The State Board of Education (SBOE) adopted proposed rules to Chapter 19 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §249.17 regarding contract abandonment at its January meeting.
The proposed rule changes were in part a response to House Bill (HB) 2519 passed during the Texas 87th Regular Legislative Session.
Under HB 2519 the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) is prohibited from suspending or revoking a teacher’s certificate for contract abandonment if a written resignation is submitted after the penalty-free resignation deadline (i.e., 45 days before the first day of instruction) but not later than the 30th day prior to the first day of instruction. The purpose of the legislation was to provide SBEC more flexibility and allow for a lesser sanction if the resignation occurred during this time period.
In the process of making amendments to TAC §249.17, SBEC evaluated current good cause and mitigating factors and made changes to both.
SBEC adopted an additional good cause reason for contract abandonment in a situation where an educator has a “reasonable belief” that the educator had written permission from the school district administration to resign.
SBEC also added the following mitigating factors to the current list of mitigating factors that must be considered prior to determining abandonment of contract sanctions:
- The educator changed careers within the field of education
- to a position that required a different class of educator certification as defined in TAC §230.33(b);
- to a position with a higher level of authority within the principal class of certificate; or
- to a position in an open-enrollment charter school or a district of innovation that is equivalent to a position described above.
- The educator had a reduction in base pay, excluding stipends, as compared to the educator’s base pay for the prior year at the same school district.
- The educator resigned due to working conditions that reasonably posed an immediate threat of significant physical harm to the educator.
The new rules go into effect on March 3, 2022.
HR departments can take the following steps to navigate the change to good cause:
- Review the current resignation process.
- Make updates to ensure the process is streamlined and consistent.
- Determine who may accept a resignation from a contract employee (this may differ depending on the time of year the resignation occurs).
- Inform administrators, including principals, of the resignation process and their roles in the process.
- Ensure the resignation process is clearly communicated to all contract employees.
Specific steps to file a complaint against an educator who doesn’t have good cause to resign may be found in the HRX article Reporting Contract Abandonment.
SBEC will review a complaint submitted by the school district and consider if good cause exists for the abandonment. If the educator did not have good cause, SBEC must then consider mitigating factors in its discipline determination.
Tips for Accepting End-of-Year Contract Resignations also may provide helpful hints.
Karen Dooley is a senior HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Karen an email at email@example.com.
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Tagged: "Educator contracts", "Employment law", "Teacher contracts", Termination