District seeks sanctions against teacher who resigned from… | TCTA
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Gavel, law books and scales of justice

District seeks sanctions against teacher who resigned from contract

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A school district filed a complaint against a teacher, asserting that her teaching certificate should be sanctioned because she had abandoned her contract. The teacher requested a hearing before the State Office of Administrative Hearings to challenge the proposed sanctions.

At the hearing, the teacher testified that she had been teaching for more than 30 years. She was serving as a special education teacher at the district when her son died. After this occurred, she began feeling anxious and depressed, and teaching became increasingly difficult. She was not receiving a conference period or a duty-free lunch, there was constant teacher turnover, and she worried about making mistakes with the paperwork and other legal requirements associated with servicing special education students. She consulted her doctor about her anxiety.

The situation worsened. She learned that her principal was leaving and that there was going to be a new superintendent, a new principal, a new assistant principal and several new teachers. As the new school year approached, her anxiety heightened and she decided that she couldn't return. In July, after the penalty-free resignation date, she emailed the school her resignation. When she didn't receive a response, she assumed they had received and accepted it. She thought it was time to retire and applied for retirement with the Teacher Retirement System. However, she later changed her mind and accepted a position with a different school district. At that time, she learned that her old school district had not released her from her contract.

The teacher testified that suspending her teaching certificate would do no good and would only harm students because there is a teacher shortage. She testified that she hoped to teach a little longer until the school could find more special education teachers.

The administrative law judge concluded that based on these facts, the teacher had good cause to abandon her contract due to a serious medical condition and recommended that her teaching certificate not be sanctioned. However, the State Board for Educator Certification rejected this recommendation because the teacher did not submit medical documentation to the district to support her claim that she had a serious medical condition prior to tendering her resignation. SBEC also found that a teacher shortage was not sufficient reason to justify not imposing sanctions on a teacher's certificate. SBEC voted to impose an inscribed reprimand on the teacher's certificate for contract abandonment.