Q: I have a term contract teacher whose performance has been lacking this past year in regards to classroom management and instruction. I am not ready to recommend the proposed nonrenewal of her contract because she is in a highly desired field that would be difficult to replace. Can I offer this teacher a probationary contract next year rather than a term contract?
A: Yes, provided that you give the teacher written notice of this decision, an opportunity to consult with an attorney or teacher organization, and three days to consider the offer.
A term contract may be ended only by termination for good cause, nonrenewal or by the teacher’s resignation. Otherwise, the teacher’s contract will renew by operation of law if no specific action is taken to renew or nonrenew the contract. Texas Education Code 21.206(b). A small exception is carved out in Texas Education Code section 21.106(c) which provides that a teacher may agree to be returned to probationary status under certain conditions. This agreement may occur after the superintendent has communicated the intention to recommend the teacher’s proposed termination for good cause or nonrenewal to the board. To make the agreement valid, the statute requires that written notice is given to the teacher that:
1. Informs the teacher of the district’s offer to return him or her to probationary contract status;
2. The period during which the teacher may consider the offer (must be at least three district business days); and
3. The teacher’s right to seek counsel (or contact their teacher organization).
Should the teacher consider the offer and agree, the board is free to renew employment under a probationary contract for the next year. However, should the teacher refuse, the district will either need to offer the teacher a term contract for the following year or begin proceedings to propose the teacher’s nonrenewal or termination.