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Eligible ATPE members may contact ATPE legal staff with employment-related legal questions or inquiries.

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Employees beginning work with a new district often believe that they have been hired for a specific position and that they will always be entitled to hold that position until they retire or resign from the district.  So it is often an unwelcome shock when word comes down that job assignments are being changed.  Can employees insist on staying in their current positions?

The reality is that most employees can be reassigned to different jobs, whether that be a bus driver who gets a different route, a school secretary who is moved to another campus, or a teacher moved from one grade level to another.  If you are given a reassignment that you would rather not have, the first thing to do is check your contract (if you have one) and see if it specifies a particular assignment.  If it does, then the district must keep you in that assignment.  If your contract does not state a specific assignment, or if you do not have a contract, check your district and campus policies to see if there are any written guidelines the district must follow when making reassignments.  If there are, read them carefully to see that they were followed properly.

In rare instances, there might be evidence that a reassignment has been made for an illegal reason, which could include retaliation for filing a grievance, or the gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability or age of the employee.  Generally, if the reassignment is made primarily because of one of these characteristics, then it is an illegal action.  If it is based in part on these factors, but the district can show that it would have reassigned the employee anyway for other valid reasons, then the reassignment is probably legal.

Even if the reassignment is legal, it may not be the best decision for you or the district.  Talk to your principal or supervisor and make sure he is aware of the specific reasons why you believe the reassignment would not be the best use of your talents.  If nothing else, this meeting might give you some insight into the reason(s) behind the decision. In any case, you may file a grievance to contest a reassignment.

Keep in mind, though, that as explained above, districts have a great deal of discretion in making reassignments, and, in most cases, the administration will have the last word on a proposed reassignment.  Employees who do not have contracts have greater flexibility in responding to unwelcome reassignments, but the additional choice they have is not necessarily a good one.  Employees without contracts are free to resign at any time and may avoid an unwelcome assignment by simply quitting. Employees under contract, however, have already agreed to work for the entire school year in whatever assignment the district chooses to place that employee, so long as it falls within the position description listed in the contract, and the employee is properly certified for that position.  Employees under contract to the district must complete the school year before they are free to resign.  If you are a contract employee, the best way to be prepared for change is to be very familiar with the details of your employment contract.

Are you being reassigned outside of your certification area?

School districts are required to fill all teaching assignments with people who are fully certified for them whenever possible. When it is necessary to fill an assignment with a person not certified in that area, the district must secure a temporary or emergency permit for the assigned individual. A teacher can refuse an assignment, but if the teacher's previous assignment no longer exists due to a reduction in force (RIF) or a program change, the teacher might face termination.  

Districts are also required by law to notify the parents of students who are in classes taught by teachers who are not certified for the assignment. This includes teachers on emergency and temporary permits. This law does not apply to teachers in alternative certification programs, on district permits or who are certified in another state and awaiting Texas certification. Districts must distribute this notice no later than 30 instructional days after the teacher begins the assignment.

Important note: Additional certification areas added by a teacher after Sept. 1, 1999, will be governed under the new renewable certificate rules, whether or not the person was certified to teach prior to this date. For example, Ms. Smith received her teaching certification in history in 1990, so her history certificate was grandfathered and is not governed under the renewable certificate system. However, Ms. Smith now wants to obtain a biology certificate as well. Because she will obtain her biology certification after Sept. 1, 1999, her biology certificate will be governed under the renewable certificate system.

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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