A school district filed a complaint with the State Board for Educator Certification, alleging that a teacher's certification was subject to sanctions for resigning from the district without good cause. The teacher requested a hearing before the State Office of Administrative Hearings regarding the complaint.
At the hearing, evidence was
introduced to show that the teacher signed a contract to work for the school
district as a special education teacher at a campus that services
special-needs and at-risk populations. Students on that campus often have
significant behavioral disorders.
On the day teachers were
scheduled to report to work for the school year, the teacher sent an email to
the principal, saying that she was resigning because she was not a good fit for
the position and that the lack of training and support had severely impacted
her health and well-being. The teacher had previously sent two emails to the
principal in which she expressed concerns that she had not received training
for the position and that the mentor who had been assigned to her was often
unavailable due to other responsibilities. In response, the principal assigned
her a new mentor and took the position that the teacher had received various
forms of support but was neglecting deadlines related to lesson planning and
The teacher did not return to
work and the district did not accept her resignation.
Because it was undisputed that the teacher had resigned without the consent of the district, the issue at the hearing was whether or not the teacher had "good cause" to resign. Teachers may resign without penalty if they can prove that they did so for one of the reasons listed in SBEC's rules as "good cause."
One such reason is "serious illness or health condition of the educator." The teacher testified that she felt ill-prepared and unequipped to handle the student population. She described behavior such as fighting and throwing desks that made her fear for her safety. She stated that she was experiencing stress, worry, a lack of concentration, difficulty sleeping, a nervous stomach and poor appetite. She was under a therapist's care and her anxiety and depression levels had increased. However, she never mentioned her mental health issues to the district as a reason for her resignation prior to her departure from the district, nor had she provided a letter from a doctor or her therapist.
The administrative law judge determined that, under these facts, the teacher had good cause to resign. The teacher was experiencing mental pain and suffering to the extent that constituted a serious health condition that negatively impacted her mental health. At the time of her resignation, she did not perceive herself to have any other alternative but to resign in order to ease that suffering.
The administrative law judge recommended that no sanctions be imposed on the teacher. However, that recommendation must now be considered by SBEC for a final decision. In the event that the board disagrees with the recommendation, it may still decide to sanction the teacher's credentials.
TCTA members should call the Legal Department at 888-879-8282 to speak with one of our staff attorneys prior to tendering a resignation if they believe that their health condition may require them to resign.