists people with low incomes who have special needs. In order to qualify for SSI, an applicant or beneficiary can have only $2,000 in his own name. If the person has more than $2,000 in his own name, (typically because of excess savings, an inheritance or an accident settlement), the government allows him to qualify for SSI so long as he places his assets into a first-party special needs trust.

The trust must be created by the beneficiary’s parent or grandparent, or by a court, but it cannot be created by the beneficiary, even though his assets are going to fund the trust. While the beneficiary is living, the funds in the trust are used for his benefit, and when he dies, any assets remaining in the trust are used to reimburse the government for the cost of his medical care. These trusts are especially useful for beneficiaries who are receiving SSI and come into large amounts of money, because the trust allows the beneficiary to retain his benefits while still being able to use his own funds when necessary.

Third-Party Special Needs Trusts

The third-party special needs trust is most often used by parents and other family members to assist a person with special needs. These trusts can hold any kind of asset imaginable belonging to the family member or other individual, including a house, stocks and bonds, and other types of investments.

The third-party trust functions like a first-party special needs trust in that the assets held in the trust do not affect an SSI beneficiary’s access to benefits and the funds can be used to pay for the beneficiary’s supplemental needs beyond those covered by government benefits. But a third-party special needs trust does not contain the “payback” provision found in first-party trusts. This means that when the beneficiary with special needs dies, any funds remaining in her trust can pass to other family members, or to charity, without having to be used to reimburse the government.

Pooled Special Needs Trust

A pooled trust is an alternative to the first-party special needs trust. Essentially, a charity sets up these trusts that allow beneficiaries to pool their resources for investment purposes, while still maintaining separate accounts for each beneficiary’s needs. When the beneficiary dies, the funds remaining in her account reimburse the government for her care, but a portion also goes towards the non-profit organization responsible for managing the trust.

Anyone can establish a special needs trust and, if the trust is properly drafted to account for tax planning, in certain situations gifts into the trust could very well reduce the size of the donor’s taxable estate. As if these are not enough reasons to create a trust, elderly people who are attempting to qualify for long-term care coverage through Medicaid can transfer their assets into a properly drafted third-party special needs trust for the sole benefit of a person with disabilities without incurring a transfer-of-assets penalty, allowing the elder to qualify for Medicaid and making sure that the person with disabilities is taken care of in the future.

Of course, every person with special needs is different, which means that every special needs trust is going to be different as well. The only way to determine which special needs trust is right for your family is to meet with a qualified special needs planner to discuss your needs. If you have any questions regarding this topic, or any special education law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.

What are Special Education Related Services?

Your child’s need of related services will be determined by your child’s Planning and Placement Team (PPT) or Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Services shall be implemented as part of his or her IEP. Your child’s school district is responsible for the costs of implementing related services pertaining to your child’s needs. This is part of the school’s requirement to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE). FAPE, by definition, includes related services.

The following are examples of related services:

  • speech-language pathology and audiology services
  • interpreting services
  • psychological services
  • physical and occupational therapy
  • recreation, including therapeutic recreation
  • social work services
  • counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling
  • orientation, mobility and medical services (except that such medical services shall be for diagnostic and evaluation purposes only)

If you have any questions regarding this topic, or any special education law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.

Contractual Rights for Teachers: An Overview

Contracts for School Teachers

The law of contracts applies to contracts between teachers and school districts. This law includes the concepts of offer, acceptance, mutual assent, and consideration. For a teacher to determine whether a contract exists, he or she should consult authority on the general law of contracts. This section focuses on contract laws specific to teaching and education.

Ratification of Contracts by School Districts

Even if a school official offers a teacher a job and the teacher accepts this offer, many state laws require that the school board ratify the contract before it becomes binding. Thus, even if a principal of a school district informs a prospective teacher that the teacher has been hired, the contract is not final until the school district accepts or ratifies the contract. The same is true if a school district fails to follow proper procedures when determining whether to ratify a contract.

Teacher’s Handbook as a Contract

Some teachers have argued successfully that provisions in a teacher’s handbook granted the teacher certain contractual rights. However, this is not common, as many employee handbooks include clauses stating that the handbook is not a contract. For a provision in a handbook to be legally binding, the teacher must demonstrate that the actions of the teacher and the school district were such that the elements for creating a contract were met.

