At TCTA's urging, the Texas Education Agency sent a letter Tuesday notifying school district administrators that they can request permission from the commissioner to reduce teacher contract days without reducing salaries in the event of flooding or extreme weather, as allowed under current law. 

TCTA reminded TEA that the agency issued a similar letter in October 2005, when educators affected by Hurricane Rita were unable to complete the statutorily-required minimum of 187 days of service, and asked that the commissioner specifically inform school district administrators about this option again since many administrators seem to be unaware of this ability. 

The Sept. 12, 2017, letter provides guidance to school districts regarding the legality of paying teachers and other personnel for days that an affected district is closed for evacuation or recovery purposes: "Following a review of the applicable law and contractual provisions, and the needs of the district regarding days of service, a district that wishes to reduce the number of days of required service without reducing educators' pay may request that the commissioner authorize such a reduction pursuant to Section 21.401(c) of the Texas Education Code."
 
The TEA letter further provides that requests for "a shorter contract term commensurate with the number of days closed from the start of school for the 2017-2018 school year through the end of October 2017 will be granted [emphasis added]. Further requests for waiver will be considered on a case-by-case basis." The letter directs districts and charter schools requesting the waiver to apply using the TEAL waiver application.
 
TCTA will continue to work with TEA on issues that need to be addressed as we hear about them from our members and from other avenues. We will continue to update our Hurricane Harvey webpage as new information becomes available. Members with specific questions or concerns about their contracts and hurricane-related closures can call the TCTA Legal Department at 888-879-8282.