HR Services is receiving an increase in questions about contracts and teacher certification as the end of the school year quickly approaches.
Many school districts provide teachers working through the certification process a contract addendum with expectations for certification completion. Unfortunately, not all teachers complete the requirements for a standard certificate in a timely manner. This results in tough contract decisions that must be made for the following school year.
Some of the most recent challenges we have documented are the result of expiring emergency permits and intern or probationary certificates.
A district must notify an employee of the proposed nonrenewal of a Chapter 21 contract at least ten days prior to the last day of instruction. Often school districts will allow teachers up until the May school board meeting to complete deficiencies. Even with this extra time allowance, not all teachers complete their certification or steps necessary to qualify for another route to certification. Routes to certification are detailed in the HRX Seven Ways to Qualify an Uncertified Teacher and in Qualifying an Uncertified Teacher in the Certification section of the HR Library (member login required).
Remember, an emergency permit is valid for one year with no renewal except for a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) instructor (may be renewed yearly) or a teacher for visual impairment (maximum of two renewals).
An intern certificate may not be renewed, and a probationary certificate may be renewed once if approved by the certification candidate’s educator preparation program (EPP).
If the school district is certain the individual will complete deficiencies over the summer or qualify for another route to certification, offering a new contract may be a viable option.
Concerns arise when a district is unable to determine the teacher’s certification eligibility. In this case, two options are available. The greater risk is to issue a contract for the following school year and hope the teacher completes steps to qualify for their standard certificate or another route to certification. If the teacher is unsuccessful, the district may use the statutory process to void the teacher’s contract pursuant to Texas Education Code (TEC) §21.0031.
The second option would be to terminate the probationary contract or nonrenew the individual’s term contract in May of the current school year. The individual would be eligible for rehire in their teacher position if they later become eligible for a route to certification.
Districts terminating or nonrenewing a teacher’s contract often choose to keep the individual as a substitute for their current position while working through the certification challenges. See Substitute Teachers in the Certification section of the HR Library for limitations of this arrangement.
Before taking any type of adverse contract action it is recommended that the district consult their legal counsel.
Karen Dooley is a senior HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Karen an email at email@example.com.
Stay up to date with all the latest HR news and trends by joining the HRX mailing list!