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Board of Education may tweak tenure rules for state college professors

The State Board of Education is in the process of updating its rules regarding cotinuing contracts, a type of tenure awarded to community and state college professors. Among other things, the rule would allow full-time faculty to be hired without them being eligible for a continuing contract, and it also requires reviews of all continuing contracts every three years.

That concerns the United Faculty of Florida, which says the state is trying to fix a system that isn't broken.

"As I see this rule, it’s unnecessary," said Ed Mitchell, executive director of the union representing higher education faculty. "The local boards of trustee for 50 years have been deciding the criteria and whom to award a continuing contract to. And again it's not broken.” 

Randy Hanna, chancellor of state Department of Education's Division of Florida Colleges, said state college presidents have been working on updating the continuing contract rules for nearly a year.

Republican members of the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott have talked about changing or even ending tenure for college and university professors, but have not been successful in getting a bill passed. By contrast, in 2011 they passed a law that ended tenure for K-12 teachers.

Hanna said the rule under development simply allows community and state colleges more flexibility in how instructors are hired and evaluated.

"We think that it’s a good rule that provides some accountability and some structure but at the same time allows some decisions to be made by the local boards of trustees within the parameters that we’ve set," he said.

A hearing on the proposed continuing contract rule will be held on Nov. 29 at 1 p.m. at Seminole State College in Heathrow. Hanna said he expects to present a final version of the rule to the state Board of Education in early 2013.

Download Continuing Contract Rule Hearing Notice