COVID-19 school closures create a unique environment for navigating contract terminations and nonrenewals.
Texas Education Code (TEC) sections 21.103 21.206 require the board of trustees to give written notice of its decision to terminate a probationary contract or propose nonrenewal of a term contract not later than the 10th day before the last day of instruction for the school year. Under current conditions, districts should carefully examine their practices to ensure they meet the required timeline and method of delivery.
Establishing notice deadline
Determining the last day of instruction is key to providing timely notification to a teacher for the termination or nonrenewal process. Calculations differ for each district and consideration must be given for how school days are categorized, amendments to the approved school calendar, and school day waivers.
The “Closed, Instructing” status allows a district to fulfill the required instructional days of the school calendar. The last day of instructing for this school year is determined by identifying the last day district students will be participating in remote learning. Notice that is postmarked on or before the 10th day before the last day of instruction is considered timely.
Delivery of notice
Statute requires the district to attempt hand delivery on the campus at which the teacher is employed. If the teacher is not present on the campus on the date that hand delivery is attempted, the notice must be mailed by prepaid certified mail or delivered by express delivery service to the teacher’s address of record.
Because campuses are closed and teachers are instructing remotely, districts will need to deliver notices via the alternate methods provided in statute. Even if district staff is able to accomplish providing notice by hand delivery, if the delivery does not take place on campus, the district must use certified mail or express delivery as described in the statute. Failure of the board to deliver notice within the specified timeframe will result in employment of the teacher in the same professional capacity for the following school year.
Ending Chapter 21 contracts requires following specific statutory procedures. TASB HR Services advices districts to work with local counsel when nonrenewing or terminating contract employees.
Please refer to Contract Termination Notices in the HR Library for a list of required notice of board action and the location of each notice.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has developed Guidance for Educators and Staff—Educator Evaluations and Non-Renewal FAQs that also may be helpful when navigating end of the year contract processes.
Karen Dooley is a senior HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Karen an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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