Letter of Intent Date: March 15

State Statute Sets Date

Just a year ago, a few administrators across Nebraska began distributing letters of intent before the Christmas holiday.

That distribution was extraordinarily early, as state statute does not require Nebraska’s K-12 teachers to return signed letters before March 15.

Superintendents, in an effort to get a handle on next year’s staff sometimes request that this year’s staff state their intentions early, suggesting letters of intent be returned as early as Feb. 15 or March 1, or sometimes even earlier.

Letters of intent are important, and PK-12 educators should know 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 the letters are sent out before Jan. 1, sometimes asking for a response within days.

Guinan advises that members not rush to sign, but be deliberate 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.

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.”

Letters that ask for a signature and return on March 15 or on a specified date after March 15, are appropriate. In such cases, it is vital to sign and return it by the due date.  

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