I heard that teachers don’t ever get dinged for abandoning a contract anymore. True?

Teachers can get “dinged” for abandoning a contract. Just ask Maritza Villamil-Rivera.  She was a teacher in Houston ISD until she submitted a resignation on January 15, 2015—smack in the middle of the school year.  Her last day with HISD was January 31, 2015.  Two days later she accepted a job with Harmony Charter Schools.

HISD complained to SBEC that the teacher had abandoned her contract without consent of the district, and should be disciplined.  A hearing was held at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) on November 30, 2015.  The Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) critical ruling:

[The teacher] argues that she had good cause for resigning.  The record indicates that [the teacher] was suffering from health problems as well as anxiety and depression when she abruptly resigned from HISD. However, she made no attempt to secure HISD’s consent to her resignation. Instead, she chose to just walk away from a bad situation.

HISD offered testimony about what a bind it was in when the teacher quit in the middle of the year, and asked that the teacher’s certificate be suspended for a full year.  The ALJ thought that was too harsh.  He recommended an “inscribed reprimand” be placed on the teacher’s certificate.

That recommendation came to the SBEC board on February 12, 2016. The SBEC board approved all of the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, except for the one about the penalty.  SBEC imposed the full year suspension, as requested by HISD:

In similar cases regarding contact abandonment without good cause and without mitigating factors, the SBEC previously has ordered a sanction of a one-year suspension. As there are no findings of mitigation in this case, the sanction of a one-year suspension is supported by the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law adopted herein.

Thus the teacher lost her certificate for one year. And that means that she “is not allowed to work as a teacher, substitute teacher, librarian, educational aide, administrator, or counselor for a Texas public school including an open enrollment charter school, or shared services arrangement.” Emphasis added.

The case is SOAH Docket No. 701-16-0141.EC.