Although the exact answer will depend on the details, some generalities often apply. The following steps can help teachers navigate the situation and have a better understanding of the process.
Step 1: Know the basics of the contract.
In most cases, teachers have one of three types of contracts: probationary, continuing or term. School districts may use a probationary contract for a new teacher, whether new to the profession or just to the district. It lasts for one year. The Texas Education Code states that districts are only allowed to renew a probationary license a set number of times. This number depends on the teacher’s experience. Relatively new teachers could have a probationary license for three, rarely four, years while a more experienced teacher may only have a probationary license for a single year.
When the probationary period is over, the district will need to decide whether they want to keep the teacher or not. Those who wish to keep the teacher usually choose between a continuing or term contract. In these instances, term contracts do not exceed five years. A continuing contract lasts until a teacher resigns, retires, or a district chooses to discharge the teacher for good cause.
State law defines “discharge with good cause” as a failure to meet the accepted standard of the profession as recognized in similar districts. Examples can include evidence of immoral conduct, incompetence, neglect, conviction of a crime, fraud or a failure to comply with school rules.
Step 2: Know the process.
If discharged, the district must provide the teacher the opportunity to request a hearing. This is essentially an appeal to the district’s decision to terminate their position.
Step 3: Determine if the district violated your rights.
In addition to the process noted above, teachers generally have the right to due process as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. This provides additional assurance that the district follow a clear and transparent process when terminating a teacher from employment. This process can include written notice of the dismissal and charges as well as an explanation of the evidence used to support the decision and an opportunity for the teacher to defend themselves.
Step 4: Act.
Teachers who believe their rights were violated have options. You can appeal the termination and fight back.