Backgrounder - Tenure

Teacher tenure is under fire in Lansing, where some lawmakers want to completely dismantle state law to deny educators due process rights in discipline and dismissal proceedings. Proposals vary – from repealing tenure law altogether to changing key aspects of it. However, a Republican-led effort in the state House described as a “teacher quality package” is misleading and overreaching. The package – House Bills 4625, 4626, 4627, and 4628 – would effectively dismantle tenure AND collective bargaining. This legislation is on the fast track, so don’t delay in contacting legislators or sharing this information with your colleagues or others. MEA strongly OPPOSES these bills. Read our A+ Agenda for tenure reform that MEA supports.

A key aspect of this legislation would eliminate “just cause” protections and instead simply prohibit discharge for “arbitrary and capricious” reasons. If this change becomes law, it could be possible for a district to fire a teacher who is unmarried and pregnant, or to discharge a teacher who happens to be gay.

Here’s what you need to know about the legislation:

House Bill 4625 (Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Brighton) amends the Tenure Act to do the following:

  • Increases probationary period from four to five full years.
  • Replaces 60-day notice with “end of school year “notice to a probationary teacher as to whether their work is satisfactory.
  • Allows probationary teacher to be dismissed at any time.
  • Requires probationary teacher to be dismissed if he/she has been rated ineffective on two performance evaluations within a school year.
  • Gives the local school board authority to determine format and number of classroom observations.
  • Eliminates assumption of satisfactory performance if an evaluation is not conducted.
  • Allows a tenured teacher to be returned to probationary status if he/she is not rated effective or better on the two most recent performance evaluations.
  • Requires dismissal of a teacher who fails to have an effective rating on two consecutive performance evaluations.
  • Establishes a limit of one probationary period.
  • Mandates annual evaluation.

House Bill 4626 (Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc) amends the Tenure Act to do the following:

  • Redefines demotion to mean a suspension without pay for 20 or more consecutive days or reduced compensation equivalent to 40 days.
  • Replaces “reasonable and just cause” with “not arbitrary and capricious” for teacher tenure discharge.

House Bill 4627 (Rep. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage) revises the School Code to do the following:

  • Requires school board policy to provide for the placement of teachers based on mutual consent of the teacher and principal.
  • Ensures that a principal has the authority to select teachers who have demonstrated effectiveness and who have appropriate qualifications.
  • Requires that a teacher be placed on unpaid leave if a mutually agreed assignment cannot be reached to within 30 days.
  • Requires evaluation system to include ratings of Highly Effective, Effective, Minimally Effective and Ineffective.
  • Prohibits the use of seniority in the reduction of staff unless all factors are equal.
  • Requires that during a staff reduction a teacher’s effectiveness must be considered, which includes individual performance as a major factor, increased student achievement as a predominant factor, demonstrated pedagogical skills, significant contributions above the normal expectation, demonstrated record of exceptional performance and relevant special training other than professional development or continuing education.

House Bill 4628 (Rep. Ken Yonker, R-Caledonia) amends the Public Employment Relations Act and adds the following prohibited subjects of bargaining:

  • Decisions about the development, content, standards, procedures, adoption and implementation of personnel policies and decisions for:
  •  the placement of teachers; 
  •  personnel  decisions of all employees;
  • elimination of positions, recall, and hiring after a reduction;
  • evaluation systems;
  • discharge and discipline;
  • number of observations or format of classroom observations;
  • method of compensation and performance based compensation.