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Gaining tenure is an important milestone. Tenure is a status that appointed pedagogues achieve after completing a probationary period with satisfactory service. Having tenure means you can’t be terminated without due process and you’re entitled to a hearing if the Department of Education takes disciplinary action This protects you from being fired for the personal or political objectives of a supervisor.

Under New York State law, public school teachers must serve a probationary period of four years and a day from the date of their appointment, although this can be reduced by prior service or extended if the tenure grade is in doubt. Upon completion of their probationary period, teachers are granted tenure, but the process is not automatic. 

To be granted tenure, you must:

  • Be recommended for tenure by your principal;
  • be granted tenure by your superintendent;
  • have a record of acceptable service during your probationary period; and
  • be on track to complete all your state certification and city licensing requirements.

As of the 2023 contract, the DOE will have to provide reasons, in writing, for the need to extend a UFT-represented employee’s probationary period if the employee makes a written request to their supervisor for an explanation. Principals can no longer extend someone’s probation without giving them any clue as to why.

If you are up for tenure and your principal asks you to agree to extend your probationary period, you should contact your chapter leader or a UFT representative to help ensure that your rights are protected. Even if you achieve tenure, failure to meet New York State certification requirements can lead to termination. 

There are steps you can take to prepare for your tenure decision:

  • Know your tenure date. To find it, check with your payroll secretary or principal. You may also verify your tenure status by requesting a Comprehensive Employment Verification Report. You’ll want to be proactive in meeting with your principal in advance of your tenure decision to review your work.
  • Confirm your license code matches the subject and level in which you are teaching. In New York City, tenure is granted in your license appointment area, and those pieces of information must match.

The Tenure Decision-Making Framework encourages principals and superintendents to review multiple measures of teacher effectiveness across three categories:

  • Student learning focuses on evidence of student growth as determined by New York State Standards.
  • Teacher practice focuses on teacher planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities.
  • Professionalism focuses on professional growth and reflection, collaboration and engagement with the school community, communication with families, management of non-instructional responsibilities and general professional conduct.

There are many ways you can organize this information. Some teachers choose to build tenure portfolios using binders organized into subsections where they store lesson plans, student work and assessments, observation reports, certificates from professional learning activities and other records. Other teachers recommend digital record-keeping, using online resources to organize files. Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud are all services you can use to store your work.

There are two ways to reduce your probationary period:

  • If you worked as a regular substitute in the same license and at the same school level, you can reduce the normal probationary period by up to two years. This is called Jarema Credit, and you should apply if you think you are eligible. The application form is online.
  • Another way to reduce your probationary period is called “traveling tenure.” If you received tenure from the DOE in one license area, or you were tenured in another New York State school district, you should apply to have your probationary period reduced by one year.

The DOE should reduce your probationary period automatically, but if you think you are eligible for Jarema Credit or traveling tenure and it hasn’t been recognized, you should apply.

If you think you are eligible for either of these options, or have any questions, please contact the union at 212-331-6311. The UFT regularly offers tenure workshops in its borough offices. Check the UFT events calendar for details.

See our FAQs about tenure for more information. 

Also see Disciplinary Actions and Chancellor's Regulation C-205.