Fear of COVID-19, concerns about underlying health conditions, and the inability to work remotely have resulted in an increase of resignations for the start of this school year.
Unexpected resignations of certified employees are challenging in a normal school year, but during these unprecedented times they have increased and become even more complex. When a resignation occurs due to good cause, the educational entity and employee often can part ways amicably. This may entail the employee continuing to work until a suitable replacement is found.
By State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) rule, factors that constitute good cause include:
- Serious illness or health condition of the educator or close family member of the educator
- Relocation to a new city as a result of change in employer of the educator’s spouse or partner who resides with the educator
- Significant change in the educator’s family needs that requires the educator to relocate or to devote more time than allowed by current employment
If a certified employee resigns mid-year without good cause, an educational entity may accept the resignation or pursue sanctions through SBEC for contract abandonment. Steps for filing a complaint are described in the TASB School Law eSource document Resignations by Certified Personnel.
If a resignation is not accepted, the entity may provide the employee a Non-release for Late Resignation of Contract letter found in the HR Library.
The educational entity should carefully consider the filing of a contract abandonment complaint for this school year. COVID-19 has created a landscape that may not be conducive to sanctions being placed on an educator’s certificate if the reason for resignation is related to COVID-19.
Not pursuing contract abandonment
In a normal year, many educators may be resigning to accept a job in other district. But this year many resignations are due to educators not feeling comfortable returning to work in any district. Districts are having a difficult time finding replacements or substitutes for late resignations, so some districts have chosen to wait to release an educator from their contract until a replacement is found.
Rather than attempting to punish resigning educators by reporting them to SBEC for contract abandonment, districts may find accepting the resignation is the best option. Based on the definition of good cause described above, SBEC is unlikely to pursue sanctions against someone who resigns due to health and safety fears.
The current climate is pushing employers to great extremes relating to the management of HR functions. Making fair, consistent, and compassionate decisions will help ease the angst of your role.
More information on resignations is available in the Termination section of the HR Library.
Keith McLemore is an HR and compensation consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Keith an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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