Reminder: Letter of Intent Date is March 15

Know Your Rights Concerning Intent

Hard to believe, but distribution of letters of intent began before the end of 2018 in some Nebraska school districts.

That’s early, since state statute does not require Nebraska’s PK-12 teachers to return signed letters before March 15.

Letters of intent are no laughing matter, and PK-12 educators should be aware of their rights, said NSEA Director of Advocacy Trish Guinan.

State law allows school districts, on or after March 15 each year, to require certificated employees – teachers, counselors, speech pathologists, psychologists and others – to sign binding letters of intent and/or individual contracts. Such letters signify whether the teacher intends to return to employment in that district the next year.

In recent years, teachers have been asked to declare intentions early, said Guinan. Some administrators have sent letters as early as mid-January. In rare instances – including this year – the letters have been sent out before Jan. 1, sometimes asking for response within 10 days.

Guinan advises that members not rush to sign, but be deliberate in the process and use the time allotted by law. She said state statute is clear: “A school district cannot require teachers to make a commitment before March 15.”

Failure to sign and return the letter by stated deadlines that fall on or after March 15 is a threat to a teacher’s employment.

State Statute 79-829 addresses permanent certificated employees and contracts says, in part, “the certificated employee shall not be required to signify such acceptance prior to March 15 of each year.”

Guinan offers this advice: If administrators distribute such a letter/contract prior to March 15, and ask for its return prior to that date, a local association representative should fax a copy to Guinan or their assigned organizational specialist at the NSEA (1-402-475-2630). In the meantime, an appropriate response to the letter by teachers is “I don’t know yet” or “I’m not sure.”

If the letter is distributed on or after March 15, or asks for a return after that date, it’s important to sign and return it by the due date.  

Questions? Call your organizational specialist, or Guinan, at 1-800-742-0047.