Should my district let me resign from my contract due to the offer of a promotion?
Most teachers in Texas are employed by school districts under an employment contract that states that they may resign from the contract for the upcoming school year for any reason up until the 45th day before the first day of employment for the upcoming school year. After that date, teachers may only resign with the consent of their district's board of trustees or for "good cause."
Good cause means that something has happened in the teacher's life that is compelling enough to release the teacher from the contract, even when the district does not consent. For example, significant illness is considered "good cause" to resign from the contract after the resignation deadline. A full list of circumstances that constitute "good cause" can be found in the rules of the State Board for Educator Certification, here.
Many teachers operate under the assumption that resignation in order to accept a promotion elsewhere is "good cause." This is incorrect. When a teacher requests to be released from their employment contract in order to accept a promotion at another district, many school districts grant this request and voluntarily agree to release the teacher. This is a widely acknowledged professional courtesy that districts extend to teachers in an effort to give them the opportunity to advance in their careers. However, although this is a common practice in many districts, it is not required by rule or law.
A teacher who wishes to resign from their contract in order to accept a promotion after the 45th day before the first day of instruction cannot do so without penalty unless they are released from their contract by their district. If the district declines the release and the teacher resigns anyway or fails to report to work, the district may report that teacher to SBEC for contract abandonment. If the district does so within 30 days from the date that the teacher fails to report to work, that teacher may have sanctions imposed on their teaching certificate.
The most common sanction imposed for contract abandonment is a one-year suspension. However, legislation passed during the 2021 regular session states that teachers who resign prior to 30 days before the first day of instruction cannot be suspended, although they may be subjected to a lesser form of sanction or be required to take additional training. This law takes effect Sept. 1, 2021, and will apply to teachers resigning for the 2022-23 school year and beyond.
SBEC is currently in the process of revising its rules and is considering a proposal to include a promotion as "good cause." This would allow a teacher who resigns from their contract in order to accept a promotion to avoid the imposition of sanctions on their certification. TCTA is working closely with SBEC and its staff to urge the board to incorporate this longstanding practice into its rules. TCTA believes that allowing teachers to resign from their contract in order to accept a promotion encourages teachers to seek advancement in their careers and raises the overall quality of education by rewarding proven and successful performance. TCTA is hopeful that SBEC will agree and amend its rules to incorporate a promotion as one of the reasons that a teacher may resign from the contract.
If you are a TCTA member and are considering resigning from your district in order to accept a promotion, please contact the TCTA Legal Department at 888-879-8282 and ask to speak with one of our staff attorneys, who will be happy to provide you advice based on your specific situation. If possible, please call prior to signing a new contract with any school district.