Frequently Asked Questions
How many sick days/personal days do I receive?
You receive ten sick days per year. You receive three personal days per year. Your personal days are automatically converted to sick days at the end of each contractual year. This is done on a 1:1 basis. You either use the Source4Teachers websiteor use the phone number, 1-800-942-3767. Make sure you announce whether you are taking a sick day or personal day, or you may be docked for the day’s pay.
Are there any conditions present on my usage of personal days?
Personal days can not usually be taken in June or on the day before or after a holiday without approval from administration. Also, the form must be submitted at least two days in advance.
Do I need to tell the Administration why I am taking a personal day? Should I fill out a reason on the absence form?
Not usually. Be advised, however, that administration has the right to refuse to grant a personal day.
What happens if I inadvertently use more sick days or personal days than I have in my bank?
You will be docked pay. It is your responsibility to know this and keep track.
Who keeps track of my sick days and personal days?
The Administration keeps track. But you need to do so also. You will be notified at the beginning of each year how many sick days/personal days you have accrued for that year. If you disagree, be sure you have the documentation to validate and respond immediately.
How many days am I allowed for the death of an immediate family member?
The contract states you are allowed five days.
How many days do I get for the death of an aunt, uncle or in-law?
Three consecutive days.
What is the procedure for applying for a bereavement day?
You must fill out a form. You must provide proof of the person’s death. If you have difficulty getting it approved, talk to one of your building’s ARs
I’m a new teacher to but I’ve taught previously and I accumulated sick days in my previous district. Will Bridgeton honor these sick days?
This has not been the practice here at Bridgeton. You do not carry any previously accumulated sick days from another school district.
What happens if I don’t use my personal days?
If you don’t use them, they are converted into sick days and saved.
What if I don’t want to pay to join the BEA?
We are a fee payer’s association. If you choose not to join, you will still pay 85% of our members’ yearly fees. You will lose certain benefits afforded to others who are full members. This is called a “closed shop.”
Are my dues dollars spent for political purposes? What is PAC?
NJEA PAC is the New Jersey Education Association Political Action Committee. It is a legal mechanism through which our Association provides financial support to political candidates for state office. PAC is power! NJEA PAC provides us with the power to shape our profession, protect our benefits, and promote public education. All NJEA PAC funds are raised from the voluntary contributions of our members. NJEA cannot use dues money to support PAC. Therefore, it is up to you to turn on the power!
What is tenure?
Teacher tenure is an employment security device by which the teacher attains permanent status and protection against dismissal except for just cause. You must successfully complete a probationary period of three full years plus one day. For more information on this topic, contact one of your building’s ARs.
Do I have the proper certification?
Most new teachers in New Jersey are hired with either a Certificate of Eligibility (CE) or a Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS). Once hired, they must apply for and get a Provisional Certificate. During their first year, they are evaluated three times on state forms which are copied and sent to the Department of Education. This applies to new classroom teachers but not to most non-classroom practitioners such as social workers or guidance counselors. It is very important that the district register all new classroom teachers who hold either the CE or CEAS for the provisional program and that the teachers apply for and receive their provisional certificate. The teacher is prohibited by statute from teaching until they have the appropriate certificate. Their required year of provisional service and mentoring begins only after they are registered with the State. Visit http://www.state.nj.us/njded/educators/license for more information.
What is my PGP?
Under the teacher evaluation regulations, the “individual professional growth plan” (PIP) is a written statement of actions developed by the supervisor and the teaching staff member to correct deficiencies or to continue professional growth, timelines for their implementation, and the responsibilities of the individual teaching staff member and the district for implementing the plan.” [N.J.A.C. 6:3-4.3 (h) (3)] The PIP was instituted in 1978 as part of the regulations governing New Jersey tenured teacher evaluation regulations and the evaluation’s annual summary conference. It was subsequently mandated for nontenured teachers as well.
Can a PGP be imposed on me?
Yes. An administrator can impose a PGP, either on an individual or a staff. In that case, the principal is responsible for offering ways to help the individual(s) meet the goals of the PGP.
What is the 100-hour professional development requirement?
On May 6, 1998, the New Jersey State Board of Education adopted a plan requiring all school personnel – tenured and nontenured alike – who hold instructional licenses or educational services licenses (guidance counselors, nurses, school psychologists, etc.) to complete 100 hours of continuing education every five years, starting Sept. 1, 2000. Your Professional Improvement Plan (PIP) must cite all professional development (PD) experiences in order for those experiences to count toward your 100 hours.
What if I want to do something else for my PGP and my principal imposes one on me?
You are always free to add to your PGP. A PGP is a living document. It can be amended at anytime for almost any reason.
What if I miss deadlines for paperwork due?
It will then be the Administration’s right to deny you what you sought until the next deadline comes due. This includes horizontal moves, payment for classes, clubs, etc. Always check the contract for deadlines for paperwork that is due. Many people get snagged on this. What’s the story with doctor’s notes for absences? Our practice has been that no note will be asked for until three consecutive sick days in a row have occurred. This doesn’t mean, however, that the administration can’t ask for a note before that time if they suspect someone is abusing sick day policy. This might happen if you are out of school every Friday.
