What is a "Rice" letter in education?

Answer

A "Rice" letter is an official document that notifies a teacher his position is being reviewed by the New Jersey Board of Education. The "Rice" notice is the result of the New Jersey Open Hearings Act, which states that although personnel hearings are held in closed session, the employee has a right to know what is being discussed.

A "Rice" notice doesn't conclude an employees participation in a hearing. Employees have a right to a public session, in which their personnel file is publicly discussed. Employees may also opt for a "Donaldson" hearing, in which the teacher can petition for his position with the Board. However, the employee must respond to the "Rice" notice to give the Board adequate time to accommodate the alternate request.

It is important to remember that the "Rice" notice is intended to protect non-tenured employees from secretive or surprise disciplinary action. A "Rice" letter doesn't necessarily mean that the employee's position is being reviewed for termination; absences, inefficiency or even complaints from students and their families may warrant a review of the teacher's position. Any discussion that may result in a change of the teacher's employment, including salary or disciplinary action, requires a "Rice" letter.

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