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FAQ: Contracts, Leave, and More

Does the district have the right to check to see if I have a criminal record?

Yes. The district must obtain criminal history information that relates to an applicant for whom an offer of employment is being considered.

No more than twice each year, the district is entitled to obtain criminal history information that relates to a person who is a current employee of the district. Criminal history record information obtained by the district shall not be released or disclosed to any person, other than the individual who is the subject of the information. However, the district must notify the Commissioner of Education of a certified applicant’s conviction of any felony or misdemeanor involving illegal conduct with a child that is disclosed in the criminal history record.

Can I be forced to get a new teaching certificate in order to teach?

A teacher must give written consent to the activation of a new certificate. A teacher who refuses to consent to the activation of a certificate may not be terminated or non-renewed or otherwise retaliated against because of the teacher’s refusal to consent to the activation of the certificate. If a certificate is activated for a teacher under these circumstances, the teacher shall be offered the opportunity to return to his or her previous assignment or an alternative assignment for which the teacher is fully certified on that campus as soon as such an assignment is available.

Can my principal require me to do duty before or after school?

Yes. The last clause of most teacher contracts states that the teacher will “perform other duties assigned by the principal.” This includes many types of duty.

I am going to have to take a leave of absence from my job. What rights do l have?

If you are sick, you have the right to use your sick leave. However, many times public school employees must take a leave which will last longer than their accumulated sick leave. If you want to stay home longer because of a newborn, the adoption of a child, family illness, or personal illness, you might want to take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

To qualify for the rights provided by this law, you must have worked for the same district for at least 12 months, you must have worked for at least 1,250 hours in the past year, you must work for a company with at least 50 employees, and there must be 50 employees who work within 75 miles of your work site. If you meet these qualifications, you are entitled to take a total of 12 weeks off work without pay, keep any health insurance you already have, and get your old job back, or a job with equal pay, status and benefits, when you return. This law covers male and female workers. However, when a husband and wife work for the same employer, the total amount of leave they may take is limited to 12 weeks if they are taking leave for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a sick parent.

“Very sick” means you (or your family member) require hospital care or continuing medical treatment. The district may ask for proof of the illness. The law requires that, if possible, you give the district at least 30 days’ notice before taking the leave. The Board of Trustees must also grant to a certified, full-time employee a leave of absence for temporary disability at any time the employee’s condition interferes with the performance of regular duties. During this time, the district cannot terminate the employment of the employee. Temporary disability includes pregnancy. Again, this is an unpaid leave.

What types of leave are available?

All employees are granted 5 personal leave days a year by state law. Most districts add to these days.

Most districts also provide leave for short-term military assignments, religious observances, compliance with a subpoena, personal business, funerals, jury duty, professional reasons, and study. These leaves differ in most districts. Most districts give the superintendent the authority to grant paid and unpaid leaves in certain cases.

For more information regarding leaves, please see Board Policy DEC or call the UEA office.

Can the district require me to obtain a medical examination?

Yes. The district may require an employee to have a medical examination if job performance is affected. Information obtained regarding the medical condition or history of an employee shall be maintained on separate forms and in separate files. This information shall be treated as confidential medical files.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is verbal or physical conduct that denigrates an employee or shows hostility or aversion toward an employee because of his or her gender and that has one or more of the following characteristics:

      • Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment; or
      • Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance; or
      • Otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment opportunities.

Harassing conduct includes:

      • epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, or threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts that relate to gender and
      • written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of gender and that is placed on walls, bulletin boards, or elsewhere on district premises, or is circulated in the workplace.

What is included in my personnel file?

In addition to employee records required by TEA, the files may include evaluation reports, awards and commendations, supplemental documentation relating to job performance, leave and absence records, retirement and social security forms, health certificates and medical information, insurance forms, personal identification data, and exit interview reports.

Can I get a copy of the information in my personnel file?

All information contained in your personnel file shall be made available to you or to your designated representative under the Open Records Act. With administrative approval, you have the right to add information.

What is a grievance?

A grievance is a formal complaint which charges that a district has acted in a way which violated the law, board policy, or a sense of fairness. The purpose of the grievance policy is to provide employees with an orderly process for the resolution of complaints. It is against board policy for either the Board of Trustees or the administration to retaliate unlawfully against any employee who brings a complaint under the district’s grievance policy.

Can I charge for tutoring a student in my class?

No. Teachers cannot privately tutor their own students for pay, except during the summer months.

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