Although the term “tenure” cannot be found in state law regarding public school teachers, the rigorous procedures for firing a teacher with three or more years seniority remain. In the rare cases where school districts pursue the effort to terminate the contract of a teacher for incompetence or behavior issues, legal costs for the district (and ultimately the taxpayers) often exceed $100,000 over many months or even years of proceedings.

The first three years of a teacher’s employment before (s)he receives statutory job protections are known as the probationary period. Until recently, Jeffco Public Schools (Colorado’s largest school district) had a unique provision granting special job protections to probationary teachers. Independence Institute research helped lead to school officials negotiating away the harmful provision in 2007.

In 2010 the Colorado General Assembly passed Senate Bill 191, which among other things requires teachers to prove their effectiveness for three consecutive years in order to obtain tenure-like protections and declares teachers with two consecutive years of ineffective evaluations to forfeit those protections.

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