Laws that govern education employment

Probationary Status

Teachers in Colorado are considered to be probationary-status for the first three years of employment in a school district and are entitled to a one-year employment contract. The district cannot dismiss the teacher within that year, except by following a dismissal process (Colorado law). At the end of the one-year contract, teachers may face non-renewal of their contract. The district does not need to follow dismissal procedures to non-renew a teacher but is required to notify the teacher of non-renewal before June 1. Teachers who are not renewed can submit, in writing, a request to the superintendent for the reason for non-renewal and the district is required to respond, in writing, to that request. Teachers may not be non-renewed for such things as speaking out in public, belonging to a union, or for any discriminatory reasons, such as race, gender, age, religion or disability. Should a teacher decide to resign in lieu of accepting the non-renewal of their contract the teacher may become ineligible for unemployment benefits.

After the initial three year probationary period, teachers become non-probationary, provided that for the full three years the teacher was licensed by the State of Colorado and had no break in service (not including scheduled breaks or illness) and have received effective or higher ratings all three years.  (22-63-203.)

Non-probationary status

Once reemployed for the fourth consecutive year in the same district, a teacher is considered non-probationary. Time accrued in the district on probationary status counts toward attainment of non-probationary status provided the teacher holds a current Colorado teaching license and works full-time and continuously with no breaks in service (illness and approved leaves aren’t breaks).

Colorado’s Teacher Employment, Compensation and Dismissal Act covers employment of non-probationary teachers. A teacher cannot be dismissed under this law unless the district can prove one of several grounds: incompetency, neglect of duty, immorality, unsatisfactory performance, insubordination, a felony conviction, or other good and just cause.

Starting in the 2014/15 school year, a non-probationary teacher who is rated less than effective for two consecutive years will lose their non-probationary status. Click here for more information.

Non-probationary Portability

Beginning with the 2014/15 school year, a non-probationary teacher who is hired by a new district, and shows effective ratings for the previous two years, will be considered non-probationary in their new position in the hiring district. It is the teacher’s responsibility to show the effective ratings to their new district.  (22-63-203.5.)

Dismissal

A teacher may be dismissed for physical or mental disability, incompetency, neglect of duty, immorality, unsatisfactory performance, insubordination, the conviction of a felony, or other “good and just cause.” No teacher can be dismissed for temporary illness, a leave of absence previously approved by the BoE or military leave. (22-63-301.)

The school district is required to follow dismissal procedures (22-63-302.) and the teacher is entitled to a dismissal hearing, conducted by an impartial hearing officer chosen jointly by the teacher and the district. The district is charged with the burden of proof for cause for dismissal. The BoE may make a decision to dismiss over the hearing officer’s recommendation of retention, but must make a conclusion, giving its reasons, which must be supported by the hearing officer’s findings of fact–all included in its written order, of which the teacher is provided a copy. Teachers have the right to appeal a dismissal decision. Under this law, there is a hearing process with written charges, administrative leave with pay, the right to representation, and other guarantees.

Tenure

There is no tenure in Colorado; only due process under state law and the right to a fair dismissal. Tenure laws changed in the early 1990’s.

Resigning?

Teachers are required to give thirty days notice to break their teaching contract. Failure to do so allows the district to withhold or collect either (a) the usual expense required to replace the teacher, or (b) one twelfth of the teacher’s salary (whichever is less).

Teachers who desire to resign at the end of the school year must give at least thirty days written notice before the start of the new school year. Failure to do so allows the district to withhold part of the teacher’s pay.

Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires an employer to provide employees with up to twelve weeks of leave to care for their families or themselves without losing their jobs. Employees can use this leave for birth, adoption, or foster care; to care for their child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition; to recuperate from their own serious illness or health condition.

Intellectual property

Lessons and units that a teacher creates, if used in their classroom become the intellectual property of the school district. If a teacher has created lessons and has never taught them in the district, the teacher can ask for an agreement to retain the property rights ahead of time.

Questions

If a teacher has specific questions he/she should contact our office at 720-389-9829.

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