ATPE News Magazine

Summer 2018 | Volume 38 | Issue 4

What Duties Can You Be Required to Perform?

Many educators take on different roles in addition to their primary duty. Some teachers coach. Others drive a bus. Still others participate in after-school or pre-STAAR Saturday tutoring sessions. Educators often wonder whether they can be required to perform a duty they do not want or be forced to give up a duty that they do want. The answer, for educators with employment contracts, lies in the interplay between the duty itself and the educator’s contract.

Can I Be Required to Tutor after School? Meet the “Additional Duties” Clause

Educator contracts universally state that the educator may be assigned “additional duties.” These are duties, like tutoring or attending department meetings, that (1) don’t take too much time, (2) are the kinds of things that an educator would generally expect to have to do, and (3) are not compensated for separately. The duties do not always have to be discussed before the assignment, as long as they are the type of tasks educators generally do or traditionally have done. What makes this particularly complicated is that the expectations in the teaching profession also change over time. A duty that was unheard of 10 years ago could be common tomorrow and so become a reasonable additional duty.

There is a lot of uncertainty about when a duty becomes too big to be reasonable. Considerations include: Does everyone do it? Has it always been done? How closely connected is it to the primary job? How many hours outside of normal working hours does it take? Is it on a non-workday? What other additional duties are also required? Are there specific personal reasons that prohibit the educator from taking on the duty, like significant family obligations that would be seriously affected?

Can I Quit Coaching? Meet the “Supplemental Duties” Clause

Supplemental duties take more time or require more responsibility than additional duties, and therefore the educator receives additional compensation for them. Each district decides locally what duties deserve compensation and what the compensation will be. Since there is no bright line for when a job is big enough to warrant extra pay, a particular job, like the yearbook sponsor, might be a compensated supplemental duty in one district but not in another. Usually a supplemental duty is not a part of the educator’s contract, so either the educator or the district may terminate the duty at any time—so long as there is not a separate contract that covers the duty. If the duty is terminated, it will often affect the related compensation, but there are rules, particularly when it is the district that terminates the duty, that may limit a resulting pay reduction.

Sometimes the extra responsibility is literally added into an educator’s employment contract, so that the contract names and governs both, creating a “dual contract.” This gives the educator more legal rights regarding the additional position and makes it more difficult for both the district and the educator to terminate the separate duty without the other’s agreement. The most common example of a dual contract is the “teacher/coach” contract. Since the contract governs both duties, what the contract says is important. For instance, if only the general term “coach” is used in the contract, the educator can likely be reassigned to any coaching position at any time, though complicated rules govern what may happen to the coach’s pay. A more specific description, like “head football coach,” creates a right to that unique position. In any case, however, the contract protects only the pay for a position. The district may remove the actual duties at any time, as long as the educator continues to receive the proper compensation. The district must usually prove that it has good cause to terminate the coaching duty in a dual contract, and if it does, that commonly allows the district to terminate the entire contract, ending employment with the district completely.

While uncommon, a district may enter into a separate contract for a supplemental duty. It is more common for districts to provide staff with a document that simply states what position and pay are planned. It is important to read any documents closely.

There are many different ways that a secondary duty can be treated, and it can be complicated to determine what rules apply for educators with contracts. Educators should seek out legal advice if they have questions about their legal responsibilities.

Back to Magazine Contents