Education, teacher, tenure, public k 12 schools


This study examined the legal issues of teacher tenure in public K-12 schools in the United States. Included in this study is a review of the pertinent case law as it pertains to teacher tenure as well as a conclusive review, analysis, and summary of all relevant state statutes concerning teacher tenure in the United States. The federal statutes that influence state teacher tenure laws are also included in this study. Teacher tenure in public K-12 schools was originally derived from the Pendleton Civil Service Act of 1883, which provided job protections to federal civil service employees. The National Education Association (NEA) lobbied for teachers to be included in this law, and in 1909, New Jersey became the first state to offer tenure protections to public school teachers. Over the next century, every state in the union adopted similar laws and provided job protections to public school teachers. These laws have included the number of probationary years a teacher must work in order to earn tenure, the reasons a tenured teacher can be terminated, and the due process required in the event that a tenured teacher should require termination. In recent years, however, states have begun to alter or remove the tenure laws. Florida, Idaho, and Mississippi have already removed tenure protections for new teachers. Several states have bills moving through the state house and senate asking legislators to continue the elimination of tenure across the country. This study makes conclusions about the current state of tenure laws in the United States and the federal laws that are causing rapid changes in tenure legislation across the country. This study also makes conclusions from relevant research and case law about the legitimacy of further changes to teacher tenure legislation. This study makes recommendations to school officials and iv legislators about teacher tenure and its value within the school system, as well as how they might eliminate the flaws in the process that are driving the legislative changes.


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Graduation Date





Murray, Kenneth


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance


Teaching, Learning, and Leadership

Degree Program

Educational Leadership; Previous Leadership Certification








Release Date

August 2012

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education, Education -- Dissertations, Academic