Is a school district allowed to reassign me outside of my area of certification?
Under certain circumstances, yes. However, teachers have important rights to refuse an assignment outside their area of certification.
A teacher teaching outside her certification area is supposed to be the exception, not the rule. It is supposed to occur only if the district lacks certified teachers in a particular area and secures an emergency permit. The regulations set forth a number of prerequisites a school district must satisfy in order to secure an emergency permit. First, the superintendent must document the efforts undertaken by the district to employ a certified individual. Next, the superintendent must submit the necessary documents to an education service center when filling a vacant position with an uncertified individual. Finally, the district must ensure that the individual meets all general eligibility requirements established for emergency permits, including holding a bachelor’s degree, English proficiency and “good moral character.”
Protections for Teachers
After documenting efforts to obtain a certified teacher and filing the emergency permit application, a superintendent must assure that a number of precautions have been taken relating to the assignment of the uncertified individual. These are designed to provide some assistance to the teacher. First, the district must verify the existence of a support system for the teacher. Second, for a certified teacher with less than one creditable year within the district, the superintendent must assign a mentor to the individual. The superintendent must also verify provisions for release time “as needed to assist the individual serving on an emergency permit.” Finally, the superintendent must verify that the district advised the teacher of State Board of Educator Certification rules relating to permits.
These provisions apply only to certified teachers possessing a college degree who maintained employment the previous year or semester in a position for which they possessed full certification. These teachers may not be assigned to a position that requires activating an emergency permit unless the teacher provides “written consent to the activation of the permit.”
There are some significant exceptions to the rule requiring the teacher’s consent. A superintendent does not have to secure the teacher’s consent if, due to “enrollment fluctuations or changes in course offerings, the teacher’s previous assignment no longer exists and no alternative assignment for which the teacher is fully certified is available on that campus.” When a district activates an emergency permit under these circumstances, the district must provide the teacher the opportunity to return to the assignment previously held or to an assignment that falls within the certification area as soon as such a position becomes available. Moreover, if the teacher agrees to the reassignment, the transfer of duties must occur no later than the beginning of the next year.
If a teacher refuses to consent to the activation of an emergency permit under the previously discussed circumstances, the school district may not terminate, nonrenew or otherwise retaliate against the teacher. However, the refusal to consent does not insulate an educator from any district decisions regarding the implementation of a necessary reduction in force or “other personnel actions in accordance with local district policy.”
If a permit is activated within 30 days of the opening of the school year or later during the contract year, the teacher is exempt from having to complete additional course work or examination requirements for certification for the remainder of the contract year. A teacher continuing on an emergency permit for a second year must meet the full requirements.
A teacher employed under an emergency permit may not retain the assignment for more than three years. In order to continue beyond the initial permit year, the teacher must comply with the renewal procedures detailed in the Code. If a teacher desires to continue employment in the assignment for which the permit was granted beyond the validity term of the permit, the individual must attain full certification in the subject area of the assignment.