Q: Can a school district prevent you from teaching for the next school year if you request release from your contract?
I had signed my contract in May after the district said they would take it as a resignation for anyone that did not turn in a signed contract by the end of May 2021. I have kids to support so out of fear of unemployment I signed the contract. There were teachers resigning left and right. The deadline given for June I thought was an extension to turn in contracts. I actually live 1 hour and 15 minutes from the district I work for. I was offered a job at a district 20 minutes from my house in July 2021. I requested a resignation and the school I signed with said no and if I left I would be barred from teaching in Arkansas for the next school year (2021-2022 or 2022-2023). Now I teach with the district I was forced to stay with and literally fear for my safety. We have had a record number of fights and threats this year and the students refuse to do the work and listen. I can request to be released from my contract but I will need another job. Can they really prevent me from teaching?
A: Thanks and you should speak to an Arkansas employment and education law attorney. The Arkansas Teacher Fair Dismissal Act does provide some protections to teachers, and many districts will release teachers from their contracts under circumstances similar to the ones you identified. By working with an attorney, perhaps your district would do the same. In particular, your concern for your safety should be communicated in writing to your district.
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