Teacher seeks hearing after complaint to SBEC over contract… | TCTA
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Teacher seeks hearing after complaint to SBEC over contract abandonment

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A school district filed a complaint against a teacher with the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC), alleging that her teaching certificate was subject to sanctions because she had abandoned her contract. The teacher requested a hearing regarding that complaint before the State Office of Administrative Hearings.

At the hearing, the evidence showed that the teacher had a Texas educator certificate in Core Subjects with STR for grades EC-6 as well as an emergency permit in Elementary English as a Second Language for grades 1-6. On July 12, 2022, she signed a probationary teaching contract with the district for the 2022-23 school year and was employed as a self-contained fourth grade teacher. The first day of instruction was Aug. 22, 2022.

On Oct. 21, 2022, the teacher was appointed as the pastor of her church. On Dec. 5, 2022, she submitted her resignation from the district, effective Dec. 16, 2022. On the employee resignation review sheet, she indicated that she was resigning due to her pastoral appointment. She further indicated that requirements of her new appointment were too demanding in conjunction with her teaching duties.

The district declined to accept her resignation and on Dec. 6, 2022, it filed a complaint with SBEC alleging that the teacher resigned without consent and without good cause. At a meeting on Jan. 12, 2023, the district's board of trustees found that no good cause existed for the teacher to abandon her contract.

The teacher acknowledged that at the time she signed her contract, she knew she was hired to be a self-contained fourth grade teacher. After her employment with the district began, the teacher was appointed as pastor at her church. According to the teacher, she could not turn down this appointment because the church had paid for her education.

She testified that the principal reached out to her on Oct. 31, 2022, about changing her assignment because the principal was unhappy with how the teacher was teaching math. The teacher requested to be removed from the self-contained teaching environment and be reassigned as a fourth grade English/language arts/reading teacher. She wanted to continue working at the district. Her expectation was to swap positions with an ELAR teacher who wanted to teach a self-contained class. For unknown reasons, the swap never occurred.

The teacher continued to work as a self-contained teacher until such time as the educational workload along with her workload as a pastor began to take a toll on her physically and mentally and she decided to resign. The teacher acknowledged that she had no medical documentation that she was suffering from stress or other medical issues at the time of her resignation.

The administrative law judge found that the teacher resigned approximately four months into the 2022-23 school year. She lacked the consent of the district's board of trustees, which determined that the teacher's resignation lacked good cause. Therefore, the teacher was required to show that she did have good cause.

In this case, the teacher argued that good cause existed for her to abandon her contract because the demands from her teaching obligations combined with her new church obligations grew to be so overwhelming it caused her to suffer mentally and physically. However, she provided no further evidence to support this claim.

The mere fact that the teacher took on additional responsibilities outside of those she was assigned through her contract with the district is not enough to establish good cause for her resignation outside the penalty-free period. Therefore, the administrative law judge concluded that the teacher's resignation was without good cause and recommended that SBEC impose a one-year suspension on her teaching certificate.