§ 16-16-1. Definitions.
(a) The following words and phrases used in this chapter, unless a different meaning is plainly required by the context, have the following meanings:
(1) "Active member" means any teacher as defined in this section for whom the retirement system is currently receiving regular contributions pursuant to §§ 16-16-22 and 16-16-22.1.
Except as otherwise provided in this section, the words and phrases used in this chapter, so far as applicable, have the same meanings as they have in chapters 8 to 10 of title 36.
(2) "Beneficiary" means any person in receipt of annuity, benefit, or retirement allowance from the retirement system as provided in this chapter.
(3) "Child" includes a stepchild of a deceased member who has been a stepchild for at least one year immediately preceding the date on which the member died or an adopted child of a deceased member without regard to the length of time the child has been adopted.
(4) "Former spouse divorced" means a person divorced from a deceased member, but only if the person meets one of the following conditions:
(i) Is the mother or father of the deceased member's child(ren);
(ii) Legally adopted the deceased member's child(ren) while married to the deceased member and while the child(ren) was under the age of eighteen (18) years; or
(iii) Was married to the deceased member at the time both of them legally adopted a child(ren) under the age of eighteen (18) years.
(5) "Member" means any person included in the membership of the retirement system under the provisions of this chapter.
(6) "Prior service" means service as a teacher rendered prior to the first day of July, 1949, certified on his or her prior service certificate and allowable as prior service under the provisions of this chapter.
(7) "Retired teacher" means any teacher who retired prior to July 1, 1949, pursuant to the provisions of G.L. 1938, ch. 195, as amended, and who on June 30, 1949, was in receipt of a pension under the provisions of that chapter.
(8) "Retirement system" and "system" means the employees' retirement system of the state of Rhode Island created by chapter 8 of title 36, and "retirement board" means the board established under that chapter.
(9) "Salary" or "compensation" includes any and all salary paid for teaching services regardless of whether any part of the salary or compensation is derived from any state or federal grant or appropriation for teachers' salaries, as the term is defined in § 36-8-1(8). "Average compensation" shall be defined in accordance with section 36-8-1(5)(a).
(10) "Service" means service as a teacher as described in subdivision (12) of this section. Periods of employment as teacher, principal, assistant principal, supervisor, superintendent, or assistant superintendent shall be combined in computing periods of service and employment.
(11) "Spouse" means the surviving person who was married to a deceased member, but only if the surviving person meets one of the following conditions:
(i) Was married to the deceased member for not less than one year immediately prior to the date on which the member died;
(ii) Is the mother or father of the deceased member's child(ren);
(iii) Legally adopted the deceased member's child(ren) while married to the deceased member and while the child(ren) was under the age of eighteen (18) years; or
(iv) Was married to the deceased member at the time both of them legally adopted a child(ren) under the age of eighteen (18) years.
(12) "Teacher" means a person required to hold a certificate of qualification issued by or under the authority of the board of regents for elementary and secondary education and who is engaged in teaching as his or her principal occupation and is regularly employed as a teacher in the public schools of any city or town in the state, or any formalized, commissioner approved, cooperative service arrangement. The term includes a person employed as a teacher, supervisor, principal, assistant principal, superintendent, or assistant superintendent of schools, director, assistant director, coordinator, consultant, dean, assistant dean, educational administrator, nurse teacher, and attendance officer or any person who has worked in the field of education or is working in the field of education that holds a teaching or administrative certificate. In determining the number of days served by a teacher the total number of days served in any public school of any city or town in the state may be combined for any one school year. The term also includes a school business administrator whether or not the administrator holds a teaching or administrative certificate, and also includes occupational therapists and physical therapists licensed by the department of health and employed by a school committee in the state, or by any formalized, commissioner approved, cooperative service arrangement.
(13) "Teaching" includes teaching, supervising, and superintending or assistant superintending of schools.
(14) "Total service" means prior service as defined in subdivision (6) of this section, plus service rendered as a member of the system on or after the first day of July, 1949.
(15) For purposes of this chapter, "domestic partner" shall be defined as a person who, prior to the decedent's death, was in an exclusive, intimate and committed relationship with the decedent, and who certifies by affidavit that their relationship met the following qualifications:
(i) Both partners were at least eighteen (18) years of age and were mentally competent to contract;
(ii) Neither partner was married to anyone else;
(iii) Partners were not related by blood to a degree which would prohibit marriage in the state of Rhode Island;
(iv) Partners resided together and had resided together for at least one year at the time of death; and
(v) Partners were financially interdependent as evidenced by at least two (2) of the following:
(A) Domestic partnership agreement or relationship contract;
(B) Joint mortgage or joint ownership of primary residence;
(C) Two (2) of: (I) joint ownership of motor vehicle; (II) joint checking account; (III) joint credit account; (IV) joint lease; and/or
(D) The domestic partner had been designated as a beneficiary for the decedent's will, retirement contract or life insurance.
(b) The masculine pronoun wherever used shall also include the feminine pronoun.
(c) Any term not specifically defined in this chapter and specifically defined in chapters 36-8 36-10 shall have the same definition as set forth in chapters 36-8 36-10.
(P.L. 1948, ch. 2101, § 1; impl. am. P.L. 1951, ch. 2752, § 21; P.L. 1951, ch. 2830, § 5; G.L. 1956, § 16-16-1; P.L. 1962, ch. 212, § 2; P.L. 1972, ch. 139, § 1; P.L. 1976, ch. 236, § 2; P.L. 1979, ch. 211, § 1; P.L. 1981, ch. 162, § 2; P.L. 1983, ch. 217, § 1; P.L. 1985, ch. 258, § 1; P.L. 1995, ch. 370, art. 15, § 1; P.L. 1996, ch. 384, § 1; P.L. 1998, ch. 411, § 2; P.L. 2001, ch. 86, § 36; P.L. 2002, ch. 383, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 510, § 6; P.L. 2011, ch. 408, § 10; P.L. 2011, ch. 409, § 10.)