Failure to return a contract or a letter of reasonable assurance by its due date typically signifies an employee’s voluntary resignation.
Spring is not a typical time for managing employment contracts or letters of reasonable assurance. Your district may have modified the usual distribution and return processes to accommodate school closures. Additional attention to the return of the documents is needed to properly determine whether an employee intends to resign.
To effectively manage staffing for the upcoming school year, employment contracts and letters of reasonable assurance contain a return date. The amount of time given typically, particularly for contracts, allows the employee time to carefully review and consult with an attorney, if desired.
The TASB model contracts (myTASB login required) include an expiration of offer clause. The contract provides that, if the employee does not sign and return the contract within the time period specified by the district, the offer expires. The employee’s current contract expires on its own terms and the employment relationship will end at the conclusion of that contract.
The model letter of reasonable assurance (LRA) found in the HR Library simply states failure to sign and return this letter by the designated date will be treated as a voluntary resignation. If an employee who fails to return the LRA files an unemployment claim, the district should respond to the Texas Workforce Commission and provide a copy of the unsigned letter and supporting documentation to show it was sent and not returned.
Words of Caution
Districts may have already modified standard delivery methods of contracts and letters of reasonable assurance to include direct mail or electronic distribution via email or the human resource information system. Keep in mind employees may experience challenges receiving or returning the documents due to the changed form of delivery.
As the deadline for acceptance approaches, school districts should assign an individual accountable for tracking receipt of the documents. After the deadline, the HR office, a campus administrator, or supervisor should contact any individual who failed to return a document. The purpose is to ensure the employee is intentionally resigning. This may not have been standard practice in the past but is recommended this year as a precaution. Once a resignation has been verified, it can be processed in the HR department.
Seeking advice from your local counsel is always recommended before taking any adverse contract action. Additional information on the contract provision for acceptance of offer can be found in TASB Legal Services’ Guide to Educator Contracts.
Karen Dooley joined HR Services in 2016. She provides oversight to a team of consultants providing staffing services, HR reviews, and other projects. She provides training and assists school districts with their HR-related needs. Dooley is a seasoned administrator with more than 17 years of HR experience in Central Texas districts as a coordinator, director, and assistant superintendent. She also worked as an assistant principal, counselor, and teacher, and holds a superintendent certificate.
Dooley received her master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University and her bachelor’s degree from Texas State University.
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