Breach of Teacher Contract

Either a teacher or a school district can breach a contract. Whether a breach has occurred depends on the facts of the case and the terms of the contract. Breach of contract cases between teachers and school districts arise because a school district has terminated the employment of a teacher, even though the teacher has not violated any of the terms of the employment agreement. In several of these cases, a teacher has taken a leave of absence, which did not violate the employment agreement, and the school district terminated the teacher due to the leave of absence. Similarly, a teacher may breach a contract by resigning from the district before the end of the contract term (usually the end of the school year).

Remedies for Breach of Contract

The usual remedy for a breach of contract between a school district and a teacher is monetary damages. If a school district has breached a contract, the teacher will usually receive the amount the teacher would have received under the contract, less the amount the teacher receives (or could receive) by attaining alternative employment. Other damages, such as the cost to the teacher in finding other employment, may also be available. Non-monetary remedies, such as a court requiring a school district to rehire a teacher or to comply with contract terms, are available in some circumstances, though courts are usually hesitant to order such remedies. If a teacher breaches a contract, damages may be the cost to the school district for finding a replacement. Many contracts contain provisions prescribing the amount of damages a teacher must pay if he or she terminates employment before the end of the contract.

If you feel you have been mistreated by your employer or in your place of employment and would like to explore your employment law options, contact the experienced employment law attorneys today at 203-221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com. We have the experience and knowledge you need at this critical juncture. We serve clients in both New York and Connecticut including New Canaan, Bridgeport, White Plains, and Darien.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com.


Source: FindLaw

***All posts for the MayaLaw.com blog are created as a public service for the community. This case overview is intended for informational purposes only, and is not a solicitation of any client.***

Brief Summary of Connecticut’s Teacher Tenure Law

Connecticut’s teacher tenure law sets out strict termination and due process requirements for teachers, whether or not they have tenure. It covers certified professional employees below the rank of superintendent employed by a board of education for at least 90 days in a position that requires certification.

Covered teachers first hired after July 1, 1996 attain tenure after working for 40 school months, if their contracts are renewed for the following school year. Teachers who attain tenure with one board of education and who are reemployed by the same or another board after a break in service attain tenure after 20 school months of continuous employment, if their contracts are renewed for the following school year.

Tenured teachers have their contracts automatically renewed from year-to-year; can be dismissed only for six statutorily specified reasons; and have the right to (1) bump untenured teachers in positions for which they are qualified if their positions are eliminated, (2) written notice of the reasons for termination, (3) a termination hearing before the board of education or an impartial hearing panel, and (4) appeal the results of the hearing to Superior Court.

Untenured teachers must be (1) employed under a written contract; (2) notified by April 1 if their contracts are not being renewed for the following year; (3) given written reasons for termination or nonrenewal on request; (4) allowed a hearing before the board of education or an impartial hearing panel on the termination; and (5) if the termination is for moral misconduct or disability, granted the right to appeal to Superior Court.

As a teacher, it is imperative that you understand Connecticut’s statutory scheme surrounding hiring, evaluation, and termination processes. Should you have any questions regarding these or other education law matters, you should seek the counsel of an experienced school law practitioner. Please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

Tenured Teacher Dismissal Process and Timetable

The teacher tenure law sets out strict termination and due process requirements for teachers, whether or not they have tenure. Tenured teachers have their contracts automatically renewed from year-to-year; can be dismissed only for six statutorily specified reasons; and have the right to (1) bump untenured teachers in positions for which they are qualified if their positions are eliminated, (2) written notice of the reasons for termination, (3) a termination hearing before the board of education or an impartial hearing panel, and (4) appeal the results of the hearing to Superior Court.

Reasons for Dismissal of Tenured Teacher

The tenured teacher dismissal process can only commenced against a tenured teacher for:

  • Inefficiency or incompetence based on evaluations that comply with State Board of Education guidelines for evaluations;
  • Insubordination against reasonable board of education rules;
  • Moral misconduct;
  • Disability proven by medical evidence;
  • Elimination of the position to which he was appointed or loss of a position another teacher, as long as there is no other position for which the teacher is qualified and subject to the applicable provisions of a collective bargaining agreement or school board policy; or
  • Other due and sufficient cause.

