Deciding whether to resign from your contract rather than face a potential contract nonrenewal is a personal decision with long-term consequences. Only you can make the decision, but following are some factors to consider:

  • Don’t resign unless you’re absolutely sure that’s your final decision. It is difficult, if not impossible, to rescind a resignation once it has been submitted, so be certain of your decision before resigning, whether you do it verbally or in writing.
  • It’s a fact that when you seek employment in the future — should you decide to remain in public education — that most employment applications will ask if you have ever had your contract nonrenewed or if you ever resigned in lieu of nonrenewal. A “yes” answer (and you should always be truthful when completing a job application) may make you less attractive as a candidate or at least generate some questions about the circumstances.
  • The prospect of receiving unemployment benefits may also need to factor into your decision. If you are leaving your position as a result of a planned reduction in force, it is illegal for a school district to ask you to forfeit your right to unemployment compensation. However, tendering a resignation can potentially disqualify you for benefits. Also remember that unemployment benefits are significantly lower than your previous salary, will be of limited duration, and may require you to demonstrate that you are actively seeking employment.

The “Unemployment Insurance Benefits Handbook,” available from the Texas Workforce Commission, provides more detail. Though the publication is clear that eligibility for unemployment benefits is considered on a case-by-case basis, the Commission has also issued a publication called "A Lesson on Layoffs for School Employees" that specifically addresses layoffs.

  • If you are resigning with the expectation of a TRS pension, be sure you are financially ready to live on that pension and any other accumulated assets. There is nothing in the law that requires that your pension be increased as the cost of living rises, and with the state’s budget picture, the prospect of ongoing cost-of-living increases or regular 13th checks becomes dimmer. The only thing the law assures you is the amount of the pension with which you retire. Further, under TRS-Care, you should also expect and budget for regular health insurance premium increases that the state is not required to subsidize. (Note that you must meet eligibility requirements, including the Rule of 80, to qualify for TRS-Care health insurance.) Also keep in mind that if you choose to apply for unemployment benefits to subsidize your retirement benefits, the Commission will consider your annuity as income and will offset your unemployment benefits accordingly.  
  • Should you choose to resign, it’s always helpful to try to do so on good terms with your employer. There is nothing to be gained, and potentially a good recommendation to be lost, by taking that fantasy opportunity to vent about any issues you may have had with your employer.

If you decide not to resign

If you don’t resign, you have the right to request a hearing if your contract is proposed for nonrenewal, unless you are a probationary contract teacher (in which case you have the option to file a grievance). Though prevailing at these hearings is difficult unless the district has made an error — usually a procedural one, such as not applying its own criteria for reduction in force properly — there is always the possibility that the district will find other ways to balance the budget and that your position might be spared if you choose to wait rather than submitting your resignation.

The information in this article is not intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. TCTA members considering resignation or facing proposed nonrenewal should contact the TCTA Legal Department (888-879-8282) for consultation before making a decision.