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4 questions about teachers’ contracts in Wisconsin

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2024 | Employment Law |

When teachers enter an employment contract, it is important for them to thoroughly understand the rights and responsibilities that contract outlines. What should teachers know about teaching contracts in the state of Wisconsin?

Are teachers considered at-will employees?

Wisconsin is an at-will state, which means that most positions allow employers to terminate an employee or allow employees to leave their position at any time and for any reason. However, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards notes that contracts should not identify administrators and teachers as at-will employees. Under most teaching contracts, school district administration must have a reason for terminating a teacher’s employment during the school year, which is generally appealable to the school board in a public or private hearing.

The reasons given by the school board may implicate your good name or professional standing, you may want to your story to the public including parents directly in a public hearing.

Can you receive pay for teachers’ conventions and other activities?

Yearly educational conferences can be a vital part of teachers’ professional development. School boards can provide pay for the time that teachers spend at these conventions, provided they file record of their attendance with the school district.

How long do teachers’ contracts last?

The usual term for a teacher’s contract is one year, and the contract should outline the structure of that year. This includes the number of days that the teacher will work during the school year and what the expectations are for the summer.

What if the school board does not renew your contract?

Wisconsin law requires school boards to undergo a specific process when cutting a teaching position, choosing not to renew a teacher’s contract or reducing a full-time teacher’s hours. School boards must either seek a voluntary agreement with the teacher in question or issue a preliminary notice of nonrenewal after a school board vote. Teachers must receive notice of renewal or nonrenewal on or before May 15.

Before issuing a final notice of nonrenewal, the school board should also provide teachers that received a preliminary notice of nonrenewal with certain opportunities. This may involve a private conference with the administration to challenge the nonrenewal and negotiating a resignation agreement, or a public or private hearing in front of the school board.

Teachers’ contracts contain many complex details, and a thorough review can mean the difference between a fair workplace and a challenging school year. Teachers may want to seek experienced guidance as they review their contract to ensure that they understand the terms of their employment.