Is It Legal for a School Not to Renew My Teaching Contract if I Reasonably Expected It to Continue?

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When a teacher is contracted to work at a specific school, it is often reasonable to expect that his or her continued working relationship will provide for a renewed contract for future teaching. However, sometimes, the administration has determined that the teach is no longer the right fit at the end of the contract and may hire someone else.

There are very specific procedures and requirements for non-renewal, non-extension of contracts and the dismissal of a licensed teacher at a school. Because of this, it is not as easy to dismiss or end the contract of these professionals for just any reason. The school boards of the local area determine administrator contracts, the district policies for everyone and collective agreements. These documents should be reviewed before any employment action is taken on behalf of the teacher that has been released or dismissed. Each state has different protocols, and the information pertaining to the school and administration is available to everyone affected.

It is advised to consult with legal counsel before a dismissal or teaching contract is not renewed to prevent possible litigation with the school district or board. Often, during the school year but before the end of the spring semester, the teacher is provided information about an extension of contract, renewal of his or her teaching contract agreement for the next school year or if he or she is to be dismissed and why. Many teachers work through several years in a single contract, and may not face these circumstances until the renewal date. However, when not in a probationary status, they are provided written documentation about the renewal, extension or dismissal.

Complications with Dismissal and Non-Renewal

When an employee that has been contracted and provided the work specified is terminated through dismissal or his or her contract is not renewed, some complications arise through litigation based on a belief of bias or discrimination. Because these factors are often true, it is crucial for the school board and administration to consider the contract carefully for each educator. A written notice, documentation, recorded action and witnesses are usually available for the proceedings when a teacher is not renewed or has been dismissed. Extensions may be possible for an additional year during the action period, and dismissal is received around the same time as a new contract.

Some circumstances exist outside the teacherís purview such as a lack of funding, a discontinuation of a class or category of subjects or similar situations. Sometimes the school is unable to afford the same teacher and must hire someone that will work for less. Even in times where it is reasonably expected that the contract will be renewed or extended, the educator may find himself or herself dismissed or the employment contract ended. It is important to gather as much information before seeking any legal action. It is also essential to hire a lawyer if any discrimination or harassment have occurred during the school year.

The Contract of a Teacher

A district is required to enter into an employment contract for each individual teacher similar to those found in other countries. This is usually a two-year employment agreement in recorded paperwork at a minimum for some states, but the timing may be different based on the location of the country. These teachers are licensed employees and may be subject to license suspension and revocation when responsibilities are not followed accordingly or if the rules or laws of the school and state are violated. This may include not following the guidelines about what to teach and at what pace.

Before legal action is sought for nonrenewal of employment contracts, it is important to seek an appeal with the school board or the local circuit court in the county where the school resides. This may reverse the administrative decision of the board and administration. However, if the reason is valid and the teacher has violated some rule or law, the courts may reaffirm this decision. For all other issues, it is important to hire a lawyer.

Teacherís Legal Support in Nonrenewal

When it appears the legal rights of a teacher are violated by a nonrenewal of an employment contract with no basis or foundation for the decision, it may have occurred due to discrimination or retaliation. Legal representation is needed to counter these circumstances and for the teacher to seek reinstatement as an educator with all responsibilities.


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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