Ask Michael

Vol. 11 No. 2

Q&A

Q: We're having a debate within our administrative team about whether we should continue to offer contracts to teachers, or not. What is ISM's recommendation?

A: As a general matter, ISM supports offering annual contracts for faculty, but not for any other employees except the head of school (i.e., not for staff members or administrators). Our reasoning behind this is:

  • Faculty contracts benefit both the school and the teacher by creating a sense of security that the teacher will be in the classroom for the entire year--thus ensuring continuity of instruction for the students.
  • While staff and administrators are, of course, vital to the successful operation of the school, the same continuity-of-instruction issue isn't present with staff and administrators--thus, we don't believe that contracts are necessary for these positions.

That being said, we don't support so-called "at-will employment agreements" (i.e., hybrid documents that look like contracts but which actually provide very little protection or security to teachers). We believe such agreements are misleading—leading teachers to believe that they are protected in the classroom for the full academic year, when this is not actually the case. Rather than using these questionable documents, we recommend that schools either use actual contracts (i.e., that protect the teacher for the year), or don't use agreements/contracts at all so that all parties clearly understand that the employment relationship is at-will.

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