Legal Notes

The Classroom Teacher, spring 2015

The beginning of summer also signals the time for teachers to make decisions about staying in their current positions or making the move to another. TCTA’s Legal Department brings you the facts about resignation and contracts as you make your plans for the next school year.

Resignation deadlines for 2015-16 contracts

The summer resignation date is the date on or before which a teacher can unilaterally resign from a signed contract. This date falls on the 45th calendar day before a district’s first day of student instruction. If students return to school on August 24, 2015, the deadline falls on July 10.

How to resign

Districts usually require written resignations; an email may not suffice. Many employees submit written resignations to central office (getting copies signed and dated to show the district’s receipt). State law sets out a process for resigning by mail:

A teacher employed under a…contract…may relinquish the teaching position…without penalty by filing a written resignation with the board…or the board’s designee not later than the 45th day before the first day of instruction….A written resignation mailed by prepaid certified or registered mail to the president of the board…or the board’s designee at the post office address of the district is considered filed at the time of mailing.

When is a resignation effective?

A district need not accept or act on a resignation submitted on or before the resignation date that indicates that the teacher will not work for the district the next year. If a teacher decides to move, and on May 1 submits a resignation for the end of the contract year, the teacher has, according to the law, effectively resigned at the end of the contract year. If the teacher decides on May 15 to stay another year and files a letter rescinding the original end-of-year resignation, the district does not have to employ the teacher for the following year because the resignation became effective by operation of law. (Whether a particular district has a policy or practice that might give a teacher the power to rescind a resignation presents a question for a TCTA member to discuss with a TCTA attorney.) This analysis does not apply to a resignation intended to take effect during the term of a contract.

The 44th day and other conundrums

(The legal concept of a conundrum has a parallel in picnic protocol; i.e., with room for only two more bites, does one choose mayo-based potato salad over grandma’s mustard-dill potato salad?  Obviously a trick question, the answer depends on whether grandma is watching.)  Before the summer resignation date passes, a teacher with a contract can accept and enter into a contract with a new district and resign from the first district. After the 45th day, the process gets complicated. 

After the resignation date passes, a teacher can resign with the consent of the board or its designee. A teacher who resigns without consent runs the risk that the district’s board will vote to send notice of contract abandonment to TEA and seek sanctions against the teacher’s credentials. After the resignation date, districts generally allow teachers to resign, but withhold consent until the district finds a replacement. In other words, before the resignation date, the teacher controls the ability to resign and the timing of the resignation; after the date, control passes to the employing district. The district holding the contract can say that a teacher may resign after the district finds a replacement, which could takes days or weeks. At the same time, the district the teacher wants to work for may say that the job will remain open until a certain date, which may pass before the employing district will consent to the resignation. 

A teacher can also resign with good cause, but good cause is a very high standard; one example would be the transfer of a teacher’s spouse across the state. TCTA members can call the Legal Department to discuss resignation for cause before resigning. 

TCTA attorneys spend many summer hours advising members about resignations and contracts. Whatever employment-related concerns you may have this spring, remember that TCTA’s attorneys are your attorneys; feel free to call us at 888-879-8282. We practice law at TCTA because we want to work for you.

See also:

Considering a resignation?

Teacher contract provisions and their meanings

Contracts