What about tuition reimbursement?
Maximum amounts are stipulated in the contract. To be eligible you must have completed one year of employment in the district.
Can I take whatever class I choose?
Courses must be approved by the Superintendent prior to registration. Courses must be related to the employee’s area of instruction, specialty, related educational field or work duties in the district.
How do we know how much money we can receive for tuition reimbursement?
Tuition reimbursement comes from a set pool of money, depending on the number of people requesting reimbursement. You may or may not get the entire amount. It will be prorated accordingly.
Can I be forced to attend a meeting during my lunch?
You are entitled to a 40 minute lunch each day. If there is a meeting during your normally scheduled lunch time, attend the meeting and the principal of the building will assign you a different time for your lunch
Can I be transferred to another school against my will?
Yes. Involuntary transfers are nonnegotiable. However, our contract states that all disciplinary acts are subject to the grievance process. If you can prove that you’ve been transferred for a disciplinary reason, the grievance process would be open to you.
Do I have any rights with regard to an involuntary transfer?
You have a right to meet with the Superintendent to discuss the pending decision before the transfer or reassignment is finalized.
Do I ever have recourse if I seem to always be the one asked to substitute?
Probably not. But we’d like to know so we can report it to the Administration.
Do I have to attend evening conferences if I am a specialist and no parents schedule appointments with me?
Absolutely yes! You must be there if some parent wants to stop in and talk to you.
I do not like what a student’s IEP states I need to do. Can I ignore it or change it?
Absolutely not. This would put you in the position of perhaps being personally liable should there be litigation. You can put in writing to your supervisors what you think the problem is and ask for an IEP review to discuss what is in the IEP and to add any changes you would lilke to implement.
Classes for my special education children are at times when I am called to substitute for a teacher who is absent and there are no real subs available. Am I violating the child’s IEP? Am I personally responsible?
The ultimate responsibility for meeting an IEP is the principal’s. If you are told to cover someone else’s class, you must do that. You will not be responsible. If you willfully disregard an IEP, there are circumstances under which you may be held liable. The key phrase being: willfully disregard.
What is my file and where is it kept?
You have a file at the Bank St. Administration Building. Nothing may go in that file that you are not aware of. Any memo you receive must have on it “cc file” if that’s where it is going.
Can my principal keep a file on me?
Absolutely. Your principal probably does if you are nontenured. What if I want to see my file? You notify personnel at Bank St. stating that you would like to see your file. They must respond and allow you to do so. When is a half-day a half-day? Inservice days and the last half- days of school are true half-days. You can be out in the morning and attend in the afternoon. Or vice versa. On conference days, and the day before the winter holiday (when it is a half -day), a half-day is two hours, either the first two hours of the morning or the last two hours of the morning.
My supervisor/principal came to me and asked me to do some extra work. My supervisor/principal said we could work this out just the two of us. I was offered comp time (money, etc.) and I could use what was offered. Is this okay?
Absolutely and positively not. We can tell you of so many members that were burned by this. The Administration cannot bargain with you individually. You cannot bargain with the Administration individually. If what you’re doing is not in the contract or if you’re being offered something outside the parameters of the contract, you need to call us that very instant.
My supervisor/principal told me to do something I don’t want to do or I don’t think I should have to do. Can I call the superintendent or someone over my supervisor’s head? Can I ignore what my supervisor told me? Do not break the chain of command. Do not go over your supervisor’s head. Call us for an opinion. You can never ignore what you are told to do by a supervisor unless it endangers your physical safety. This would be insubordination. Under normal circumstances you would do what was asked and then call us. The grievance process exists for this reason.
What do I do if I know my principal/supervisor has told me to do something I know is a violation of my contractual rights?
If it is not a security or life threatening issue, you do what you are told. Insubordination is not acceptable. Then you call us and we grieve.
What happens after this meeting if the Administration doesn’t agree with me and decides I need to be reprimanded or disciplined?
All such acts are open to the grievance procedure.
What are Weingarten rights?
I was handed a memo by my principal that reprimanded me for actions I had supposedly taken. This had never been discussed with me previously. The letter states “cc: file” (or “cc: supervisor”) on it. Is this legal? Not at all. Just cause has not been provided to you in this situation. If the Administration feels it has cause to discipline or reprimand you, it is their obligation to first address this issue to you. You must have representation. At this meeting, you get a chance to present your side.
I’m a certificated person. I work in a specific job. Can I be asked to substitute or cover for someone who is absent, in a field that I may not know much about, when the district is pressed for a substitute?
What if a supervisor intimates to me that I have some weaknesses in my performance I need to correct but not to go to the BEA? What if my supervisor leads me to believe that I will be better off if I just don’t contact the BEA?
That’s one of the biggest “no no”s imaginable. It’s not just a contract violation, it’s a violation of labor law. If a supervisor/principal thinks you’re better off without the intervention of the BEA, that automatically means you must call us.