Can I Quit an Arizona Teaching Job Mid-Year?
Can a teacher break their contract or terminate their contract mid-year? We’re talking specifically in the state of Arizona. And the answer is normally, no, you cannot. There are a few exceptions to those, but normally, a teacher in Arizona is contracted for the entire school year. You’ll normally receive your contract, well, before the school year even starts, sometimes even the months of February. You’ll sign that agreement for the next school year, and therefore, it is binding. Sometimes there are even financial consequences. There could be something called a liquidated damages clause within your employment agreement with your school district that states, if you break this contract, you will be required to pay them an amount of money.
Sometimes it depends on how much your salary is. And other times there’s just like a specific amount. Even further than that, you really are at your school district’s mercy to be released from your contract. If they do not release you and you still break the contract, you leave mid-year, it can be considered an act of unprofessional conduct by the state board, your licensing board in Arizona. So, your school district may report or file a complaint against you for doing this. If that happens, the state board of education may open an investigation and there may even be some type of penalty for your license. Unprofessional conduct is a big catchall that the board of education in Arizona does consider mitigating circumstances. And so, what does that mean? It means the circumstances around this. Did you leave just because you wanted a better job, or did you leave because of family issues? You’re leaving the teaching profession; the school district is breaching the contract.
There are lots of factors and it can get a little complicated. In general, it’s best to not break your contract mid-year unless there are some extreme circumstances, and I would always recommend advising an attorney before you do this just because there are financial consequences, there could be consequences against your license. So, it’s very important that you want to handle this properly. And I’m speaking about public school districts. K-12 charter schools can sometimes be a little different from private schools. But normally, all their contracts are for the entire school year. Other topics of interest include:
- What Happens if I Break my Teaching Contract in Arizona?
- How do you Resign from a Teaching Position in Arizona?
Normally it starts in August and then ends at the end of May, there will be dates there. And there’s no without cause termination. That’s what it’s called whenever you just give your notice that you are terminating your contract. In teaching contracts, 99% of them do not have this in there for public schools in Arizona. So, it’s very important that you fulfill your contract for the rest of the school year. Now, if you want to not come back, you can always give notice of intent not to renew, or don’t sign the next contract whenever it’s presented. That’s the best practice. But as I know, and I’ve talked to many clients, you don’t have crystal balls, you don’t know what’s in the future. Whenever you sign these employment contracts and things may come up and it’s just not feasible for you to stay there.
And because there’s such a mass exodus of educators leaving school districts, they’re becoming more and more strict about enforcing their contracts. You want to be very careful. So, can a teacher break their contract midyear? They can, but there’s going to be lots of consequences, maybe financial and possibly action taken against their teaching license.
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