Principal reassigned to teaching slot. Is that kosher?

Superintendents enjoy wide latitude to move pieces around on the chessboard.  Educators generally sign contracts that acknowledge that they are subject to “assignment and reassignment.” But there are well established limits to what the superintendent can do.  The superintendent cannot assign a professional educator to a position outside of the “same professional capacity.”  A teacher can be reassigned to another teaching position. An administrator can be reassigned to a different administrative position. But can the superintendent move a principal back to the classroom as a teacher?

No.  That’s a change in “professional capacity” and cannot be done by simple order from the superintendent.  It could be accomplished if the district goes through proper nonrenewal procedures.  With notice and an opportunity for the employee to request a hearing, the district could nonrenew the contract to be a principal, and issue a new contract for a teacher.

So let’s throw in a wrinkle: what if the principal’s contract does not say that the person is employed as a “principal,” or even as an “administrator.”  Instead, it says the person is employed as a “professional employee.”  Would that make it OK? After all, whether serving as a principal or a teacher, the person would still be a “professional employee.”  Same professional capacity?

No, that doesn’t work either.  A previous commissioner ruled on this issue in 2012, concluding that “professional employee” is not a legitimate professional capacity (Tuck v. Alief ISD, Docket No. 008-R10-1007).  Now, Commissioner Morath has come to the same conclusion, and ordered Brownsville ISD to employ Leticia Rodriguez-Bohn as a principal for the 2020-21 school year.

It’s Rodriguez-Bohn v. Brownsville ISD, Docket No. 009-R10-10-2020, decided by Commissioner Morath on April 22, 2021.


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