How Do You Resign From a Teaching Position in Arizona? | Teacher Resignation
Today, I’m answering the question: How, as a teacher, do you resign from your position?
There’s no simple way to address this. If you want to quit, meaning that you would like to fulfill your contract and you’re not renewing your contract for the next school year, that’s the easiest way to resign. You would meet your requirements for the school year.
Let’s say the school district or the governing board presents you with an Arizona teacher employment contract for the following year. In that case, you give them notice that you will not renew that contract and don’t sign it. That’s the easiest way. You fulfill your school year, meet your agreement, and let them know that you’re not going to renew it, and there you go. That’s the easiest way.
Complicated Way to Resign From a Teaching Position in Arizona
The more complicated ways are when you are in the middle of the school year or if you have signed and would like to resign that previous summer.
So, you’ve already signed the contract stating the school will employ you with that school district for the coming school year within the specified date, and now you would like to resign. School districts vary from public, charter, and private schools. But you’re really at the mercy of the school district to be released from your contract. So, they must release you.
Most teaching contracts have no without-cause termination, which means there’s no way to get out of it. You have to fulfill it.
What Should You Do if You Want to Terminate Your Contract?
Some exceptions exist, and school districts may list them on their teaching contract. Still, I’ve seen a family leave for yourself or someone, one of your close family members, because of a medical issue or if you’re moving out of state. I’ve seen that on a contract, but it just varies. And sometimes, there are no exceptions whatsoever. It would help if you give as much notice as possible to help mitigate your damages.
It would be best if you let them know that you’re leaving. And you may need to specify the reason if it’s within one of those exceptions, and then you’re waiting for the school board to release you from your contract.
I’ve also seen some school districts where they will let go, but not until your position is filled. So, you may have to be there a little longer until they can find a suitable replacement.
What Happens if You Resigned During Mid-Year?
You also want to be careful resigning mid-year. Some public school districts in Arizona have a liquidated damage clause. If you break your contract mid-year, you may have to pay them back a portion of your salary, bonuses, or just a specific amount. It can get high, even $10,000 or $5,000. These are severe consequences.
So again, if there’s any way to fulfill your contract for the school year, I would do that first. You must ask the school to be released from your contract if you can’t do that.
Now, suppose they’re still giving you a hard time, and they’re not releasing you. Then, even at the beginning of the onset, if you are trying to terminate your contract after signing it, I would recommend advising an attorney familiar with these situations, like myself. We do this daily.
What is Considered Unprofessional Conduct?
You want to ensure you do what’s best for you and mitigate any financial damage.
Also, suppose you’re terminating your contract after you’ve signed it and asking to be released, or you’re breaching it. In that case, your school district can also report you to your licensing board, Arizona’s State Board of Education. It may be considered unprofessional conduct, and there may be consequences against your license. Now, there are a lot of factors that play into this.
Are you abandoning your class mid-year? Or is this during the summer you’ve given them notice? Is there some family emergency? All these things are factors, and they’re very fact specific to your situation.
So, you want to be careful.
Again, the best way to resign from your teaching position is to fulfill your contract for that school year. And then, give them the intent that you will not renew for the following year. Suppose you have signed your agreement and are under a contract with a school district, charter school, or private school.
In that case, you want to read your agreement carefully and see if there are any financial consequences if you terminate your contract.
And then also you’ll want to consider speaking with the school district if they report you to the State Board of Education. On the other hand, you don’t want to be investigated or punished for your teaching license. You want to be careful about that. I know there’s a teacher shortage here in Arizona, and school districts try hard to hold onto their educators. So, it’s a tough time to resign right now. You want to make sure you’re being very careful.
Other topics of interest:
Can I Quit an Arizona Teaching Job Mid-Year? | Arizona Teachers
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 usually, no, you cannot.
There are a few exceptions, but typically, a teacher in Arizona is hired for the entire school year in Arizona. You’ll normally receive your contract before the school year starts, sometimes even in February. You’ll sign that agreement for the next school year; therefore, it is binding.
