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Teacher and Administrator Contract Renewals, Non-Renewals and Dismissal

Non-Renewal, Non-Extension, and Dismissal of Licensed Staff and Administrators

The Oregon statutes provide procedural requirements for Districts regarding decisions of non-renewal, non-extension, and dismissal of licensed and administrative staff.

District policies, collective bargaining agreements, and administrator contracts are determined by school Boards and may contain provisions unique to their Districts. It is important to review all pertinent documents prior to beginning any adverse employment action.

Below is procedural information based on the Oregon Statutes outlined in a FAQ format.

OSBA advises any District considering an employee discharge or termination to consult legal counsel prior to the process.

Time Line for Administrator and Teacher Contract Renewal/Non-Renewal

For Probationary Teachers and Administrators:

By March 15 of each year, the school board must give written notice of contract renewal or non-renewal to all probationary teachers and administrators.  ORS 342.513(1).

By April 15, the probationary teacher or administrator must accept or reject the school board's offer of contract renewal.  ORS 342.513(2).

For Contract Administrators:

By March 15 of the second year of an administrator's contract, the school board must do one of the following three things:

  1. Issue a new 3-year contract which will be effective July 1 of that same year, or
  2. Extend the existing contract for an additional year, or
  3. Give written notice of contract non-extension.  ORS 342.845(5).

For Contract Teachers:

By March 15 of the first year of a teacher's contract, the school board must provide written notice of:

  1. Contract extension which will be effective on July 1 of that same year and replace the prior contract, or
  2. Give written notice of contract non-extension and implement a program of assistance for improvement.

If a teacher is notified of non-extension during the first year of their contract, then by March 15 of the second year of the teacher's contract, the school board must provide written notice of:

  1. Contract extension, or
  2. Contract non-extension.  ORS 342.895.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Teacher Contracts

Is a district required to enter into an employment contract with each of its teachers?

Yes, contract teachers shall be employed by a school district pursuant to two-year employment contracts.  ORS 342.895.

What is a "teacher?"

The term "teacher" includes all licensed employees in the public schools or employed by an education service district who have direct responsibility for instruction, coordination of educational programs or supervision or evaluation of teachers and who are compensated for their services from public funds. "Teacher" does not include a school nurse as defined in ORS 342.455.  ORS 342.120(9).

Probationary Teachers

How long is the probationary period for a teacher?

The probationary period for a teacher is three (3) years.  ORS 342.815(3).

Can a teacher's probationary period last longer than 3 years?

No, after being regularly employed by a school district for a probationary period of three successive school years, and retained for the next succeeding school year, a teacher then becomes a contract teacher.  ORS 342.815(3).

Can a teacher's probationary period be shorter than 3 years?

Yes, the district school board may enter into agreements that provide for a shorter probationary period of not less than one year for teachers who have satisfied the three-year probationary period in another Oregon school district.  ORS 342.815(3).

How long are employment contracts for probationary teachers?

One year.  ORS 342.513(1).

Can a probationary teacher's contract be longer than 1 year?

No, notice of the renewal or nonrenewal of the contract must occur each year by March 15thORS 342.513(1).

When must a probationary teacher be notified whether their probationary contract will be renewed or non-renewed?

Each district school board shall give written notice of the renewal or nonrenewal of the contract for the following school year by March 15 of each year.  ORS 342.513

What is the deadline for a probationary teacher to accept an offer of contract renewal?

Probationary teachers must notify the board in writing on or before April 15 of acceptance or rejection of the position for the following school year.  ORS 342.513(2).

What happens if the school board fails to notify the probationary teacher of contract renewal/non-renewal by March 15?

If any district school board fails to give such notice by March 15, the contract shall be considered renewed for the following school year at a salary not less than that being received at the time of renewal.  ORS 342.513(1).

If the district school board fails to give such notice by March 15 to a probationary teacher in the teacher's third year of probationary status, the teacher shall become a "contract teacher" effective June 30 of that year.

Under what circumstances may a district discharge or remove a probationary teacher?

