NSEA Member Rights

Click here for information on the NEA/NSEA Liability Policy.

This program coordinates all NSEA assistance provided to professional educators in securing and protecting their rights. As an NSEA member you are entitled to NSEA staff or attorney assistance or litigation for any incident that results in a job sanction, a grievance, a criminal proceeding related to corporal punishment, and/or a complaint to the Commissioner of Education.

Some examples in which the NSEA can provide assistance include grievance processing; employment dismissal cases (reduction-in-force, suspension, cancellation of contract, termination of contract, or non-renewal of contract); responses to reprimands, complaints, and evaluations; and the processing of a claim pertaining to the Educators Employment Liability policy.

There are numerous warning signs to watch for, many of which are described in the corresponding link listed below. Don't hesitate to discuss any of these signs with an NSEA Organizational Specialist; all questions or concerns will remain confidential. It is best to contact NSEA immediately when a problem does arise. Requests for assistance should be made to the area Organizational Specialist or the NSEA Director of Advocacy at 1-800-742-0047.

NSEA member rights services are provided at no additional cost to the member. Such services are provided by NSEA staff members and/or NSEA-retained attorneys, if deemed necessary by the Director of Advocacy. Legal assistance for NSEA members is provided by Norby & Wade LLP - information about their firm can be found here: www.norbywade.com.

Before calling NSEA, make sure to have all pertinent documents in hand. For instance, when calling in regard to a dismissal case, please have the notification letter that was sent by the school district. There are strict timelines that must be adhered to, so it's important to make contact with an NSEA representative as quickly as possible.

Specific Cases, Hazards, Infractions and Topics

  • Warning Signs
  • Professional Papers
  • Complaint to the Commissioner of Education
  • Employment Dismissal
  • Grievances

Warning Signs

Here are some important early warning signs that your performance is being questioned:

  • Poor or less-than-good evaluations
  • Receipt of a written reprimand
  • A deteriorating relationship with supervisor, colleague, student, or parent.
  • Rumors of discontent regarding classroom performance or personal life.
  • The occurrence of an event that causes nervousness or uncertainty.

These and other warning signs call for preventive action. Don't hesitate to discuss them with an NSEA Organizational Specialist.

Here are five signs of a crisis. If one of them ever applies to you, seek help from NSEA at once -- do not talk to anyone else first!

  1. Notification that you have been accused of serious misconduct.
  2. Contact from criminal authorities or social services about allegations of misconduct.
  3. Notification that a complaint has been filed against you with the Nebraska Commissioner of Education.
  4. Notification that your employer is considering firing you.
  5. Notification that a lawsuit has been filed against you.

In all these crisis circumstances, no matter how large or small, you have rights as a certificated employee. Contact NSEA at once -- prior to talking to anyone else!

Professional Papers

The following is a list of important documents that should be kept in a file at home:

  • Teaching certificate
  • College transcripts
  • Teaching contract/supplemental contracts
  • Records relating to retirement benefits
  • Leave records (i.e. illness, personal, professional, etc.)
  • School-related insurance policies
  • Current and past teaching schedules/assignments
  • Salary schedule and notification of salary placement
  • Correspondence from or to school administration
  • Letters of praise or reprimand
  • Summaries of conferences with supervisors
  • All professional evaluations
  • Awards, commendations or honors
  • Records of seminars/workshops attended
  • Brief accounts of parent conferences/contacts/communications

Other important documents to review: the school district's personnel policies; and any general school policies relating to discipline, corporal punishment, student suspension, access to school records, etc.

Complaint to the Commissioner of Education

It's possible that you will someday receive a certified letter in the mail notifying you that someone has filed a complaint against you with the state Commissioner of Education alleging that you have violated the profession's 'Code of Ethics.' Should this happen, your teaching certificate could be in jeopardy. As a NSEA member, you have the right to request the services of an attorney to defend you in the matter.

Requests for legal defense in a certification matter should be made to the NSEA Director of Advocacy immediately upon receipt of the notice from the Commissioner. If the request for legal defense is approved, NSEA/NEA will jointly fund all costs of defense related to the investigation by the commissioner's office -- which includes a hearing before the Professional Practices Commission and before the State Board of Education, should the matter go that far.

Employment Dismissal

Please contact an NSEA Organizational Specialist as soon as you are informed of a possible change in the status of your employment. Such changes may be referred to as: Suspension, Nonrenewal, Contract Amendment, Termination, Cancellation, or Reduction In Force (RIF).

Here are some important steps to follow:

  • Fax the notice to NSEA at (402) 475-2630 immediately and notify the Organizational Specialist. An NSEA staff person or an attorney will either request the hearing for the member or assist the member in doing so. There are only 7 calendar days (5 days for Comm. Colleges) from receipt of the notice to request a hearing.
  • In most circumstances, NSEA representatives will encourage members to request a hearing. This gives the member time to consider the situation and the options for resolution. At a later time, the member can decide to give up their right to a hearing.
  • It is possible that members receiving notices will be offered settlements or buy-outs in lieu of having a hearing. NSEA staff has vast experience in negotiating these plans. Occasionally, such offers are made to members who have not received a notice. Members should consult NSEA prior to signing an agreement.
  • Materials needed from the member receiving a notice may include the documents listed under the "Professional Papers" link, as well as a list of potential witnesses for the member or the program being considered for elimination.

Contact NSEA at 1-800-742-0047 if you have any questions.

Grievances

Every year, a large number of NSEA members find themselves in a disagreement with their employers. These disagreements may revolve around a variety of issues, such as proper placement on the salary schedule; assignment of extra duties; receipt of a reprimand; a poor evaluation; perceived harassment; or a myriad of other issues.

Your local association, with advice and assistance from NSEA staff is committed to making sure that members' rights under law, contract and policy are protected. Efforts to protect these rights can take the form of local or individual concerns, grievances, formal complaints to state/federal agencies, and even litigation.

If you have a concern, complaint or grievance, it's best in most cases to contact an appropriate representative of your local association for assistance and referral to NSEA, if necessary. If for any reason you need or prefer to contact the NSEA directly, please do so. You should contact either your Organizational Specialist or the Director of Advocacy.