By POE’s Legal Team
It’s that time of year again when the POE legal department sends out our information and reminder about Oklahoma’s continuing contract and notification law. The notification deadlines for both teachers and school districts are in June. Here is a summary of the dates this year to pay attention to and a few related issues:
Under the current law, school districts must notify teachers by the “first Monday in June” (June 6, 2022) of any recommendation for non-reemployment of that teacher. If teachers have not received notification by June 6, 2022, then the teachers are on a “continuing contract” for the 2022-23 school year unless that teacher wants to leave for another school district, which triggers the teacher’s notification deadline.
Teachers have until “15 days after the first Monday in June” (June 21, 2022) to notify his/her current school district of the teacher’s intent not to return to that particular district for the next ensuing school year (2022-23).
A teacher who wants to leave their current school district and teach at another public school in Oklahoma must notify the current district prior to June 21, 2022. If notification is given after this deadline, then that teacher will need a release from the current school district to go and teach somewhere else for the next year.
If no notification is given by the teacher and no release is given by the district, a teacher’s current district can petition the State Department of Education to have that teacher’s teaching certificate rescinded for that next school year if that teacher leaves and teaches at another district in Oklahoma during the next year.
Letters of Intent
Sometimes, school districts request teachers to sign or fill out a “notice of intent” or “letter of intent” trying to ascertain that teacher’s intentions for coming back to that particular school district. These letters are often provided at this time of the year, much earlier than the June 21, 2022 deadline. These documents ask for your present intent at that time and are subject to change in our opinion. So, for example, if you state that on March 1, 2022, you intend to come back to your District for the next school year later in May decide to take another job somewhere else, you will then need to notify the District by June 21 of your then changed intent to leave the District.
I have advised many teachers who may be looking for other positions but who have not yet finalized anything to state “I don’t know” with respect to their intent to return. For those teachers that see no possible situation in which they would leave, then I advise them to state that intent to the District as knowing this information can often help the District in making personnel and other decisions.
Finally, remember that these notification deadlines do not apply to teachers who are employed on a temporary contract. These temporary contracts do not provide continuing contracts rights and likewise do not require notification from the teacher to leave the current district in which they teach. By the very nature of the temporary contract, it expires at the end of the school year.
If you have any questions about continuing contract law or these letters of intent, please contact our legal department at 405.701.5990 or 888.331.2763.