Before they become tenured, teachers can also be notified in writing by April 1 of each school year that their contracts will not be renewed for the coming year. The board does not have to specify any reason for nonrenewal unless the teacher files a written request for the reason. If the teacher makes such a request, the board must supply a reason within seven days.

Tenured Teacher Dismissal Process and Timetable

School boards must follow a specific statutory process when dismissing both tenured and nontenured teachers. The process requires notice, a hearing, and a right to appeal.

Notice and Right to a Hearing

The law requires local school boards to follow the steps and timetable shown in Table 1 when notifying a tenured teacher that it is considering his termination.

Table 1: Tenured Teacher Pre-Hearing Termination Process

Table 1: Tenured Teacher
Pre-Hearing Termination Process

Hearing and Hearing Panel

The board may hear the case itself or may designate a subcommittee of three or more board members to hear the case. The board may convene an impartial hearing panel, if the teacher requests it or the board designates one. The parties may also agree to a hearing before an impartial hearing officer chosen by both parties. If the parties cannot agree on a hearing officer within five days after they decide to use one, the hearing must be held before either the board or a hearing panel. The hearing panel consists of three members, one chosen by the teacher, one by the board, and a chairman chosen by these two members.

If the two members cannot agree, the third member must be selected with the help of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), using its expedited process and rules for selecting neutral grievance arbitrators. If these procedures do not work after five days, the board of education or a subcommittee must hear the case. Each party pays its own panel member and splits the cost of the third and all other hearing costs.

The hearing, decision, and appeal timetable is shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Hearing, Decision, and Appeal Timetable

Table 2: Hearing, Decision, and Appeal Timetable

Despite the foregoing requirements, the law gives a school board the right to suspend a teacher from duty immediately and without prejudice when serious misconduct is charged. [1]

As a teacher, it is imperative that you understand Connecticut’s statutory scheme surrounding hiring, evaluation, and termination processes. Should you have any questions regarding these or other education law matters, you should seek the counsel of an experienced school law practitioner. Please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.


[1] “Teacher Tenure Law,” by the Connecticut General Assembly. April 22, 2002: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2002/olrdata/ed/rpt/2002-r-0469.htm

Dismissal Process for Nontenured Teachers

Should you have any questions regarding these or other education law matters, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at Maya Murphy, P.C. by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

Dismissal Process

Nontenured teachers have many of the same termination rights as tenured teachers. But they can also be dismissed by simple nonrenewal of their contracts, if they are notified by April 1. If a teacher files a written request, the board must supplement the nonrenewal notice with a written statement of its reasons for nonrenewal within seven days of receiving the request.

Nontenured teachers may be “bumped” by tenured teachers whose positions are eliminated. Bumping must occur in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement or, if there is none, with a written policy of the board.

Nontenured teachers dismissed because their positions were eliminated or they were bumped have no right to a hearing. Otherwise, like a tenured teacher, a nontenured teacher has 20 days after receiving notice of nonrenewal or termination to file a written request for a hearing, either before the board or, if the hearing request specifies it and the board designates, an impartial hearing panel appointed as described above. The hearing must begin within 15 days of the request, unless the parties agree to an extension of not more than 15 days, and must be conducted in the same way as a tenured teacher’s hearing.

Unlike tenured teachers, nontenured teachers cannot appeal board decisions to Superior Court unless the dismissal is for moral misconduct or disability.

Court Appeals

If a teacher appeals a dismissal to Superior Court, the court must treat it as a privileged case and hear it as soon as practicable. The board must file the hearing transcript and other relevant documents with the court. The court must review the record and allow the parties to introduce new evidence if equitable disposition of the case requires it. The court may affirm or reverse the board’s decision but is not allowed to assess costs against the board unless it finds the board acted with gross negligence, malice, or bad faith. [1]

As a teacher, it is imperative that you understand Connecticut’s statutory scheme surrounding hiring, evaluation, and termination processes. Should you have any questions regarding these or other education law matters, you should seek the counsel of an experienced school law practitioner. Please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

This case was not handled by our firm. However, if you have any questions regarding this case, or any employment law matter, please contact Joseph Maya at 203-221-3100 or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.


[1] “Teacher Tenure Law,” by the Connecticut General Assembly. April 22, 2002: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2002/olrdata/ed/rpt/2002-r-0469.htm