Financial Consequences If The Teacher Terminates the Teaching Contract Mid-Year
Sometimes there are even financial consequences. A liquidated damages clause within your employment agreement with your school district could state if you break this contract.
You will be required to pay them an amount. Sometimes it depends on how much your salary is. And other times, there’s a specific amount. Even further than that, you are at your school district’s mercy to be released from your contract.
An Act of Unprofessional Conduct
If they do not release you and you still break the contract, you leave mid-year. It can be considered unprofessional conduct by the state board and 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 penalty for your license.
Unprofessional conduct is a big catchall that Arizona’s Board of Education considers mitigating circumstances. And so, what does that mean? It means the situation around this. Did you leave because you wanted a better job or family issues? You’re leaving the teaching profession; the school district is breaching the contract.
There are lots of factors, and it can get complicated.
Generally, it’s best not to break your contract mid-year unless there are some extreme circumstances. I would always recommend advising an attorney before doing this just because of the financial consequences.
There could be consequences against your license. So, it would help if you wanted to handle this correctly. And I’m speaking about public school districts. K-12 charter schools can sometimes be a little different from private schools. But usually, all their contracts are for the entire school year.
Do You Have to Complete Your Entire School Year Contract?
It usually 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 give your notice that you are terminating your contract.
Of teaching contracts, 99% do not have this in public schools in Arizona. So, you must fulfill your contract for the rest of the school year. Now, if you want not to come back, you can always give notice of intent not to renew or don’t sign the next contract whenever the employer presents it. 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. Things may come up whenever you sign these employment contracts, 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 will be many consequences, possibly financial and action against their teaching license.
How Long Are Teacher Contracts in Arizona?
How long is a teacher’s contract?
It varies. It depends on what type of teacher you are and what environment you’re in. Are you in a public school, district K-12? Are you in a charter school, a private school, or is it higher education? It just varies.
But, for an Arizona educator who teaches anywhere between K-12 grade, typically, they’re for one year. Sometimes if you’re on a tenure track, it can be a little bit different, but generally, they’re for one specific school year. It’s less than one year.
It will have a start date and an actual specific date. Usually, it’s in August. Sometimes a couple of days or a week before the students come in. There will be a date there, which ends at the very end of May. It will have a specific date there. And again, it’s going to be for one school year. You can stretch pay over 12 months if you prefer or do it just through the school year. And so, you wouldn’t get paid from the end of May until next August.
Usually, teachers’ contracts come up for renewal and normally start within February of the next school year. So, you’ll receive a new contract offer, or they’ll renew your old one. And like I said, that usually starts in February. But if they decide not to continue it, you end your contract at the end of May. You guys go your separate ways. You also can not renew it, which is the best way for an educator to end their employment with the school district.
Contract Termination for School Teacher
If you do decide to terminate your contract, most of the time, there isn’t a way to do that during the school year. The school would consider you in breach. So, you always want to try your best to fulfill your contract unless the school district is breaching the contract. Or there are some unforeseen circumstances where you can’t meet them. And then I would always advise speaking with attorneys to handle this.
There can be severe consequences if you do not complete the whole school year. For instance, your school district can report you to the State Board of Education. And that is your licensing board. It can be considered an act of unprofessional conduct. So, you want to be very careful with that. You want to ensure that the school board or the governing board releases you from your contract so you’re not in breach.
Charter schools are usually the same. It’s for a specified school year, with a renewal starting in February. I also want to mention that since they’re only for one or one school year, we should say that one school year.
You want to make sure that you sit and think about it before you sign because if you’re signing in in February or March for the next year, it’s a big commitment. And like I said, it’s tough to get out of and stressful. So, make sure you fully consider what is in your foreseeable future for that next school year before you sign that contract.
What Does an Arizona Teacher’s Employment Contract Include?
What does a teacher employment contract in Arizona include?
In general, they’re slim. Usually, they’re only a couple of pages long and bare-bones, but I will go over the basics and what I have seen from educators who have been my clients.
First, typically your salary is outlined there. Now, wages are generally not negotiable with districts. They’re standardized. They offer you a specific amount, which your contract will outline.