A district may discharge or remove a probationary teacher during the probationary period at any time during a probationary period for any cause considered in good faith sufficient by the board.  ORS 342.835(1).

A district must also comply with any applicable collective bargaining provisions, district policies and state and federal employment laws when discharging or removing any employee.

Districts are advised to consult with legal counsel before discharging, removing or terminating any employee.
If a probationary teacher is dismissed, does the district have to provide the probationary teacher with written reasons for the dismissal?

Yes, the district is required to give a written copy of the reasons for the dismissal to the probationary teacher.  ORS 342.835(1).

The district must also comply with any applicable collective bargaining provisions and district policies.

If a probationary teacher is dismissed, is the probationary teacher entitled to a hearing before the school board?

Yes, the probationary teacher can request a hearing before the board.  The teacher must be given an opportunity to be heard either in person or by a representative of the teacher's choice.  ORS 342.835(1).

Does a probationary teacher have the right to appeal a termination or non-renewal decision to the Fair Dismissal Appeals Board?

No, upon request, a non-renewed probationary teacher shall be provided a hearing before the district board.  ORS 342.835(2).

A non-renewal probationary teacher may appeal the school board's decision to the circuit court for the county in which the headquarters of the school district is located.  ORS 342.835(3).

Contract (Non-Probationary) Teachers

How long are contracts for non-probationary teachers?

Contracts for non-probationary teachers are 2 year employment contracts.  ORS 342.985(1).

Can a non-probationary teacher's contract be renewed for a period of time less than two years?

No, a contract renewal replaces the existing two-year contract.  ORS 342.895(4)(a).

Can a non-probationary teacher's contract be for a period of time more than two years?

No, contract teachers shall be employed by a school district pursuant to two-year employment contracts.  ORS 342.895(1).

When must a non-probationary teacher be notified whether their contract will be renewed, non-renewed, or extended?

The district school board must provide written notice to the teacher no later than March 15.  ORS 342.985(4)(a).

What is the deadline for a teacher to accept an offer of contract renewal?

A teacher must give notice of non-acceptance/resignation 60 days before the end of the contract period.  ORS 342.553(1).

What happens if the school board fails to notify the teacher of contract renewal/non-renewal or extension by March 15?

If the school board fails to notify a teacher of contract renewal, non-renewal, or contract extension by March 15, the teacher's contract shall be considered renewed or extended for the following year. ORS 342.513(1).

Is the District required to place the teacher on a program of assistance for improvement if the teacher is non-renewed or terminated?

Yes, if the district school board does not extend a contract teacher's contract by March 15 of the first year of the contract, the district superintendent, or the superintendent's designee, shall place the teacher on a program of assistance for improvement.  ORS 342.895(4)(b).

The district superintendent or the superintendent's designee may, in addition, place any other teacher on a program of assistance for improvement if in the judgment of the district superintendent or designee a program of assistance for improvement is needed.  ORS 342.895(4)(b).

What is a "program of assistance for improvement?"

A "program of assistance for improvement" is a written plan for a contract teacher that with reasonable specificity:

  • Helps teachers adapt and improve to meet changing demands of the Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century in ORS Chapter 329 if applicable.
  • Identifies specific deficiencies in the contract teacher's conduct or performance.
  • Sets forth corrective steps the contract teacher may pursue to overcome or correct the deficiencies.
  • Establishes the assessment techniques by which the district will measure and determine whether the teacher has sufficiently corrected the deficiencies to meet district standards.  ORS 342.815(7).
Can a contract teacher be terminated or non-renewed for any reason?

No, contract teachers can only be terminated or non-renewed in very limited circumstances.  ORS 342.865. Please see the next question for additional information.

What are grounds for dismissal or non-renewal of a contract for a non-probationary teacher?

A contract teacher can only be dismissed or have a contract non-renewed for:

  • Inefficiency;
  • Immorality;
  • Insubordination;
  • Neglect of duty, including duties specified by written rule;
  • Physical or mental incapacity;
  • Conviction of a felony or of a crime according to the provisions of ORS 342.143;
  • Inadequate performance;
  • Failure to comply with such reasonable requirements as the board may prescribe to show normal improvement and evidence of professional training and growth; or
  • Any cause which constitutes grounds for the revocation of such contract teacher's teaching license.

