The Grievance Process
Learn more about the grievance process.
What is a grievance?
A grievance is a formal complaint that school
district employees can file with the district. The
grievance process is an internal dispute resolution
system in which an employee can address a problem or
concern by filing a written complaint and being
heard at each level of the district’s
administration. Filing a grievance is not the same
as filing a lawsuit. A grievance is primarily a
means for employees to get the attention of their
administration, to ensure that problems are noticed
and to give the district an opportunity to deal with
Should I file a grievance?
Most employment concerns can be resolved without filing a
formal grievance. However, sometimes informal consultation
and negotiation are not enough to reach a solution that is
acceptable to the employee. To address those situations,
the Texas Constitution grants all public employees the
right to grieve any “condition of their work.” Examples include
the failure of a district to correct errors in pay,
reassignment to a class or grade level for which an educator is not certified, unprofessional behavior from a
supervisor that interfered with an employee’s work, and
responses to disciplinary action taken against an educator.
Does my school district have a
grievance policy? If so, where can I get a copy?
Each school district is required to have a grievance
policy that must be made available to you as an employee and
open to the public under the Texas Public Information Act.
It might be included in your employee handbook or in other
information you received when you were hired. If you have
not been given a copy, you can obtain one from your campus
or district administrative office.
Can I file a grievance about [insert your problem]?
You have the right to complain about any condition of your
work. This means that you can only grieve about a
situation that affects you or your employment. For
example, if you need to complain as a parent, you could
not use the employee grievance process.
Filing a grievance might not be the
correct approach to resolving all your employment-related
problems, either, as there might be other processes for
resolving appraisal disputes, contract terminations
and nonrenewals. If you have these concerns, you should
begin with the specific processes provided in district
policy. In most cases, you can move on to the grievance
process if your concerns are not resolved.
Can someone retaliate against me for
filing a grievance?
Retaliation for exercising your constitutional right to
grieve is prohibited by law. Such retaliation might be the
subject of an additional grievance.
How does the grievance process work?
Your district’s grievance process is outlined in detail in
district policy. However, such policies will commonly instruct
you to submit your grievance in writing to a certain
administrator and state that there will be a meeting to
determine if the district can resolve your grievance at
this first level. The policy also describes the process
for appeal if your grievance is not resolved to your
satisfaction at the first level. You are legally entitled to
representation throughout the grievance process.
Where do I start if I want to file a
The first steps are to obtain a copy of your district’s
grievance policy and to review it carefully to ensure that
you do not omit any required procedures or steps. Missing
a deadline or skipping a step may be cause to dismiss the
grievance, so check deadlines carefully. Next, find out if
your district provides a form on which the complaint must
be submitted. If it has one, complete the grievance form
and submit it to the appropriate administrator. Eligible ATPE members may contact the Member Legal
Services Department at (800) 777-ATPE for advice and assistance.
The legal information provided on this website is for general purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for
individual legal advice or the provision of legal services. Accessing this information does not create an
attorney-client relationship. Individual legal situations vary greatly and readers should consult directly with an
attorney. Eligible ATPE members should contact the ATPE Member Legal Services Department using our
online system, MLSIS.
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