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Legal Help - step by step      

1.  Call to speak with Ray Pieniazek, Executive Director at 512-472-3128 or email ray@texasagteachers.org.  Do not call our lawyers unless you have been referred to them.

2.  Have any documentation that you may have written for school in a statement or documents they have given you.

3.  If you have no written statements, please write down an accurate account of the situation you are calling about so that it can be shared with the lawyers if needed.

4.  Some issues may not need a lawyer, it may be as simple as drafting a proper response.

5.  If you have been asked to resign, do not resign until you have called the association or spoken to a lawyer.

6.  You will be referred if it something that a lawyer is better suited to handle.

Frequently Asked Questions      
  1. I need legal help. Can I call the lawyer directly?
    You will need to speak to the Executive Director first to determine if legal assistance is needed.
    Once it is determined a lawyer would be the best option for the situation, the Executive Director will gather information including contact information such as a cell phone and personal email to send to the lawyer who will in turn reach out to the member in need of assistance.

  2. I want to resign during my contract year. What are the circumstances under which I can?  What are the consequences of doing so?
    If you are resigning during, then you may take the chance of the school district placing a hold on your certificate. 
    According to Texas Education code, you may resign under the following situations:  
    by giving a written notice of resignation no later than the 45th day before the 1st day of instruction 
    Consent from the board of trustees
    If you want resign during a contract year, the following reasons may be considered good cause to resign:
    A serious health condition of the educator or a family member of the educator.
    Relocation to a new city as a result of a change in employer of the educators spouse or partner
    A significant change in the educators family’s need that require the educator to relocate or devote more time than allowed by current employment
    A move within the education system that is considered a move up or advancement.  Example teacher to counselor, administrator, etc.
    It is always a good idea to have conversations with your supervisor prior to making any decisions which might affect your contract.
    If you need to resign, give as much notice as possible, assist in the location of and/or training of the replacement, and consider leaving lesson plans for the meanwhile.
    Understand they can deny you leaving until a suitable replacement is found.  They can also put a flag on your teaching certificate if you leave anyway for what would be deemed as contract abandonment.

  3. I received a writeup from my supervisor.  What do I do, and do I have to sign it?
    The document will more than likely state something you do not agree with. It is just an acknowledgement you have received. When you sign it, you may state that you do not agree with it and will be providing a rebuttal or response to it. Failure to sign it may indicate insubordination and provide more problems for you.
    You usually have 10 days to respond in writing. It is best to acknowledge it and state you will do a better job at fulfilling what is being asked of you. If you do not agree, provide facts to support your disagreement with it.  Do not give opinions, only provide what is factual and that you can back up with evidence like emails and written correspondence.  
    The Executive Director can assist you with the response and/or provide you with assistance from the association's legal support.

  4. My contract is not being renewed.  I want to stay where I am, what can I do?
    The first question to ask is what type of contract do you have - Probationary or term/extended.
    If you have a probationary contract, which is usually what you are on at a new school for at least three years, you may not have that much recourse to fight the situation. Districts may simply say you are not the right person for their program.  In place of being non-renewed, you should always take the option of resigning.  If you are nonrenewed you must state that on your application.  If you feel that you have not been offered a new contract wrongfully, please contact the Executive Director for assistance.

    If you are on a term contract and they decide to non-renew you, you may request assistance from the Executive Director to work to see about getting a contract renewal. The district will usually need documentation at a level that supports their nonrenewal for persistent violations of district policy or the Texas Educator Code of Ethics.

    Call us if you want assistance with your contract.
  5. I was called in to the principal’s office and told I was placed on Administrative Leave.  What should I do?
    You must follow exactly what the administrator tells you to do.
    You may or may not be able to get your personal belongings at the time of being placed on administrative leave. You may ask to do this and that is acceptable.
    You will be on leave until they have completed their investigation of the circumstances under which you are being placed on leave.
    Follow the instructions your supervisor will give you in regarding contact with other staff, teaching partners, parents, and students. It is best to not answer any phone calls, email or text messages that might be asking about your situation.
    Please contact the Executive Director as soon as you are placed on administrative leave so we can get you legal assistance, if needed.
    Your leave will most likely be more than one day, and probably even a week or more depending on the circumstances.

  6. I have paid my dues and I am wondering what the million dollar liability insurance covers?
    There are two levels of coverage in our insurance.  
    Coverage A -Protection of your assets if named in a lawsuit due to an event arising in the course and scope of your employment.
    Coverage B - Reimbursement of attorney fees related to cases involving any of the following:
    Supervision, tenure, salary, leave of absence or dismissal
    Allegations of improper discipline of a student
    Allegations of improper contact with a student
    Allegations of sexual harassment
    Allegations of violation of civil rights
    Certification on licensure
    If you are involved in a lawsuit, our attorneys can represent you.
    Under Coverage A - pays up to 1,000,000 per insured per occurrence plus the cost of defense, investigation and legal fees.
    Under Coverage B - up to $5,000 per insured
    If you have a legal issue, you need to contact the Executive Director.
  7. How important is documentation in assisting with any issue that I have with my school?
    It cannot be emphasized too much that written documentation is ultra important in discussing any issue with you.  The more you can get answers to questions is writing the better off you are.  Anytime you have a question try to get it in writing.  If you have a verbal conversation with someone, follow up with an email stating what was discussed and send it to them so it is on record what has been discussed with them.  Emails, handwritten notes, texts are all examples of documents that can be considered important.
  8. If I do not agree with a write up from my administrator or I think I have a problem with district policy,  what is my first step?
    Our lawyer will say you need to exhaust all avenues through your local policy before it becomes a legal issue in most cases.  Many times a Level 1 grievance may solve the issue.  Your district policy can be found on your school district site, refer to it as to what are the steps in the grievance policy.  If you need assistance in writing the grievance the executive director and possibly the lawyer can assist you.  

Legal Coverage Brochure      
NameDate AddedSize
Legal Coverage Brochure 4/16/2021 308 KB

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