ORS 342.865.

A district must comply with any applicable collective bargaining provisions, district policies and state and federal employment laws when dismissing or reducing the pay of an administrator during a contract.

Districts are advised to consult with legal counsel before dismissing or reducing the pay of an administrator before the expiration of the administrator's contract.
Who has the authority to terminate a contract teacher?

Authority to dismiss or not extend a contract teacher is vested in the district school board subject to the provisions of the fair dismissal and contract extension procedures and only after recommendation of the dismissal or non-extension of contract is given to the district school board by the superintendent.  ORS 342.895(2).

Is the contract teacher entitled to notice of the superintendent's termination recommendation prior to the superintendent's recommendation to the school board?

Yes, at least 20 days prior to recommending to a board the dismissal of the contract teacher, the district superintendent shall give written notice to the contract teacher by certified mail or delivered in person of the intention to make a recommendation to dismiss the teacher.  ORS 342.895(3)(a).

What must the notice to the teacher contain?

The notice shall set forth the statutory grounds upon which the superintendent believes such dismissal is justified, and shall contain a plain and concise statement of the facts relied on to support the statutory grounds for dismissal.  ORS 342.895(3)(a).

Who must be copied on the notice?

Notice shall also be sent to the district school board and to the Fair Dismissal Appeals Board.  ORS 342.895(3)(a).

What are the teacher's rights if his/her contract is non-extended?

If the district school board does not extend a non-probationary teacher's contract, the teacher or the teacher's representative may appeal that decision to the Fair Dismissal Appeals Board established under ORS 342.930 after the contract period is over.  ORS 342.905(1).

What are the teacher's rights if his/her contract is terminated?

If the district school board dismisses a contract teacher, the teacher or the teacher's representative may appeal that decision to the Fair Dismissal Appeals Board established under ORS 342.930.  ORS 342.905(1).

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Administrator Contracts

Is a district required to enter into an employment contract with each of its administrators?

Yes, the district is required by law to have an employment contract with each administrator regardless of whether the administrator is probationary or non-probationary.  ORS 342.549(2)(a).

What is an “administrator?”

An “administrator” is a person who is employed as an administrator or is performing administrative duties, regardless of whether the person is required to have a license, and includes but is not limited to superintendents, assistant superintendents and business managers.  ORS 342.549(1)(a).  An “administrator” does not include a person who is subject to ORS 342.805 to 342.937.  ORS 342.549(1)(b).

Probationary Administrators

How long is the probationary period for an administrator?

Three years unless the administrator and the district mutually agree to a shorter period of time.  ORS 342.845(5)(a).

Can an administrator’s probationary period last longer than three years?

No, an administrator’s probationary period may not exceed three years. ORS 342.845(5)(a).

How long are employment contracts for probationary administrators?

One year.  ORS 342.513(1).

Can a probationary administrator’s contract be longer than one year?

No, notice of renewal or nonrenewal of a contract must occur each year.  ORS 342.513(1).

When must a probationary administrator be notified whether their probationary contract will be renewed or non-renewed?

The probationary administrator must be notified by March 15 of each year whether their contract will be renewed or non-renewed for the following year.  ORS 342.513(1).

What is the deadline for a probationary administrator to accept an offer of contract renewal?

The probationary administrator must accept an offer of contract renewal by April 15.  ORS 342.513(2).

What happens if the school board fails to notify the probationary administrator of contract renewal/non-renewal by March 15?

The probationary administrator’s contract is automatically renewed for an additional year at a salary not less than that being received at the time of renewal.  ORS 342.513(1).

If a school board decides to non-renew a probationary administrator’s contract, is the school board required to provide the probationary administrator with a statement of the reason for non-renewal?

The law does not require the school board to provide a reason for the non-renewal unless the probationary administrator requests the reason for the non-renewal.  ORS 342.513(1).

Districts are advised to consult with legal counsel any time they are considering non-renewing a probationary administrator’s contract.

Contract (Non-probationary) Administrators

How long are contracts for non-probationary administrators?

