The State Board for Educator Certification gave initial approval at its October meeting to amend rules related to contract abandonment and the circumstances under which teachers may resign from an employment contract without penalty.
According to the existing rule,
teachers who resign later than 45 days prior to the first day of instruction
without good cause and without the consent of the school district are subject
to certification sanction. The mandatory minimum sanction for contract
abandonment is typically a one-year suspension. There are certain exceptions,
called "good cause," that allow a teacher to resign from the contract
without penalty and other circumstances, called "mitigating factors,"
that could justify a reduced sanction. For the full text of the current rule, which includes a list of
what constitutes good cause and mitigating factors, click here.
During the 2021 legislative session, HB 2519 was passed. This legislation was designed to give the board more flexibility when it imposed sanctions for contract abandonment and to allow for less severe sanctions for teachers who resign 30 to 45 days prior to the first day of instruction.
Implementation of this legislation required SBEC to revise its rules.
During this amendment period, the board also took the opportunity to examine the circumstances that it would consider to be good cause and mitigating factors to resign from the contract.
The board conducted a work session this summer and invited
four stakeholder participants to serve as a panel to engage in discussions
about the kinds of circumstances that would justify a teacher resigning from
the contract. TCTA served on the panel and engaged board members on robust discussion
on the reasons a teacher might resign from a contract.
As a result of this work session, the board proposed rule changes to be considered at the October meeting. TCTA testified in favor of the proposed rule changes, saying that we believe that keeping experienced teachers in the classroom promotes student growth and helps close learning gaps. However, forcing teachers to remain in an employment situation in which the teacher feels unsafe or experiences unsatisfactory working conditions does not accomplish this goal. Rather, it forces the teacher to choose between remaining in these conditions or to abandon the contract, and potentially the profession.
TCTA believes that the proposed
rules would serve to ultimately retain teachers in the profession by giving
them the flexibility in some circumstances to move to a better classroom
Multiple entities representing
administrator groups appeared at the October meeting or submitted written testimony to
oppose the proposed rule changes, arguing that adopting the rules would result
in staffing and budgetary complications for school district administration.
However, after vigorous discussion, the SBEC board voted 4-3 to approve the
amendments. Teachers serving on SBEC's board, including TCTA's Jean Streepey, led the charge in defending the need to give educators grace in leaving districts.
Under the proposed amendments, in addition to the previous factors, an educator will be considered to have good cause to resign from his/her contract when the educator had a reasonable belief that the educator had written permission from the school district administration to resign.
Additionally, the board approved the
following new factors that may mitigate any possible sanction (including, in
some circumstances, a determination that no sanction is appropriate):
The proposed rules do not become final until they have been finally adopted by the State Board for Educator Certification and approved by the State Board of Education.
TCTA will continue
to advocate for these and other rules that improve the professional
opportunities and working conditions of its members and appreciate the policy
makers that listen to our concerns.
In other action at its October meeting, SBEC also discussed implementation of SB 1267, which requires an overhaul of educator training requirements. TCTA testified to urge SBEC to reduce teacher CPE mandates.