Breach of contract
I heard that there is a law that states if I have signed a contract to teach for the following year, I have until July 1st to resign from that contract. Is that true? Would there be any penalties for doing so?
No, its not true. There is a statute and an administrative rule that provide that a school district can request that the Board of Public Education take action against your teaching license for breaking a contract under certain circumstances. See below for a copy of the pertinent part of the statute and the rule. These requirements however, have no connection to other legal ramifications you may incur for breaking a contract. I recommend that you read your contract carefully - there should be language regarding termination provisions - and contact an attorney of your choosing if you need further clarification. MCA 20-4-110. Letter of reprimand, suspension, revocation, and denial of certificate. (1) The board of public education may issue a letter of reprimand or may suspend or revoke the teacher, administrator, or specialist certificate of any person for the following reasons: *** (g) substantial and material nonperformance of the employment contract between the teacher, administrator, or specialist and the trustees of a school or school district without good cause or the written consent of the trustees; or *** (2) The board may initiate proceedings under this section if a request for the suspension or revocation of the teacher, administrator, or specialist certificate of any person is made to it by: (a) the trustees of a district as to a teacher, administrator, or specialist employed by that school or school district within the 12 months immediately preceding receipt of the request by the board of public education; *** ARM 10.57.611 SUBSTANTIAL AND MATERIAL NON-PERFORMANCE (1) A licensed staff member commits a violation of 20-4-110, MCA, if, after signing a binding contract of employment with a Montana school district, the licensed staff member substantially and materially breaches such contract without good cause. (2) "Good cause" shall be determined by the board on a case-by-case basis. The following are examples of good cause: (a) substantial hardship to the licensed staff member's family due to a change in employment of the spouse of the licensed staff member that necessitates a move; (b) illness of a family member of the licensed staff member that necessitates a move for purposes of providing for, caring for, or tending to the ill family member; or (c) intolerable working conditions, judged on the same basis as constructive discharge under Montana law. (3) Licensed staff members violating 20-4-110(1)(g), MCA shall be penalized according to the following guidelines: (a) a first violation committed not more than 30 calendar days prior to the beginning of the school year may result in a sanction not to exceed placement of a letter of reprimand in the licensed staff member's public record certification file; (b) a first violation committed on or after school starts shall result in a sanction ranging from placement of a letter of reprimand in the licensed staff member's public record licensure file to temporary suspension of the licensed staff member's license for not more than 30 days; and (c) a second or subsequent violation shall result in a sanction ranging from a temporary suspension of the licensed staff member's license to revocation of the license. (4) In considering the sanction, if any, to impose for a violation, the board will consider the following: (a) the length of prior notice, if any, provided to the employing board by the licensed staff member; (b) the arrangements made and resources provided by the licensed staff member to ensure continuing instruction to pupils; (c) the difficulties faced by the employing district in recruiting a suitable replacement; (d) the impact of the licensed staff member's breach of contract on the district's compliance with accreditation standards; and (e) other hardships suffered by the employing district as a result of the licensed staff member's breach of contract. (5) This rule provides guidelines only and shall not be construed to either require or to prohibit the board from exercising its discretion in overseeing discipline of license holders. (History: Sec. 20-2-114, 20-2-121, MCA; IMP, Sec. 20-2-121, 20-4-110, MCA; NEW, 2002 MAR p. 1549, Eff. 5/31/02; TRANS, 2002 MAR p. 3309, Eff. 11/28/02; AMD, 2003 MAR p. 554, Eff. 3/28/03.
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