The following was included in TCTA's 2017-18 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of September 2017 but is subject to change. The information below is for information purposes only, and is not intended to substitute for advice from an attorney. TCTA members who want to speak with an attorney should call 888-879-8282.

If you are told you will be placed on administrative leave, the following questions may come to mind:

The principal says I am being placed on administrative leave with pay. Can he/she do this?

Yes, this is legally permissible; usually the principal is acting on the superintendent’s behalf. Most school district policies provide that: “A term (or probationary) contract employee may be suspended with pay or placed on administrative leave by the superintendent during an investigation of alleged misconduct by the employee or at any time the superintendent determines that the district’s best interest will be served by the suspension or administrative leave.”

What should I do?

First and foremost, obey the directive, whether oral or in writing, and immediately leave your campus.

May I return to my classroom to pick up personal belongings?

This is a reasonable request that you should make to your principal. Unless instructed otherwise, remove only necessary personal items from the campus, leaving behind instructional and other work-related items, including your grade book.

Do I need to contact TCTA?

YES. You should call the TCTA Legal Department at 888-879-8282 as soon as possible to make your TCTA attorney aware of the district’s actions and provide any additional information as necessary. 

What happens next?

If you did not receive written notice at the time you were placed on administrative leave, your district will usually quickly provide written verification of your employment status. This notice usually states that you have been placed on administrative leave with pay, and it may provide a general statement as to the reason(s) for such action. The letter may further advise you to remain available during your normal working hours. In most cases, your presence on district property will be prohibited, as will be discussion of the investigation and related matters with colleagues, parents and students. Finally, such notice usually provides the name and telephone number of a district contact person in case you have questions.

Note: Strict adherence to all district directives is absolutely necessary to avoid the possibility of any further employment repercussions. Any deviation from the district’s instructions should be authorized in writing by proper district personnel.

What if my colleagues ask about the situation?

You must firmly inform them that you may not discuss any matters related to the investigation. 

Doesn’t the district have to tell me exactly what they are investigating, or the specific allegations underlying my suspension?

No, not at this initial stage.

What about my due process?

Due process rights are not involved at this time based on the minimal employment action taken by the district and because you remain on full salary.

While I’m suspended, may I be required to perform certain duties?

Yes, you may be required to provide lesson plans, grades, etc., as directed by your immediate supervisor or other administrative personnel.

Does my suspension mean the district believes I am guilty of wrongdoing?

Not necessarily. The district is taking this action to conduct a timely and proper investigation. Such action is usually in the best interests of all concerned, including you.

How can my TCTA attorney help me at this point?

Your TCTA attorney will want to become thoroughly familiar with any relevant information leading up to the district’s action. If you are aware of specific allegations, the TCTA attorney may ask you to provide a draft preliminary statement regarding the matter. If you are required to provide a statement prior to contacting TCTA, always retain a copy of the statement.

Your TCTA attorney also may be in contact with the district on your behalf to monitor the progress of the investigation. Make sure that your attorney is aware of any further district contact with you. 

How long may the district keep me on administrative leave?

It depends on the particular circumstances of your situation and how long it takes to fully investigate and review allegations or other matters. 

What are the possible outcomes of the investigation and my suspension?

Generally speaking, there are three possible outcomes. You may be notified that you are to return to work with no further district action. The district also may elect to return you to active-duty status with minimal negative employment action, such as a directive, reprimand, growth plan, or in some situations, a reassignment. Return to duty as directed, but consult further with your TCTA attorney in these cases.

If the investigation leads district administrative personnel to believe that you have engaged in serious misconduct, the district may change your status to administrative leave without pay pending further employment action. Immediate contact with your TCTA attorney will be necessary for further advice and appropriate representation.