New Jersey Assembly Democrats:Assembly Democratic Measure Asserting Request by Newark School District to Bypass Seniority from Teacher Layoff Criteria Encroaches on Legislative Authority Clears Assembly

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Assembly Democratic Measure Asserting Request by Newark School District to Bypass Seniority from Teacher Layoff Criteria Encroaches on Legislative Authority Clears Assembly

Measure sponsored by Caputo, Diegnan, Tucker, Pintor-Marin, Spencer, Jasey, Oliver, Giblin & Speaker Prieto addresses seniority waiver request that would affect the planned layoffs of more than 1,000 teachers in the Newark Public School District
(TRENTON) - A resolution sponsored by Assembly Democrats denouncing a request by the State District Superintendent of the Newark Public School District to bypass seniority in planned teacher layoffs, as an attempt to usurp the Legislature's authority has been approved by the Assembly.

The resolution is sponsored by Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex), Eliana Pintor-Marin (D-Essex), Grace Spencer (D-Essex), Mila Jasey (D-Essex/Morris), Sheila Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic), Thomas Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic) and Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson). It was approved 44-24-2 during the Feb. 27 Assembly voting session.

The resolution (AR-91) maintains that the seniority waiver request is an attempt to usurp the authority of the Legislature, since state law clearly states that employee dismissals must be based solely on seniority. The resolution further states that the Commissioner of Education has no authority to grant a school district such a relief from statutory requirements, and that any change in the criteria for school district employee dismissal requires review and consideration by the Legislature.

The sponsors issued the following statement concerning the measure:

"The fact remains that the Legislature established seniority as the basis for the dismissal of school employees in the event of a reduction in force. While we understand the need to address the budgetary crisis faced by the school district, it should be done in accordance with state law.

"Despite the plain language of this statute, the State District Superintendent of the Newark School District has submitted an application to the Commissioner of Education requesting a waiver of the seniority rules. Under the application, the superintendent is essentially asking to upend a set of rules that have been effective in fairly managing staff reductions since the law was passed in 1909.

"We maintain that under the law, any changes to the criteria used to determine the dismissal of school district employees in the event of a reduction in force is the prerogative of the Legislature, and any revisions deemed necessary must be evaluated and considered by the Legislature.

"Any attempt to circumvent statutory law is an usurpation of legislative authority.

"The teachers who face termination are entitled to due process. The very nature of this request shows a lack of respect for teachers, administrators, students and parents."

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