Teaching Contracts: Minimum Amount of Notice Requirement If Contract Does Not Specify


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Teaching jobs and other jobs in schools often work differently than other types of jobs. Teachers are usually provided with a contract for a year or longer during which they can depend on continued employment. However, they may receive notification that the school district plans not to renew their contract and may wonder about their legal rights in these situations.

How much notice a teacher is required to have often depends on the following information:

Type of Contract

There are many different types of teaching contracts. Each of these may carry a different amount of notice that is expected or required. The main types include:

Probationary Contracts

Sometimes teachers may be given a probationary contract. This type of contract is more common for new teachers who are just joining the profession or for teachers who are new to the district. A probationary contract may be for a short duration, such as one month, one semester or one school year. Often, teachers who are on probationary contracts often do not have the same rights to extensive notice as teachers with longer contracts. Additionally, they may not have the same rights to appeal or request a hearing that may be available to teachers with longer tenure.

Term Contract

Another type of teaching contract is a term contract. This contract is for a specified term, such as three or five years. Teachers with term contracts are usually afforded due process. Due process is a constitutional term that means that a person has the right to be notified and the right to be heard. Often, teachers with this type of due process can receive a hearing, present evidence and cross-examine adverse witnesses.

Continuing Contracts

Some contracts continue in nature with no specified end date. The rights that a teacher has under this contract are often the same as the rights for term-contract teachers. He or she often has the right to be notified of the school’s decision not to renew the contract, the right to be heard and the right to appeal an adverse decision.

Deadlines

The school may only have a certain amount of time to decide not to renew a teaching contract before the contract automatically renews. For example, in Texas the Board of Trustees is required to give notice of its decision not to renew a contract no later than the tenth day before the last day of instruction required under the contract. If this deadline passes, the school is obligated to renew the teacher’s contract and can only terminate him or her for good cause.

In Arkansas, if the teacher is not notified of the non-renewal by May 1, the contract is automatically renewed under the same terms and conditions as the current contract.

Cause for Termination

If a teaching contract is renewed, state law may specify the circumstances that allow the school district to terminate the teacher while his or her contract is current. For example, the school may retain the exclusive right to terminate a teacher who has been inappropriate with a student. The school may be able to terminate the teacher for incompetent performance, repeated neglect of his or her duty or conduct that materially interferes with the continued performance of the teacher’s duties. Additionally, the school may be able to terminate the teacher “for cause,” which may or may not be defined under law. Cause may include a reduction in the workforce or change in the school’s budget. The teacher is usually required to be notified of the recommendation for termination and the grounds upon which this recommendation rely.


Non-Renewal for Discriminatory Purposes

Even if the teacher is a probationary teacher and does not have due process rights, he or she may still have some protection if his or her contract is not renewed because of a discriminatory reason. He or she should consult an employment law lawyer for assistance if this situation arises.

Contact an Employment Law Lawyer for Help

If you have learned that your contract will not be renewed and think that your rights have been violated or that you have not been given adequate notice, it is important not to sign anything that agrees with this finding. Instead, contact an employment law lawyer for assistance with your case and to learn about your legal rights and options. You may only have a limited amount of time to appeal a decision, so it is important to seek legal help immediately.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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