Statute defines an educator contract break during the school year – when a teacher leaves or resigns before getting the governing board’s approval – as unprofessional conduct, which previously led to an automatic six-month suspension, but now it’s a letter of censure in the teacher’s state file, noting that if there’s another in five years it’s an automatic two-year suspension.
“In light of the educator discipline process, the State Board asked for a proposal to remove the board’s jurisdiction on contract breaks to re-prioritize the efforts of the investigative unit and the board toward more serious offenses that endanger student health and safety,” said Alicia Williams, executive director of the Arizona State Board of Education in an interview with AZEdNews.
But some school leaders and education advocates are against the proposal.
“If somebody breaks the contract and walks out, we now have a huge hole for students. It affects their classroom, it affects their learning,” said Dr. Debbi Burdick, superintendent of Cave Creek Unified School District.
The current guideline on educator contract discipline “gives us a little teeth when somebody comes and says, ‘I’ve decided to leave and go to another district where I could be paid more,’” said Dr. Burdick.