Summer 2016

ATPE News is the official publication of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the largest educator association in Texas. The magazine addresses the most important issues affecting public education in the state. Learn more at

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Page 12 of 43

by Jennifer Canaday, ATPE Governmental Relations Director your ally. your voice. | 13 summer 2016 abandoned his or her contract without good cause has been a one-year suspension of teaching credentials, usually starting from the date of the abandonment. Mitigating factors have re- duced sanctions, while exacerbating factors, such as an educator repeatedly abandoning contracts, have increased the sanctions. The rules also now state what efforts an educator may take to mitigate the effect of leaving and reduce the sanction that SBEC decides to impose. These mitigating measures are: • the educator gave written notice to the school district two weeks or more in advance of the frst day of instruction for which the educator will not be present; • the educator assisted the school district in fnding a replacement educator to fll the position; • the educator continued to work until the school district hired a replacement educator; • the educator assisted in training the replacement educator; • the educator showed good faith in communications and negotiations with school district; and • the educator provided lesson plans for classes following his or her resignation. Again, making these efforts does not guarantee the educator will avoid SBEC sanctions. These efforts may simply be taken into consideration when determining what the sanction will be. As noted above, historically, a one-year suspension was the most common penalty for abandonment without good cause or mitigation. The fnal addition to the SBEC rules codifes this long-time practice. The rules now provide that unless the educator had good cause to abandon the contract or had mitigated the effects of departure as provided by the statutory list provided above, the minimum penalty for an educator abandoning a contract shall be: • suspension for one year from the frst day that, without dis- trict permission, the educator failed to appear for work un- der the contract, provided that the educator has not worked as an educator during that year, and the case is resolved within that one year through an agreed fnal order; or • suspension for one year from either the effective date of an agreed fnal order resolving the case or an agreed future date at the beginning of the following school year, if the educator has worked as an educator after abandoning the contract; or • suspension for one year from the date that SBEC adopts an order that becomes fnal following a contested case hearing at the State Offce of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). A suspension is no small thing; it means the certifcate is not valid during the suspension period, and the educator must apply for reactivation and go through another criminal back- ground check. In addition, the suspension will become a part of the teacher's permanent record. Most, if not all, employment While planning a presentation for the 2016 Summit, ATPE's lobbyists discussed how our presentations are called "legislative updates," even during years that the Texas legislature does not convene. Advocating for ATPE involves more than shaping legislation and showing up for legislative sessions. Our lobbyists work in diverse ways, even during so-called interim years. For example, your professional rights and responsibilities are regulated by both legislators you elect and appointed policymakers. State boards and agencies continuously engage in rulemaking processes to implement laws passed by the legislature. As you read in Paul Tapp's column, SBEC rules directly impact your livelihood, which is why ATPE's lobbying work also covers state boards like SBEC, whose members are appointed by the governor. Another gubernatorial appointee, the commissioner of education, also adopts rules that affect you, such as recommending a new appraisal system for educators. The fact that educators can't readily "vote out" an appointed state offcial makes it even more important for ATPE's lobbyists to build relationships with those policymakers and serve as your voice in rulemaking that occurs year round. At the same time we're covering rulemaking, giving input at interim legislative hearings, meeting candidates, and working with coalitions, we stand ready to intervene whenever and wherever developments arise. That can mean jetting off to DC on a moment's notice to ensure that our members' voices are heard, as ATPE Lobbyist Josh Sanderson did when Congress held a Social Security hearing this spring. As your lobbyists, we are guided by expertise and vigilance. Our workplace is vast, and for us, there is no "interim." As always, you can read the latest advocacy updates and learn more about ATPE's efforts at And check out our new resources on T-TESS and Districts of Innovation at and SERVING AS YOUR VOICE continued on page 39

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