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Tenure: Top ten issues (from Education MN site)

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Tenure: The top 10 issues -
Minn. Stat. 122A.40 & 122A.41
[from Education MN website]


Note: The protections of these statutes do not apply to ECFE teachers (even though they should be in the bargaining unit), charter school teachers, or ESP members. In order for these personnel to obtain the type of protections discussed below, the union must bargain them.

Note: 'Continuing Contract Rights' are essentially equivalent to 'Tenure Rights.' Because the two terms identify the same legal concept, they are used interchangeably by the courts. However, Minnesota Statute 122A.40 uses the term 'continuing contract' when it provides rights to all teachers except those teaching in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth (cities of the first class), and Minnesota Statute 122A.41 uses the term 'tenure' to refer to these rights for teachers teaching in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth.

 1.    A probationary teacher can be an excellent teacher and still be



Ÿ  The school board has 'total discretion.'

Ÿ  Although the statute requires 3 evaluations per year, the courts have demanded only 'substantial compliance.'

Ÿ  The nonrenewal must be completed by July 1.


2.    The 3 consecutive years required for completion of a probationary period can consist of part-time service, but must be consecutive.


A probationary teacher, however, must work a minimum of 60 days in each year during the probationary period.


Ÿ   The court has ruled that if you teach for two consecutive years, take a one-year leave of absence and then return for two more years, you have not completed 3 consecutive years of teaching experience.

Ÿ   Long-term substitute teaching years can count toward the completion of a probationary period, if the teacher teaches for the full school year.


3.     Even if you are nonrenewed after 3 consecutive years of teaching in one district (and are not offered a fourth contract), you have completed  your probationary period and will only have a one-year probationary period in the next district (if it is not a city of the first class district).


Ÿ  The Minnesota School Boards Association agrees with this interpretation.

Ÿ   Teachers will likely not challenge the failure to grant continuing contract status under these circumstances until a lay off or nonrenewal issue arises in the new district.


4.     Under the statute (and if your collective bargaining agreement does not provide anything different), your seniority date is your first day of actual service in the district.


Ÿ   Many contracts have language restricting when you can challenge your seniority date. You should pay attention to this before it becomes an issue.

Ÿ   Under the statute, part-time teachers accrue a full year of seniority—but they only have bumping rights to a part-time position.


5.     Under the statute, continuing contract teachers should be placed on unrequested leave of absence (ULA) in the fields in which they are licensed in the inverse order in which they were employed.


Ÿ   Districts may place teachers on ULA for discontinuance of position, lack of pupils, financial limitations, or merger of classes caused by consolidation of districts.

Ÿ   A teacher who has acquired continuing contract rights must not be placed on unrequested leave of absence while probationary teachers are retained in positions for which the continuing contract teacher is licensed.

Ÿ   Unions and districts are also permitted to bargain their own lay off provisions. They often will prohibit 'Stranding'—forcing a teacher more senior than the teacher proposed for layoff to teach in a different licensure area so that a teacher less senior can be laid off. 

6.     You are entitled to seniority in all of your areas of licensure and may also be eligible to bump into positions that require no specific license.

Ÿ  This is true even if you have never taught with a certain license (unless you bargain something different).

Ÿ   Examples of non-specific positions include: graduation standards coordinator, teacher on special assignment, dean of students, etc.

7.    Continuing contracts may only be modified by mutual consent.

Ÿ   If the District asks you to reduce your contract voluntarily—REFUSE. You are entitled to recall rights for the portion of your position that must be reduced.

Ÿ   You must resign by April 1 if you do not intend to return for the next school year. This date is extended to July 15 in bargaining years (unless your contract is settled prior to June 15).

8.     If a district proposes you for non-immediate discharge, the final action must be completed by April 1. The district must also notify you that you are entitled to an arbitration hearing.

Ÿ   Grounds for non-immediate discharge include: inefficiency; neglect of duty, or persistent violation of school laws, rules, regulations, or directives; conduct unbecoming a teacher which materially impairs the teacher’s educational effectiveness; other good and sufficient grounds rendering the teacher unfit to perform the teacher’s duties.

Ÿ   Prior to terminating a teacher on any of the above grounds, the district must give the teacher written notice of the specific items of complaint and reasonable time within which to remedy them. 

9.    You may also be terminated immediately for these grounds:

Ÿ   Immoral conduct, insubordination, or conviction of a felony; conduct unbecoming a teacher which requires the immediate removal of the teacher from classroom or other duties; failure without justifiable cause to teach without first securing the written release of the school board; gross inefficiency which the teacher has failed to correct after reasonable written notice; willful neglect of duty; or continuing physical or mental disability subsequent to 12 months leave of absence and inability to qualify for reinstatement.

Ÿ  You are also entitled to an arbitration hearing under this scenario.

Note:  See 'The top five reasons for discipline' also found on this web site. [limited access to this page]


10. The district must expunge from your file any material that is found to be false or inaccurate (through the grievance procedure).

Ÿ  All evaluations and files generated about you must be made available to you upon written request.

Ÿ  You have the right to make copies of those documents at your own expense.

Ÿ  You also have the right to submit for inclusion in your file any written responses to the material contained therein.

Education Minnesota – Legal Department Disclaimer

Information contained on our website is published for general information and educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice or an offer to give legal advice. We cannot accept direct requests for legal advice or offer specific legal advice over the Internet. If you have a specific member rights question, talk to your member rights representative or call your Education Minnesota Field Staff.


Re: Minneapolis public schools, board candidates, & the 2006 election