Then it will go into how you receive that salary. Are you paid over 12 months? Or are you paid throughout the school year as a teacher in Arizona? And in the summer, you wouldn’t receive any funds, so you’ll want to double-check that so you know, and you can adequately budget for those funds over the year.
Signing Bonus or Relocation Expenses
Especially if you’re coming from out of state to Arizona, sometimes the school district will pay you a signing bonus or relocation expenses. It’s usually not too much. It’s around a thousand; that’s what I’ve been seeing.
But if you are coming in, they may offer you a bonus. Now, if you receive that bonus, there are always some types of repercussions. If you terminate your contract, you will likely have to pay it back, sometimes with interest. So, you’ll want to read your agreement very carefully.
Then the contract itself will state how long it’s for. It’s generally for the entire school year. It’ll have a start date, which would be some time, usually in August if you’re in the Phoenix or valley area. And it typically ends at the end of May and has a specific date on there, and you are required to provide services within those dates. You cannot break your contract.
How Can the District Terminate the Contract?
The next thing you want to look out for is that the school district has some for-cause termination. It means, and it’s customarily listed, there are examples. If you are under investigation or lose your license with the state of Arizona, they may be able to terminate the contract.
If you harm a student or do something very egregious, or you are convicted of a crime, they may be able to terminate the contract immediately. You’ll want to read those through very carefully.
However, one thing missing from teachers’ contracts is a without-cause termination, which means you may not terminate your contracts for any reason. You must fulfill your contract for the remaining school year.
And if you don’t, there are consequences outlined in your contract as well. Commonly, those are called liquidated damages, which are a specific amount of money you owe to the district if you leave mid-year.
Those amounts of money are calculated differently. Sometimes it’s a percentage of how much your salary, and you’ll have to pay that back. Other times it’s just a specific amount, and I’ve seen even up to $10,000.
So, you want to read that very carefully to know what the consequences are if you leave.
How Can You Terminate the Contract?
Also included in a teacher’s contract, sometimes exceptions would allow you to terminate your contract. They’re very slim, and there’s a narrow category of things.
It’s normal to take a leave of absence for your health or a family member. I’ve seen one if you move out of state, they’ll allow you to break your contract, which is odd. But really, that’s about it.
Also, if the school district breaches its contract, let’s say they’re not providing services that they agree to, not paying you properly, or offering things you both agreed upon in your contract, you may be able to break it.
But again, you want to be careful.
What Services Are You Going to Provide?
So, we have your salary, how the district can terminate the contract, and how you can terminate the agreement. Typically, it’s what services you’re going to be providing. And by that, I mean, what grade are you teaching? What are you teaching?
There’s usually a language that says you would adhere to all the school district’s policies. That’s important. You want to ensure you’re reading all the employee handbooks and policies. I have seen this come up when it’s talking about the discipline of students.
You want to ensure you know the school’s policy on how they prefer to discipline the students. Among other things, that’s just one that I’ve seen come up often.
There’s also language that you must adhere to all the State Board of Education regulations. Again, it’s slim. But usually, it’s just how and what they pay you, how you cannot get out of it, how the school district can get out of it, and how long you’re contracted for.
I always recommend reading your contract very carefully and considering the consequences if you cannot fulfill this contract before you sign it.
I’ve even had clients bring me contracts I’ve gone over with them so that they fully understand what they’re signing. Because this time, with the friction between educators, school districts, and the State Board of Education here in Arizona, they must fully understand what they’re signing as they will be contracted for the whole school year.
And it’s complicated and stressful to get out of if you change your mind later.
Can an Arizona Teacher Break Their Contract Mid-Year? | Breaking Contracts
Can a teacher break their employment contract during the school year here in Arizona?
The answer is they can, but they may open themselves up to paying damages to the school district.
Liquidated Damages Clause Could Follow a Teacher After Breaking a Contract
Some employment agreements for teachers in their school district have a “liquidated damages clause.”
It states that if teachers break their employment agreement during the school year, they will have to pay that district thousands of dollars. The contract includes this because if a teacher leaves mid-year, the school district is left without a teacher. So, they will have to recruit to find someone to start immediately. If not, they’ll have to pay the substitute for those costs and if they need to advertise a position within a short period. That’s kind of what covers that.
