Key Things to Look for in Your Next Contract
Date Posted: 4/13/2023
Many educators have received their contracts for next year or will be receiving them soon. And while some may simply sign and return the contract without reading it, there are a few reasons why that may not be the best practice. Contracts are a very important component of a certified educator’s employment, and even a small error or change in the contract can drastically affect an individual’s rights.
Timing can also be a factor because many contracts contain an “expiration clause” stating that if the contract is not signed and returned by a certain date, the educator is deemed to have resigned. Further, if there is a problem with a contract, district grievance deadlines typically only allow a very short timeframe for raising the concern.
It is a good idea to confirm that the contract’s title or professional capacity is correct and—if returning to the same district—matches the description on the current contract. A contract might say “Teacher,” “Professional Employee,” or “Teacher/Coach.” Just make sure this description is accurate so there won’t be problems down the road.
It is also very important to make sure it is the right type of contact. Districts sometimes give probationary contracts to employees who legally deserve a term contract. This is a crucial distinction during next year’s renewal period and can greatly affect an educator’s rights. Educators with probationary contracts can be nonrenewed in the best interests of the district, which covers nearly any reason. Districts must have a good cause to nonrenew a term contract, and the employee is entitled to a nonrenewal hearing. Definitely look to see whether the contract says probationary or term as waiting until next year to raise the error will likely be too late.
You may wonder whether you should sign a contract when you are considering a move to a different district. Fortunately, Texas law favors educators in this situation. Certified educators have until 45 calendar days before their district’s first instructional day to resign. So you can sign a contract with your existing district and resign later if you find a preferable job elsewhere. It is also important to check the district’s calendar because resigning after the 45-day deadline can subject you to sanctions on your certificate.
Finally, educators should be familiar with their employer’s District of Innovation plan, which may alter any of the laws and timeframes discussed above.
The legal information provided here is accurate as of the date of publication. It is provided here for informative purposes only. Individual legal situations vary greatly, and readers needing individual legal advice should consult directly with an attorney. Please note: Rights based on the Texas Education Code may not apply to all. Many Texas Education Code provisions do not apply to public charter schools, and public school districts may have opted out of individual provisions through a District of Innovation plan.