With another school year done, it’s time to hit the pool until August rolls around. Well, not quite. You may have to make a final decision as to where you will work next year before you find yourself relaxing poolside.
Do you have another job offer, or are you planning to move? Early summer is your final opportunity to exit a contract without the need for board permission. Now is the time to finalize contract decisions before getting locked into an employment contract.
Professional educators, such as teachers, counselors, and administrators, who are employed in school districts are required to have employment contracts. These contracts generally guarantee employment for at least a year, and an employer must have cause to terminate employment during the contract term. While a contract can offer job protection and stability, it can also tie you down.
Even if you have signed a new contract for the new year, you can resign without needing district permission until 45 calendar days before the first instructional day. This is when students return to class, not the first workday. This deadline allows you the flexibility to make changes for the next year while giving school districts a reasonable opportunity to fill vacancies. After this deadline passes, you are locked into your employment contract and may no longer resign without school board permission unless you have “good cause.”
If another district makes an offer, you may accept the new contract as long as you resign from your current contract by your current district’s penalty-free resignation deadline. If a dream job offer comes in after this deadline passes, you should not enter into a new contract unless you request and are granted a release from your contract from your school board or superintendent. Principals do not have the authority to grant releases.
A common district response is that the release will not be granted until a suitable replacement is found. There is no timeline for a district to secure a replacement. If one cannot be found, the district does not have to release you from your contract. Unfortunately, this process can be time consuming and may impact pending job offers.
If you leave a contract after the deadline without board permission, you will be “abandoning” your contract and will be subject to a sanction from the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) unless you had “good cause” to leave. SBEC has determined that “good cause” exists when an educator leaves due to: serious illness in the educator or their family, relocation to another city due to a job transfer of the educator’s spouse or partner with whom the educator resides, or a significant change in the educator’s family needs that requires relocation or more time off than allowed by current employment. Unfortunately, SBEC does not
consider a promotion, a pay raise, or a position closer to home as good cause reasons. Barring good cause, SBEC normally will suspend educator certification for a one-year period for contract abandonment. This may prohibit work, including substitute work, with any public school in Texas.
Before checking out for summer, take note of your district’s penalty-free resignation deadline, and note that the 45-calendar day deadline includes weekends. Always be sure to confirm your deadline with your human resources department. If you choose to resign, make sure you comply with your district’s procedures. Send your letter to the appropriate person (usually your superintendent) with a courtesy copy to your principal, and obtain proof of your submission by mailing a resignation letter via registered or certified mail. Email will generally not suffice. For educators working for non-ISD employers such as charter schools, resignation will depend strictly on contract terms.
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.