It’s the time of year when teachers and administrators with expiring contracts begin thinking about the possibility of a dreaded non-renewal. Generally, boards of education (“Boards”) may non-renew eligible contracts for any nondiscriminatory reason, except that the basis for teacher non-renewals must be clear and substantial, and administrator evaluations must, at least, be considered in non-renewal determinations. However, the validity of non-renewal for teachers and administrators is dependent upon important deadlines and evaluation requirements. Failure of a Board to adhere to these requirements results in automatic renewal of a contract.
Non-renewal of teacher contracts requires the Board to ensure that evaluations are timely completed, that notice is timely given, and that an opportunity to be heard is timely provided. Unless all of the following requirements of non-renewal are met, a teacher’s limited contract will be automatically renewed:
- Evaluation Requirements – by May 1st in the year in which the teacher’s contract expires, the Board must perform an additional formal 30-minute observation, totaling three formal observations, on top of the required minimum two classroom walkthroughs. The results of the evaluations must be provided to the teacher by May 10th.
- Notice Requirement: on or before June 1st of the year in which a teacher’s contract expires, either by personal service or by certified mail, the Board must notify the teacher in writing of its intent to non-renew their contract.
- Statement Requirement*: within ten days of receipt of the Board’s intent to non-renew, the teacher may file with the treasurer a written demand for a statement of the circumstances which led the Board to non-renew. Within ten days of the teacher’s demand for a statement, the treasurer must issue a written statement to the teacher containing a clear and substantial basis for and an express statement of the reasons for the non-renewal.
- Hearing Requirement*: within five days of receipt of the treasurer’s statement, the teacher may file a written demand with the treasurer for a hearing with the Board. Within ten days of receipt of a teacher’s demand for a hearing, the treasurer must provide the teacher written notice of the date, time, and location of the hearing, which must be scheduled within 40 days of service of the demand for a hearing.
*Both the statement and hearing requirements are contingent upon the teacher making timely demands for the same.
A teacher must notify the Board in writing on or before June 15th if the teacher does not wish to accept re-employment for the following year.
Non-renewal of administrator contracts requires lesser process than that of teacher contract non-renewals, but non-renewal thereof still requires that evaluations be timely performed, that notice be timely given, and that an opportunity to meet with the Board be provided. Unless all of the following requirements of non-renewal are met, an administrator’s contract will be automatically renewed:
- Evaluation Requirements – in years in which administrators’ contracts expire, the administrators must receive two evaluations: one preliminary and one final. A written copy of the preliminary evaluation must be provided to the administrator at least 60 days before the Board takes action on the administrator’s contract, which may occur on or before June 1st. A written copy of the final evaluation containing the superintendent’s recommendation* must be provided to the administrator at least five days before the Board takes action on the administrator’s contract, which may occur on or before June 1st.
- Notice Requirement: on or before June 1st of the year in which an administrator’s contract expires, either by personal service or by certified mail, the Board must notify the administrator in writing of its intent to non-renew their contract.
- Meeting Requirement*: on or before June 1st of the year in which an administrator’s contract expires, the Board must notify the administrator in writing* that the administrator may request a meeting with the Board in executive session to discuss the reasons for nonrenewal. The Board must grant this meeting if the administrator requests it.
*Failure of the final evaluation to include the superintendent’s recommendation will not defeat an otherwise valid non-renewal.
**This written notice is not required to be delivered by any particular means, so regular mail, hand-delivery of a letter or note, or an email will suffice.
An administrator must notify the Board in writing on or before June 15th if the administrator does not wish to accept re-employment for the following year.
A few important reminders: (1) if a school district, pursuant to a federal court order, is or has ever been under the Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction, the deadlines and nuances of non-renewal vary; please contact an attorney as soon as you suspect non-renewal is a possibility. Additionally, (2) the prerequisites to non-renewal discussed in this article are minimum requirements, so collective bargaining agreements may include additional negotiated prerequisites to non-renewal; and (3) teachers and administrators should keep in mind that if they contract for employment in the upcoming year, they may only resign without board approval and without the possibility of discipline by the Ohio Department of Education if they provide five days written notice of resignation on or before July 10th.
Authored by Morgan M. Masters, Esq. of Albeit Weiker, LLP
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provide five days written notice of resignation on or before July 10th.