This blog post is the first in a series of posts on Spring Personnel Decisions and will cover the resignation process from both a legal and best practice point of view.
The months of February and March bring with them the completion of summative evaluations for certified staff members and often reviews of work performance of our classified staff members, as well. Sometimes this process involves difficult, honest discussions with staff members who are either not meeting expectations or who feel they wish to move on from the district to seek other employment.
Obtain a Written Resignation
If a staff member wishes to resign, remember to obtain a written resignation, signed by the staff member. The written resignation should state the effective date of the resignation. For probationary teachers and administrators, a resignation is effective on the last day of the term of the employee’s contract. If the resignation is from a tenured teacher and received prior to June 1, the resignation is effective on the last day of the contract year for teachers in the district.
If the district wishes to recommend that the Board accept an early resignation from a certified staff member (i.e. before the end of the contract year) the letter of resignation should specify the exact date employment would come to a close, and, if the employee is the party requesting an early release, the reason he/she is requesting to be permitted to resign prior to the expiration of the contract term. Such a resignation can only be approved by the Board on a case-by-case basis for good cause shown.
For classified staff members, who are not under a contract of employment, the letter of resignation should provide specific date of resignation. The process required for resignations of classified staff members varies according to a district’s policy. Most policies do not require that a resignation be approved by the Board when it is for a classified staff member who does not have a contract of employment with the district. Check your policy language in order to determine whether your process deviates from that standard. Similarly, some policies require that a classified staff member without a contract of employment give a certain amount of notice prior to the effective date of resignation, as well, most policies requiring two weeks’ notice.
In addition to a specific resignation date, ensure that any letter of resignation indicates that a staff member will resign from “all positions” he or she holds with the district. Many staff members hold multiple positions and/or perform extra duties. The letter of resignation should be clear that the staff member is resigning all such positions.
The remainder of this blog post will focus on the process for resignations for probationary teachers in lieu of nonrenewal. A separate post in this series will address liquidated damages provisions and early release from contracts.
In having a conversation with a probationary teacher regarding poor performance, obtaining a resignation from the teacher is often the desired outcome as opposed to making a recommendation that the Board proceed with nonrenewal. What is the most effective way to have this conversation in a manner that protects the district? We have some suggestions:
- During the summative conference, the administrator should review the contents of the evaluation with the staff member, explaining the areas of skills and the areas of deficits, including areas of concern that may be noted in any comments section of the evaluation.
- Most evaluation tools have a field which indicates the administrators recommendation regarding re-employment. If your evaluation tool has this field, the field should indicate that the administrator will not be recommending reemployment. An alternative to this would be to leave that field blank, and instead include a cover sheet to the evaluation that specifies that the administrator will not recommend reemployment for the coming school year.
- Explain to the teacher that the concerns raised will lead to a recommendation of nonrenewal to the Board, and notify the teacher of the date of the relevant Board meeting.
- Less experienced teachers may also need to hear that a future school employers may ask on employment applications specifically whether a teacher has been nonrenewed at a previous district, therefore a nonrenewal is not a desirable outcome.
- Explain that the district will accept a written resignation from the teacher prior to the Board meeting, and provide the teacher with a specific date and time by which the resignation must be received in order to avoid a Board decision on renewal.
If a resignation is received, as provided above, the resignation is effective on the last day of the term of the contract of employment. If the teacher does not submit a resignation prior to the provided deadline, administration should proceed with a recommendation for nonrenewal to the Board. A separate blog post will cover the nonrenewal process itself.
If you have any questions regarding resignations or any other personnel matter, please feel free to contact any of our team members at EdCounsel.