TRENTON, NJ - Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. to increase the number of arbitrators on panel determining contested cases involving tenured employees in school districts was signed into law by the Governor on last week.

"This is a needed step toward creating a sustained process that does what's best for our children while balancing the protection of due process for our principals and teachers" said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). "This is a sensible adjustment to the tenure reform law that ensures a proper ratio of arbitrators to expeditiously handle cases. We, as a legislature, are continuing to streamline the process but are also ensuring fairness; which in the end means our children win."

The “Teacher Effectiveness and Accountability for the Children of New Jersey (TEACHNJ) Act,” P.L.2012, c.26 (C.18A:6-117 et al.), established binding arbitration for contested cases involving the dismissal or reduction in compensation of tenured employees in school districts.  TEACHNJ required the Commissioner of Education to maintain a panel of arbitrators to hear the cases.  This bill will increase the number of arbitrators on the panel from 25 to 50.  The New Jersey Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the New Jersey School Boards Association, and the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association designate arbitrators to the panel under TEACHNJ.  These bills will double the number of arbitrators designated by each entity.

The bill also alters the fee provision for the arbitrators and gives the Commissioner of Education the discretion to establish the amount to be received by the arbitrators. “Prompt and fair review of tenure issue cases is in the best interest of students, teachers, administrators and taxpayers” said Assemblyman Diegnan. “This law will enable that goal.”