A complaint was filed with the State Board of Educator Certification against a teacher, alleging that her teaching certificate was subject to sanctions because she had abandoned her contract with the school district. The teacher requested a hearing regarding the proposed sanctions.
At the hearing, the teacher testified that she had worked for the district for 10 years. She submitted her resignation during the school year because of child care issues and in order to accept another position that she considered to be a promotion. She spoke with her principal about her intent to resign and the principal did not indicate that there would be a problem with her resigning. The principal asked the teacher who she thought would be a good fit to take over her duties. The teacher wrote a detailed letter explaining the items that needed to be completed and who would be responsible for finishing these items. After her departure, the principal was able to cover her duties with existing staff and testified that no students were harmed as a result of the teacher's resignation.
The teacher testified at the hearing that she was not aware that the district had not accepted her resignation and that she was surprised that she might be sanctioned because her principal never mentioned that there might be a problem. She testified that she would not have resigned had she known that she could be sanctioned.
The teacher explained that she had a childcare provider close to the school who was no longer available. She is a single mother who lives approximately an hour away from the school. After her childcare provider closed, she found a new one that was closer to her home, which made the time and distance required for her to commute difficult.
The administrative law judge noted that SBEC may impose sanctions on a teacher who resigns after 45 days prior to the first day of instruction of the upcoming school year without the consent of the board of trustees or without good cause. In this case, the teacher did not have good cause to resign and did not have the consent of the board of trustees. Therefore, her certification was subject to sanctions.
However, because the teacher showed good faith in communicating with the school district, assisted with the transition by leaving instructions for her replacement and did not have to be replaced, there were mitigating circumstances present that would justify lowering the sanction.
The customary sanction for contract abandonment is a one-year suspension of the teaching certificate. However, in this case the judge recommended that the suspension be reduced to nine months. SBEC accepted this recommendation and suspended the teacher's certificate for nine months.