Temporary Contracts And The Law, Oh My!

I am fairly certain that my first principal did not follow the law when he hired me. Unfortunately, I was not as up to date on the law as I should have been, so there is nothing I can do about it. This, I imagine, is one of the downfalls of being alternatively certified. I imagine that those who have gone through an teacher training program will have taken classes in education-related law and will have been coached by their instructors on the proper hiring procedures.

So, I don't have a leg to stand on legally, but I can tell you my story to prevent anyone else from experiencing this.

Last year, I had an interview, and then received a call to return. Woohoo! I remember being elated that I was getting a callback. At the end of the second interview, the principal offered me my first teaching job at a small high school. I was so excited I couldn't think straight. My prayers were being answered!

I know that the principal did not have my contract at that time. I know this because I remember receiving my contract a couple of weeks later while sitting at my desk in my room. I remember this because I felt dismayed that my contract was temporary. I had thought — mistakenly — that I was being hired as a probationary teacher. I remember doing some asking around and finding out that it was normal for first year teachers to be hired on a temporary contract, so I signed the document and didn't think anything else about it.

At least, not until recently, when I read this portion of our state law:

No teacher shall be offered a temporary contract with a school district without a full written disclosure at the time a position is offered by the administration of the school district which sets forth the terms and conditions of the temporary contract. In the event the school district fails to provide such written disclosure, the teacher shall be considered as employed on a continuing contract basis.

–Teacher Due Process Act of 1990, 70 O.S. § 6-101.20

Had I properly educated myself, I might not have actually been on a temporary contract, technically speaking…

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

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