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Q&A: Effectively Managing Employee Behaviors

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This Q&A provides answers to some of the most common questions HR Services has received regarding managing employee behaviors.

Q: Can a district require an employee to take an alcohol or drug test?

A: It depends on the circumstances. If there is reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence of either alcohol or drugs and the search is reasonable in scope to the circumstances that justified the search, a district may require the individual to take an alcohol or drug test. See TASB Policy DHE(LEGAL). The determination of reasonable suspicion should be based on specific observations of the appearance, behavior, speech, or body odors of the employee whose motor abilities, emotional equilibrium, or mental acuity seems to be impaired while on duty.

An employee should be given the opportunity to provide relevant information about prescription or nonprescription medications that may affect the testing. An employee who refuses to comply with a directive to submit to testing is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

An employee confirmed to have violated the district’s drug and alcohol policy may be disciplined according to policies and procedures.

Q: Pending an investigation, should an employee be placed on administrative leave with pay?

A: It depends. Employees on Chapter 21 contracts may be placed on administrative leave with pay by the superintendent or designee pending an investigation of alleged misconduct or at any time the superintendent or designee determines the district’s best interest will be served by the removal from the workplace.

Note that a school board may only suspend a Chapter 21 term contract employee without pay for good cause by following procedures outlined in Policy DFBA(LEGAL) for term contract employees and Policy DFAA(LEGAL) for probationary contract employees. Prior to stopping pay, the employee is entitled to a hearing before an independent hearing examiner, if requested. An employee not discharged after being suspended without pay is entitled to back pay for the suspension period.

At-will employees may be placed on administrative leave with or without pay.

Q: Can a district reassign an employee?

A: Yes, but the reassignment and process are dependent upon several factors that should be considered, including the following:

  • Is the individual on a Chapter 21 contract?
  • Is the reassignment in the same professional capacity?
  • Is the contracted employee in agreement with the new assignment?

The superintendent or designee can “reassign” a Chapter 21 contract employee based on the best interest of the district according to Policy DK(LOCAL). Your district’s local policy DK(LOCAL) may define “reassignment” as a transfer to another position, department, or facility that doesn’t change the contract of an employee, including the professional capacity listed on the current contract. 

If the new assignment is to a different professional capacity, the new assignment can occur but there are more considerations to make. If the employee agrees with the new assignment, the individual can simply resign their current position and sign a new contract for the new professional capacity.

If the employee disagrees with the assignment change and is employed on a probationary contract, the district can terminate the contract at the end of the year according to Policy DFAB(LEGAL) in the best interest of the district and offer a new contract for the following year for the new assignment.

The employee’s pay should not change during the contract term. A district may reduce an individual’s salary between school years if it gives notice of the salary reduction before the penalty-free resignation deadline.

If the employee is at will, the individual can be reassigned to any position at any time.

Q: When has an employee considered to have abandoned their job?

A: Typically, an employee is considered to have abandoned their job when they do not show up for scheduled work for approximately three days. It is important as an employer to communicate your district’s no call/no show guidelines to employees. The three business days rule is usually enough time to investigate the employee’s absence without putting the district in a position of holding a job for someone who does not plan to return.

No call/no show occurrences should be investigated to determine the validity of an employee’s absence. Unforeseen circumstances such as a medical emergency, incarceration, or family crisis may be the reason, and verifying before terminating is always best practice. Additionally, providing proper notice of the termination is important. This may include sending a certified letter and requesting the employee to contact your district if there has been some sort of misunderstanding.

Once due diligence has been taken to ensure a no call/no show occurred without reason, the district can move forward with termination procedures. If the employee is employed on a Chapter 21 contract, the required procedures for a mid-year termination must be followed.  

The HRX article Reporting Contract Abandonment provides information necessary to navigate job abandonment of contracted employees.

Q: What does a district need to provide to employees for the grievance process?

A: Employee grievance procedures are detailed in Policy DGBA(LOCAL). Most districts require employees to fill out a form provided by the district stating the complaint, as well as details for the remedy sought. Complaint forms help decision makers control the scope of complaints as they move through each level of the process, and a district should provide these forms to the employee upon request. The employee should return the completed complaint form, as well as copies of any documents that support the complaint. If the employee does not have copies of documents at the time of the complaint submission, the forms may be presented at the Level One conference.

Sample grievance forms are available in the Employee Relations section of the HR Library (member login required) and in the Policy Service Regulations Resource Manual (see DGBA(Exhibit)).

Remember, all employees are required to have an opportunity to have complaints and concerns heard by those in positions of authority (Tex. Const. art. I, § 27; Tex. Gov’t Code § 617.005). In school districts, administrators and school boards are authorized to hear those grievances. Therefore, the grievance process should be communicated to all employees, and the district should be transparent as possible in grievance proceedings. A copy of the grievance policy should be given to employees upon employment and anytime it is revised.


A multitude of resources are available to assist with managing employee performance, complaints, discipline, terminations, and contracts, including the following:

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