Q: We are issuing teacher contracts for the 2017-2018 school year next week. We have had some issues in the past with teachers timely returning their signed contract. Do we have any recourse if a teacher fails to meet the deadline stated in the contract?
A: Yes. Assuming you have a standard “Expiration of Offer” clause in your employee contracts, the failure of an employee to return the contract timely results in an automatic resignation effective at the end of the current school year.
Standard TASB contracts, both term and probationary, contain a provision entitled “Expiration of Offer,” which provides:
Expiration of Offer. This offer of employment contract shall expire unless you sign and return this Contract, without changes, to the Superintendent on or before [RETURN DATE]. If you are currently employed under a contract with the District and you fail to sign and return this Contract, without changes, by the return date, you shall be deemed to have resigned from employment at the end of your existing contract term.
This contract provision has been reviewed and held enforceable by the Commissioner of Education. Thus, an employee presented a contract with the above language who fails to return the document by the date provided resigns his or her employment at the end of the current contract year and the Board’s offer of employment for the subsequent school year is withdrawn. This resignation is considered “automatically accepted” under Board Policy DFE (LOCAL) because it is effective at the end of the contract term. However, as a belt-and-suspenders measure, it may be wise to send the employee a written notice of the failure to timely return their signed contract and acceptance of his or her resignation effective at the end of the current school year. Closely monitoring the calendar for compliance will result in consistent enforcement of the contract provision.