After the administrator has completed the probationary period, each administrator contract is for a three-year period of time.  ORS 342.845(5)(a).

Can a non-probationary administrator’s contract be renewed for a period of time less than three years?

No, after the probationary period, if a district decides to renew an administrator’s contract, it must be for a three-year period of time.  ORS 342.845(5)(a).

Can a district extend an administrator’s three year contract by an additional year instead of renewing the contract for another three years?

Yes, by March 15 of the second year of the administrator’s contract, the district can notify the administrator that his/her three year contract is being extended for an additional school year. ORS 342.845(5)(c).

Under what circumstances can a district decide to extend an administrator’s contract by one year instead of renewing it for three years?

The district can extend a contract, renew a contract, or choose to give notice of nonrenewal of a contract.  ORS 342.845(5)(c). It is up to the district’s discretion on whether to extend or renew the contract.

Is there a deadline by which the district must notify an administrator of contract extension, renewal or non-renewal?

Yes, the district must notify the administrator of contract extension, renewal or non-renewal by March 15 of the second year of the administrator’s contract.  ORS 342.845(5)(c).

Under what circumstances can a district decide to non-renew/non-extend an administrator’s contract?

The district may non-renew or non-extend an administrator’s contract for any reason the school board in good faith considers sufficient.  ORS 342.845(5)(c).

A district must also comply with any applicable terms of the administrator contract, district policies and state and federal employment laws when non-renewing or non-extending an administrator.

Districts are advised to consult with legal counsel before non-renewing/non-extending an administrator’s contract.
Is the District required to place the administrator on a program of assistance for improvement before it can terminate or non-renew a non-probationary administrator?

No, the district is not required to place an administrator on a program of assistance for improvement.  ORS 342.845(5). Although not required by statute, programs of assistance for improvement may have been negotiated into an administrator contract. The District should review the administrator contract if considering termination or non-renewal.

What are the administrator’s rights if his/her contract is non-renewed and/or non-extended?

The administrator has the right to fill any vacant teaching position in the district for which the contract administrator is licensed and competent provided the administrator has three years of teaching experience in Oregon that has been successful, in the judgment of the district superintendent.  ORS 342.845(6).

The administrator does not have the right to appeal a non-renewal and/or non-extension to the Fair Dismissal Appeals Board.  ORS 342.845(5)(a).

Can a district dismiss or reduce the pay of an administrator during the term of the contract?

Yes, but only under very specific circumstances which are set forth in ORS 342.865, or pursuant to ORS 342.934(5).  ORS 342.845(5)(a).

Those circumstances include but are not limited to the following:

  • Inefficiency;
  • Immorality;
  • Insubordination;
  • Neglect of duty;
  • Physical or mental incapacity;
  • Conviction of a felony or of a crime according to the provisions of ORS 342.143;
  • Inadequate performance;
  • Failure to comply with such reasonable requirements as the board may prescribe to show normal improvement and evidence of professional training and growth; or
  • Any cause which constitutes grounds for the revocation of such administrator’s license.  ORS 342.865.

A district may also dismiss or reduce the pay of an administrator as part of a reduction in force.  ORS 342.934.

A district must comply with any applicable terms of the administrator’s contract, district policies and state and federal employment laws when dismissing or reducing the pay of an administrator during a contract.

Districts are advised to consult with legal counsel before dismissing or reducing the pay  of an  administrator before the expiration of the administrator’s contract.
What are the administrator’s rights if he/she is dismissed or receives a reduction in pay during the term of the contract?

If an administrator is dismissed or has a reduction in pay during the term of the contract, the administrator may appeal to the Fair Dismissal Appeals Board. ORS 342.845(5)(a).

What is the difference between extension and renewal of a contract?

Administrator contracts are for three years. Before March 15 of the second year, the school district must choose whether to renew the contract, extend the contract by one year, or to give notice of non-extension. Renewal of the contract would create a new three-year contract to replace the existing contract. Extending the contract would add a year to the existing contract. Non-extension of the contract leaves the contract as is. ORS 342.845(5)(c).