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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20233
Experience:  Assisting employees and employers for over 14 years.
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I am a 1st year public school teacher in Minneapolis MN school

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I am a 1st year public school teacher in Minneapolis MN school district. My situation is a bit convoluted, so bear with me. On Thursday, I was called into the principal’s office and told that there was a high shortfall in the budget and I would not be rehired next year. My principle gave me the choice of going through with the “no rehire” and being ineligible to ever work in the Mpls school district (a very large inner city school district) again or resigning on the spot. “Paper work is due tomorrow.”

I have a professional development team that is supposed to help and support me through out my 1st year and they make recommendations as to whether I should stay or go. My team was split down the middle in their recommendations. The interesting thing is that all of the team members gave me the same score on my spring summary. On a scale of 1 to 4, I got a 2. Nobody gets a 4 and a 2 is not bad for a 1st year. It was rough beginning. I was hired the week before classes started and I had large class sizes. 40+ students who are traditionally challenged by public education and have a very low graduation rate, but we did make slow but steady progress.

Probationary teachers can really be let go for any reason, except that I signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Indian Education (I work with American Indian children). Part of the MOA is that MOA teachers can’t be fired due to budget cuts, excess teachers, etc, due to the high turn over rate of 1st year teachers who usually land that job.

Here’s what I think: I think facing budget cuts, the principal decided to let me go. She couldn’t lay me off due to budget cuts because of the MOA, so she bullied me into signing a resignation by threatening to ruin my career in Minneapolis. I’m contacting the Union on Monday, but does any of this sound shady to you?
Welcome and thank you for your question!

I am sorry to learn of the facts you've described. If you are a member of a union, do you have a copy of your union contract in front of you?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I don't have my contract in front of me, but I do have the MOA.


Thank you. Is it your claim that your principal is violating the MOA?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes. Like I said a 1st year teacher can be let go due to budget cuts, although I believe that would be a layoff, not a no rehire, meaning the teacher did nothing wrong and would be eligible for rehire within the district. I was told that I had to agree to a no rehire meaning I'm not qualifed or had violated some policy and would not be eligible for rehire, or sign a resignation because the MOA states that, "commitment and compliance with these requirements will allow teachers to be protected from district wide layoffs, bumping and placement of excess teachers."


If it is your position that the principal is violating the MOA, then your exclusive recourse is to go to your union and file a grievance against the principal's actions (as violating the MOA).

That is the only available recourse (follow the union contract grievance process).

Have I answered all of your questions?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you. I knew I would have to go through the union, I just thought you might be able to offer some additional insight or advice.

If you did not have a union but had a written contract that was being violated, the recourse would be to sue for breach of contract.

However, since you have a union, the recourse is limited to the procedure outlined in the union collective bargaining agreement (and you said that you do not have a copy of that). This is the grievance process. You are limited to filing a grievance to protect your rights.

If you did not belong to a union and if you did not have a written contract, you would have zero recourse against the employer.

Have I now done a better job of outlining the different considerations and what you are limited to?

~~ J.B.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes. Thank you. I do have a contract, I just can't remember the "safe" place where I put it. I'm actually not a full member of the union, I'm what you call a fair share member. I pay less and receive fewer services. I get grievance representation, but no legal assistance for lay-off hearings, or terminations and no attorney representation.


Also the MOA is a separate contract between Indian Education, the district and individuals who have signed.


Thank you. What language, if any, does the MOA include about the recourse for any disputes?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

"Should conflict occur between the two parties, steps shall be taken in order to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution. if the parties are unable to reach agreement themselves, neutral, outside facilitation/mediation will be engaged to resolve disagreements on programs and policies that impact the the implementation of the MOA and have direct impact on American Indian students in MPS."


Thank you. Thus, from that language, you are not able to sue for breach of contract but, rather, you and the school agree to hire an outside mediator or facilitator to try to work out the differences.

If you want, after meeting with the union, you may want to inform the principal in writing that you want the mater to go to mediation.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back. I am happy to address follow-up questions. Thank you for your business!

~~ J.B.
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