You should always look first in your employment agreement to see if there is a liquidated damage clause in your employment agreement.
Laws About Arizona Teachers Unprofessional Act
Also, the teacher should know that Arizona law states that a certified teacher shall not resign after signing and returning their contract. Unless the governing board first approves the resignation.
A teacher who leaves contrary to this section shall be deemed to commit an unprofessional act. And upon request of the governing board, shall be subject to such disciplinary action, including suspension or revocation of the certificate as a State Board of Education deems appropriate.
It means you are not only subject to potentially paying the school district thousands of dollars. The school district can also report that teacher to the State Board of Education, and the board could investigate their license. This situation is serious. And it’s becoming more and more of a concern just because of the pandemic, the shortage of teachers, and the teacher’s salary is low.
In Education, 12% Involve Teachers in Breaching Contracts.
And so, suppose you find a district willing to pay you more and closer to home. In that case, there could be various reasons you would consider an offer at a different location.
However, you must ensure you do it properly by referring to your employment agreement to see if there are any sort of damages like financially that you would have to be paying.
You would also want to be released by the school board because they can report you. It is a growing trend. The Arizona State Board of Education has said that up to 12% of their current investigations involve teachers breaching their contracts.
And it’s a pressing thing. So, you want to make sure, I know I said this before, that you want to do it properly. Refer to your employment first. And then, you want to get the board’s approval. I know it’s a tough decision and a hard time for educators.
Everything with COVID puts more stress on teachers. They’re understaffed, underpaid, and could be in a difficult position, and you want to leave, but you can’t.
What Happens If I Break My Teaching Contract in Arizona?
What happens if a teacher breaks their employment contract? I’m speaking about educators K-12 in the public school setting here in Arizona.
Usually, the school hands you your employment contract before the school year starts or before February. You’ll sign the Arizona teacher contract, and then you’re locked in for the next school year.
So, what happens after you sign it if you need to break it?
There’s usually no way out if you need to break that contract. There’s no without cause termination. You must provide services for the following school year because there’s a mass exodus of educators. And there’s a lot of tension between educators and the school district.
Legal Consequences of Breaking Teacher’s Contracts
It’s tough to break your contract without getting any consequences. The consequences I’m talking about could be at the school district level. It means that sometimes teacher employment contracts have a liquidated damage clause.
If you break your agreement and leave or choose not to fulfill your contract after signing it, you may be required to pay back a portion or a percentage of your salary. Sometimes there’s a specified amount, which can even be about $10,000. Always read your employment contracts carefully to ensure those clauses aren’t there.
So, one, there could be financial consequences. Two, your school board or governing board may report or file a complaint against you with the State Board of Education.
A teacher breaking their contract mid-year can be considered unprofessional conduct, and there may be consequences against your license. There are some exceptions. Some school districts specify that you must take a family leave if a family member has become ill.
Then, sometimes if you move out of the state, they give examples. And if you fall within one of those categories, you may be able to break your contract. If not, you are at the mercy of your school district. They must release you from your contract. Otherwise, it would be reportable to the State Board of Education. And therefore, there could be action against your license to teach.
Now, again, I’m speaking in general about the public school district. Sometimes charter or private schools are a little different, depending on your contract. It also depends on when you break your contract.
If you sign it and they have plenty of time to fill your position or offer to stay until they fill it, sometimes that can be slightly different. It’s called mitigating damages. You’re helping the school district, so they are not out, and you’re not abandoning their classroom.
There are lots of different factors and things in play. Timing is essential.
Also, if the school district is breaching its contract, they’re not providing the services it agreed for you. They’re making you do things you’re not contracted to do or not paying you—stuff like that may be considered a breach of contract. And that’s another way you may be able to end your employment with them during a mid-school year. But again, these things are very fact sensitive.
There’s a lot of tension between educators and school districts. I always recommend that you advise an attorney familiar with these situations to prevent yourself from having any restrictions on your license so that you can continue being an educator.
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