On June 7, a law was enacted continuing the changes made to the tenure and the APPR performance review process for teachers and principals enacted during the early stages of COVID-19 pandemic period. School districts should take note.

Succinctly, during the 2019-2020 school year, the pandemic created practical impossibilities for completing APPR performance reviews due to the in-person nature of the process and the inability to observe. This obstacle was problematic for teachers and principals in their final probationary year awaiting tenure. APPRs were waived and tenure was granted for individuals who had previously received favorable reviews, even without that last observation.

Unfortunately, the difficulties caused by the pandemic continued into the 2020-2021 school year. To combat these challenges, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Chapter 112 to ease the continuing burden on school districts. The new law again waives APPR evaluations for this current school year. The primary changes are summarized as follows:

  • Sections 1, 2, and 4-10 amend various provisions of the Education law by allowing teachers and principals who were appointed in the 2017-18, 2018-19, or 2019-20 school years to be eligible for tenure if they received either an “effective” or “highly effective” composite APPR rating in at least one of the last four years. These individuals would not be eligible for tenure if they received an “ineffective” rating in the final year of his or her probationary period, or during the most recent school year where a rating was received;
  • These sections also provide that teachers who achieved tenure in a prior school district, and moved to a new school district during the 2020-21 school year, be appointed to a three-year probationary period provided he or she received an APPR rating in either of the 2017-18 or 2018-19 school years; and,
  • Section 3 waives the requirement of conducting APPR evaluations for the 2020-21 school year, and ensures that state aid will not be withheld as a result.

These statutory changes are effective immediately and should alleviate the continuing impact on schools due to the pandemic.

This alert does not purport to be a substitute for advice of counsel on specific matters.

Harris Beach has offices throughout New York State, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, Long Island, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse and White Plains, as well as New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.