ATPE weighs in on SBEC proposal that improves contract rules
Date Posted: 11/22/2021 | Author: Andrea Chevalier
For more than two years now, ATPE has been providing stakeholder feedback to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) on how to improve SBEC rules regarding contract abandonment. As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought teacher resignation circumstances into sharper focus, ATPE weighed in multiple times, most notably with ATPE Managing Attorney Paul Tapp’s participation on a panel during an SBEC work session held July 22, 2021. The July panel also included representatives of administrator associations, which led to the compromise reflected in the proposed rules laid out during the October SBEC meeting.
Today, ATPE submitted formal public comments in support of the proposed SBEC rules to update contract abandonment regulations. The revised rules are the product of this long-term negotiation and a favorable bill passed during the 87th legislative session, House Bill (HB) 2519 by Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo).
Contract abandonment occurs when an educator resigns without permission or “good cause” within 45 days before the first instructional day of the upcoming school year. If the employing school district files a complaint with SBEC against the educator and no good cause is determined, SBEC has the decision-making authority to sanction the educator’s certificate. Under HB 2519, SBEC must consider any “mitigating factors” relevant to the educator and can apply these to reduce a sanction to zero at the board’s discretion.
The proposed changes to the good cause criteria and mitigating factors for contract abandonment respect the professionalism of educators, understand the factors that influence an educator’s difficult decision to leave a job, and appreciate the need for SBEC to have appropriate discretion in addressing contract abandonment cases. The proposal includes the following improvements:
- Expanding the criteria for good cause that could allow educators to be released from their contracts through written permission from school administrators. This is a positive change that codifies a practice already used by many districts.
- Allowing SBEC the opportunity to consider four additional mitigating factors to reduce the sanction for contract abandonment: a change in certificate class (e.g., a teacher who becomes a counselor) or an advancement to a higher level of authority within the principal class of certificate; a reduction in base pay as compared to the prior year within the same district; a change in campus assignment that adversely impacts the educator’s family needs or health condition; and circumstances in which an educator’s working conditions reasonably pose an immediate threat of physical harm.
Stay tuned to Teach the Vote for updates on this rule proposal, which will be considered for final adoption by SBEC at its Dec. 10 meeting. If finally approved, the rules will then head to the State Board of Education (SBOE) for review before taking effect.
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