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Career in Legal Contracts

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					                                TEACHING CONTRACTS*

A contract is a formal agreement between two parties defining mutual responsibilities and
obligations, usually for a specified time. In most school districts, a master contract is prepared as the
result of negotiations between the teachers' bargaining representatives and the board of education.
The negotiated master contract includes such features as: base salary, specified increments, fringe
benefits (including retirement and insurance plans), number of working days, policies regarding
leaves (illness, emergency, and sabbatical), procedures for observation and evaluations, and
guidelines regarding termination of service. Either party has the option not to renew the contract.

Types of Contracts

There are two basic types of written contracts - comprehensive and supplemental. A comprehensive
contract specifies all duties agreed upon by the two parties. Teaching assignments as well as
extracurricular responsibilities such as coaching or sponsorship of activities are delineated. Some
districts have a master contract that applies only to teaching responsibilities. Extracurricular
assignments or other duties are covered in a separate document called a supplemental or special
service contract.

Contract Offers

There are three distinct steps in the contract process. First the contract is offered to the individual
selected by the hiring official or committee. This offer may be verbal or written and a time-line for
the return of the contract will be indicated. The second step involves the candidate's decision to
accept or decline the offer. The decision must be communicated to the hiring official within the
specified time, either verbally or in writing. It is important to realize that a verbal acceptance may be
legally binding and is always ethically binding. After the candidate had signed and returned the
contract, it must be signed and approved by the board of education before it becomes official.

When you return a contract, always send a brief cover letter and retain a copy of the letter for your
files. If you accept the offer of employment, your letter should clearly indicate that you are returning
a signed contract and that you look forward to assuming your duties on the date indicated. If you do
not sign the contract (and, of course, you have not given a verbal commitment), you should clearly
indicate your decision and express your appreciation for the offer. Although you are not obligated to
state a reason for rejecting an offer of employment, you may wish to indicate that you have accepted
another position.

After You’ve Signed, If You Want To Be Released, Request A Release; Don't Break A Contract

Once you have signed and returned the contract to the board of education, you are legally committed
to fulfill the obligations of the contract and you are not free to accept another offer. Do not make the
mistake of signing two contracts. The consequences of breaking a contract can be severe. The board
of education has the option of taking legal action, which could result in the revocation of your
teaching certificate by the state department of public instruction.


190/Teaching Contracts             Last Printed: 11/16/2007
                                    Last Revised: 8/5/2003
Although a contract must never be broken, it is possible that a teacher might find it necessary to
request a release from contractual obligations. Legitimate reasons for requesting a contract release
might include:

                Job offer from another school district. A more desirable offer may be received just after a
                teacher has signed a contract for the coming year. The board's reaction to a request for
                release under these circumstances may depend upon: when the contract was signed, the
                time of year the release request is made, and the availability of satisfactory replacements.

                Spouse transfer. A spouse's unanticipated promotion or career change can create
                unavoidable conflicts. When a spouse is transferred to a new location without extensive
                prior notice, it is common for a teacher to seek an early release from a contract.

                Health reasons or family responsibilities. Accidents or illness can make it impossible for a
                teacher to fulfill contract obligations. Similarly, unexpected changes in responsibilities for
                spouse, children, or parent may occur.

                Career Changes. If the starting date for a new career opportunity is not negotiable, the
                teacher may have no recourse but to request a release.

                Personal reasons. A teacher may request a release for "personal reasons" due to extreme job
                dissatisfaction, personality conflicts, or pre-employment misconceptions. Request for
                release under any of these circumstances might be legitimate but should only be made as
                a last resort after careful deliberation and consultation.

      Whatever the teacher's legitimate reason for requesting a release from a contract, most boards of
      education will make every effort to accommodate such a request. The release may depend upon
      the availability of a qualified replacement. The board is under no obligation to release a teacher
      from the terms of the contract; therefore, a contract should never be signed with the expectation
      of obtaining a release.

      Celebrate Your Success

      Share your good news with your family and friends - and remember to tell Career Services too.
      With the signing of the contract, your job search is complete. You have found the teaching job
      that is right for you and you can look forward to an exciting and rewarding professional
      experience.


      Information taken from:
         Anthony, Rebecca , Roe, Gerald, From Contact to Contract; a Teacher's Employment Guide,
         2nd Ed., Carroll Publishing, 1992




190/Teaching Contracts                  Last Printed: 11/16/2007
                                         Last Revised: 8/5/2003

				
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