A Vineland teacher caught running naked through an apartment complex on a dare is the first tenure case resolved under a new law designed to reduce the time it takes for such cases.
In the past, tenure cases had dragged on for a year or more.
Mark C. Bringhurst did lose his job, but representatives of both the state teacher’s union and the school boards association said the new procedure did protect his right of due process while resolving the case in a timely manner. It took less than four months from the time charges were filed with the state. [emphasis mine]
Apparently, this was the second time the guy was caught streaking, so it was time to go, even if it took place outside of school (yes, as a matter of fact, I do believe teachers should be held to a higher standard in their personal lives). Thanks to the provisions of the new NJ tenure law – which most closely matched the proposal put forward by the state’s largest teachers union, the NJEA – the hearing was fair and swift:
Bringhurst’s attorney, Robert Bowman, yesterday said he would not speak to the merits of the case or the arbitrator’s decision, nor did he say whether there would be an appeal. Under the law, an arbitrator’s decision can only be appealed on whether proper procedures were followed, not on the decision.
Bowman said he did not know it was TEACHNJ’s first decided case, but he was aware it was one of the early ones. “When I called about it, they said the law had just been signed,” Bowman said.
Still, the lawyer of 21 years had no complaints about the process, saying Gifford’s proceedings were timely and professional. Bowman hadn’t handled a tenure case before, but he was familiar with administrative law court and knew it could be plodding. The law called for this case to be decided within 45 days of the hearing, and it was.
“I thought it was handled very professionally and fairly,” Bowman said.
A spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association, which had a big stake in the new legislation, also would not speak to the specific case, but said the process seemed to work in this first example. The NJEA itself had initially proposed the expedited process of using arbitrators, almost a year before the law was enacted.
“The new law is designed to preserve fairness while making the process faster and less expensive,” said NJEA spokesman Steve Baker.
“We have not seen any evidence yet to indicate it is not working as intended,” he said. “We want the law to work, and we are watching to make sure that it does.
The railing of the corporate reformers against tenure has always been yelling at a straw man. There has never been a good reason for unions to want to drag out cases: they’re the ones who have to pay the lawyer’s fees. All anyone ever wanted was a fair hearing in front of an impartial third party. Now that we have that, everyone wins.
I don’t know what the reformies are going to do now that the Tenure Boogeyman has been shown to be a figment of their highly active imaginations. You can, however, rest assured that they’ll find something else that will get them all hot and bothered. After all, Campbell Brown and the other members of the Reformy Pearl Clutching Society pretty much live to be angry at teachers and unions and public schools. If it’s not the Tenure Boogeyman, it’ll be some other monster they just know is lurking in their closets.
What do you mean, I’m not scary anymore?!