Q: Recently, our district lost a promising teacher candidate to another district because we could not offer her a contract without board approval. During this competitive hiring season, is there a way to speed up the approval process so we don’t lose any other qualified prospective teachers?
A: Yes. Your board can delegate final hiring authority to the superintendent, pursuant to TEC §11.1513. Most school boards prefer to retain final hiring authority during the school year, but some boards chose to delegate full hiring authority to the superintendent during summer months to avoid losing qualified candidates during the period of delay caused by the 72 hour posting requirements of the Open Meetings Act.
Texas Education Code (TEC) §11.1513(a)(2) allows a school board to delegate final authority for hiring decisions to the superintendent. While it is common for boards to delegate the authority to hire non-contract personnel to the superintendent, most school boards wish to retain final hiring authority for employees under Chapter 21 contracts. During the summer months, competition for qualified personnel is at its highest, and many districts wish to expedite the hiring process so as not to miss out on talented educators. To achieve this goal, districts may revise DC (LOCAL) policy to delegate final hiring authority for contract personnel to the Superintendent during summer months only. The board can define “summer months” to fit the needs of the District – some boards choose June 1st through August 1st, others delegate authority from the last instructional day until the September board meeting. Below is sample language to include in the “Employment of Contractual Personnel” section of DC (LOCAL):
“The Board retains final authority for the employment of contractual personnel; however, from June 1 to August 1, the Board delegates to the Superintendent or designee the authority to employ classroom teachers. The Superintendent shall inform the Board of any persons offered a term contract under this authority. [See DCA, DCB, DCC, and DCE as appropriate.]”
Districts located in a county with a population of fewer than 35,000 may also be able to avoid certain nepotism conflicts through this summer-only delegation practice. TEC §11.1513(f) states that if the board delegates final authority to select district personnel to the superintendent, the superintendent and each board member is subject to the nepotism requirements of the Texas Government Code. However, subsection (g) carves out an exception for districts located in “small counties” (< 35,000). In this exception, if the board delegates final hiring authority for the summer, the Superintendent may not hire his or her relatives, but will be able to hire otherwise prohibited relatives of the board members during those months.