Identifying probationary contract year limits

by Patti Ellis

As districts begin renewal processes, the question of how long someone can be employed by probationary contract arises.

Familiarity with the limits also is important when hiring new staff.

A probationary contract may not last for a term greater than one school year. A contract for individuals with fewer than five years of experience can be renewed for two additional one-year periods for a maximum of three school years. A fourth probationary year may be added in circumstances where the board determines it is unlikely the teacher should be given a continuing or term contract.

A person who has been employed as a teacher in public education for at least five of the previous eight years at the time of hire may only serve on a probationary contract for one school year. This is often referred to as the five-of-eight rule.

Employees must complete one full school year under a probationary contract. A partial year doesn’t meet this minimum requirement, so employees hired for a partial year will need to complete a full year under a probationary contract after their initial partial year.

While probationary contracts are required for certified professionals and nurses hired by the district for the first time or who have not been employed by the district for two or more consecutive school years, there are two exceptions to this requirement.

  1. If the certified professional or nurse previously was employed by the district with less than a two-year gap, he or she must be rehired under a term or continuing contract.
  2. If the individual has prior public school experience as a principal or classroom teacher, the district may choose to hire under a term contract.

District human resources staff should be aware of any contract exemptions included in the district’s innovation plan. You can read more about probationary limits in the Employment Contracts section of the HR Library (myTASB login required). Detailed information on all types of employment contracts can be found in the TASB Legal Services’ Guide to Educator Contracts, which is available for purchase in the TASB Store.