Q: Are the rumors true—did the Legislature narrow the ability to sanction a teacher’s certificate for resigning during the summer without permission?
A: Yes and no. While a school district may still seek sanctions against a teacher who fails to resign 45 days or more before the first day of instruction, effective September 1, 2021, the sanction by SBEC cannot be suspending or revoking their teaching certificate if the teacher resigns at least 30 days before the first day of instruction.
Under the current provisions in Chapter 21 of the Education Code, if a teacher submits his or her resignation 45 days or more before the first day of instruction for the following school year, then the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) cannot revoke or suspend the teacher’s certificate as a sanction. On June 18, 2021, Governor Abbott signed House Bill 2519 into law, which includes several changes to Chapter 21 of the Texas Education Code that are scheduled to take effect on September 1, 2021. The Bill’s author noted that the changes were the result of “calls to update and clarify SBEC policies for disciplinary proceedings, which ultimately can lead to career-ending consequences for offenses that amount to minor administrative matters, such as method of resignation.”
One of the substantive changes in the Bill includes extending the period in which teachers may resign during the summer without having their teaching certificate revoked or suspended by SBEC. This is not to say a teacher cannot still receive a sanction or a school district seek one; instead, the new law merely creates a grace period in which SBEC’s authority to administrator sanctions is limited. Specifically, there will be a 15-day window (between 45 days and 30 days before the first day of instruction) that a teacher can resign without permission and the school district can seek sanctions, but SBEC’s sanctions cannot include suspension or revocation of a teaching certificate for a resignation that is submitted during the 15-day grace period.
For specific questions or additional information regarding the upcoming changes to Chapter 21, please contact your local school law attorney.