July 1, 2014
By Jacqueline M. Litra
On June 13, 2014, House Bill 5546 was signed into law as Public Act 98-0648. This Amendatory Act is the most recent amendment to Senate Bill 7. The Act significantly amends the reduction in force procedures established in SB 7 by creating recall rights for certain teachers reduced from Group Two.
Now, if a school board has any vacancies from the beginning of the term following the reduction in force through February 1 of that term, such positions must be offered to qualified teachers dismissed from Group 2 with a “Needs Improvement” evaluation rating on either of their last two evaluations. If a teacher has more than one rating, the other rating must be proficient or better for recall rights to apply. These new recall rights do not apply to teachers rated “Unsatisfactory.” These changes apply to layoffs made during the 2013-2014 school year.
These recall rights apply to probationary teachers laid off from Group 2. Accordingly, it is important that school districts use the non-renewal process and not the layoff process for probationary teachers who are not making the cut.
The Act codifies the fact that only one evaluation rating each term may be used for determining the sequence of honorable dismissal. If there are multiple performance evaluations during a school year (other than evaluations as part of a remediation plan), the last evaluation before the sequence of honorable dismissal list is established will be the one evaluation used. School districts may only average multiple evaluation ratings without agreement from the union.
The Act also clarifies that the sequence of honorable dismissal list, which districts are required to provide to the union at least 75 days before the end of the school year, must include teachers by name and categorized by position and group.
Your attorneys at Scariano, Himes and Petrarca stand ready to assist you in navigating the ever-changing reduction in force procedures and your re-defined responsibilities under this Act.