Tips For Teachers
By Bettina A. Davies
Education is an honored profession in Georgia governed by numerous constitutional provisions, state laws, and local school-district policies, regulations and guidelines. At Cauthorn Nohr & Owen, we help teachers navigate this confusing and complicated terrain when legal issues or questions arise. Here are some tips for Georgia teachers:
Talk to an attorney BEFORE you quit your teaching job. If a teacher resigns from a position without the consent of the employer, it is considered a breach of contract and abandonment of position. It can affect the status of the teacher’s teaching certificate, and he or she can be sued for breach of contract. A contract can be terminated: • By mutual agreement — The resignation of the employee and the acceptance of such resignation by the employer. • By dismissal from employment for cause after a hearing is held.
Don’t assume you can say whatever you want at school. Under limited circumstances, an educator’s constitutional right to free speech can be limited within the school setting.
You don’t have to be tenured to have contract rights. A non-tenured teacher’s contract can be non-renewed when a school system states in writing that the teacher’s services are no longer needed. The system must send this notice out by May 15. Upon request, a written explanation for failure to renew a contract must be made available to any certified personnel by the superintendent. Non-renewal of contract of a non-tenured teacher can be challenged successfully if the non-renewal is based on constitutionally impermissible grounds, such as age or race discrimination.
Bettina A. Davies is a network attorney for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and concentrates her practice in the areas of educational and employment-rights law.