"I'm Not Sure I Want to Come Back Next Year. What Do I Do with My Contract?"

“I am a teacher and just received my contract for next year. It says I only have two weeks to sign and return it. The problem is, I am not sure I want to come back next year. What should I do?”

Most teachers and other certified educators have a contract governed by Chapter 21 of the Texas Education Code. Chapter 21 provides that a teacher can resign, even if they have signed a contract for the upcoming school year, by following two easy steps:

  • Mailing written notice of resignation, certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the superintendent or school board, and
  • Mailing the notice at least 45 calendar days before the first instructional day of the upcoming school year.

Because this rule is based on the Texas Education Code, it normally does not apply to charter schools, so those employed with a contract by a charter school will need to review their contract and school policies. It is also possible that a school district could opt out of this legal provision as a part of its District of Innovation plan, though to date this is rare. 

Finally, many districts do incorporate a deadline for signing and returning the contract into the new contract itself, regularly stating that failure to act by the deadline constitutes a resignation of employment. This provision has never been directly challenged. It is unlikely to be enforceable if the teacher had a good reason for not returning the contract, such as not having received it or being unable to comply (for instance, due to a medical emergency such as being admitted to the hospital). But, because teachers can usually resign later, if they choose to, there is no reason not to just sign and return it, even if you think you might change your mind later.
 

The legal information provided here is accurate as of the date of publication. It is provided for general purposes only. Individual legal situations vary greatly, and readers needing individual legal advice should consult directly with an attorney. Eligible ATPE members may contact the ATPE Member Legal Services Department. April 2021.

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