Here are some of the most common legal personnel issues faced by Arizona schools. The legal issues involving school personnel mirror other employment sectors. School employees are covered by the same federal laws regarding workplace discrimination as private sector employees. Schools must follow the same workplace safety standards other employers must follow and schools must abide by the federal standards for wages and overtime pay, which affect most private and public employment, among others.
However, the employment environment in schools does contain some distinct differences when compared to other sectors. As such, school personnel issues present a host of unique legal considerations. Having a knowledgeable Arizona attorney work with you on these legal issues, both in terms of prevention and acting promptly when one emerges, can be extremely beneficial.
Employment Relationship Issues
Legally, the employment of teachers in Arizona public schools is governed by federal law as discussed above, state laws, contracts, district policies, and district agreements with the local association. Although individual contracts, district policies, and association agreements may vary, Arizona state law provides consistent guidance on some of the legal questions involving teacher employment.
For example, a district which attempts to reduce teachers’ salaries or eliminate positions as a cost savings measure may not adopt Reduction in Force Policy based on teacher seniority or continuing status.Teachers subject to a reduction in force who previously had 3-year recall rights, now under Arizona law have no recall rights. However, district policy and employment contracts may offer recall rights where the law does not.
Another problem area that often arises in the context of teacher employment involves the process of evaluation and status as a probationary or continuing teacher. Teachers employed by a school district for more than three years, who have not been rated as ineffective, are granted “continuing status” whereas all other teachers fall under “probationary” status.
Continuing status teachers cannot be subject to an annual contract nonrenewal whereas a probationary teacher may not have his or her contract renewed at the end of the school year. Based on the rights afforded continuing status teachers, the process of evaluation weighs heavily in teacher status. How the evaluation process is conducted and whether it is viewed as an objective measure of job performance can provide a potential area of legal risk.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Common Legal Personnel Issues Faced by Arizona Schools, or other Education Law matters, please feel free to contact Candyce B. Pardee at 800.863.6718, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona with a branch office in Yuma, Arizona, and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.