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Administrative judge dismisses a tenured New Jersey teacher

Tenure is a delicate subject. It has a lofty goal: serving the best interests of students while offering teachers employment protection. In practice, however, tenure may become a point of contention between school administrators and teachers’ unions.

Christopher Cerf, New Jersey’s education commissioner, has recently dismissed a tenured teacher. The dismissal arose from an incident involving a 13-year-old special education student nearly four years ago. The teacher allegedly struck a special education student with a power cord. According to the teacher, the act was in self-defense and he only accidentally hit the boy.

Notably, the teacher had already been acquitted of a criminal charge stemming from the incident. Nevertheless, Commissioner Cerf determined that the teacher should be dismissed, notwithstanding his tenure, characterizing the teacher’s actions as “cruel and vicious.” The commissioner pointed to a videotape that he says contradicted the statements.

The teacher is permitted to appeal the Commissioner’s ruling to an appeals court. No appeal has yet been announced.

A person’s job not only brings in income that is necessary to pay monthly bills and purchase day-to-day needs, but a career often defines a person. When an individual is fired from a job based on trumped up accusations it can ruin their reputation, have an effect on future employment opportunities, cause a loss of income and leave a hole in his or her life. If you feel that you have been wrongfully terminated from your job, you have the right to stand up and fight for your rights and interests.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “NJ teacher dismissed 4 years after hitting student,” The Associated Press, May 8, 2012

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