July 30, 2016
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The Florida Statutes

The 2001 Florida Statutes

Title XVI
Education
Chapter 231
Personnel Of School System
View Entire Chapter
Section 231.36, Florida Statutes 2001

231.36  Contracts with instructional staff, supervisors, and principals.--

(1)(a)  Each person employed as a member of the instructional staff in any district school system shall be properly certificated pursuant to s. 231.17 or s. 231.1726 or employed pursuant to s. 231.1725 and shall be entitled to and shall receive a written contract as specified in chapter 230. All such contracts, except continuing contracts as specified in subsection (4), shall contain provisions for dismissal during the term of the contract only for just cause. Just cause includes, but is not limited to, the following instances, as defined by rule of the State Board of Education: misconduct in office, incompetency, gross insubordination, willful neglect of duty, or conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude.

(b)  A supervisor or principal shall be properly certified and shall receive a written contract as specified in chapter 230. Such contract may be for an initial period not to exceed 3 years, subject to annual review and renewal. The first 97 days of an initial contract is a probationary period. During the probationary period, the employee may be dismissed without cause or may resign from the contractual position without breach of contract. After the first 3 years, the contract may be renewed for a period not to exceed 3 years and shall contain provisions for dismissal during the term of the contract only for just cause, in addition to such other provisions as are prescribed by the district school board.

(2)  Any person so employed on the basis of a written offer of a specific position by a duly authorized agent of the district school board for a stated term of service at a specified salary, and who accepted such offer by telegram or letter or by signing the regular contract form, who violates the terms of such contract or agreement by leaving his or her position without first being released from his or her contract or agreement by the district school board of the district in which the person is employed shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Education Practices Commission. The district school board shall take official action on such violation and shall furnish a copy of its official minutes to the Commissioner of Education.

(3)(a)  Each district school board shall provide a professional service contract as prescribed herein. Each member of the instructional staff who completes the following requirements prior to July 1, 1984, shall be entitled to and shall be issued a continuing contract in the form prescribed by rules of the state board pursuant to s. 231.36, Florida Statutes 1981. Each member of the instructional staff who completes the following requirements on or after July 1, 1984, shall be entitled to and shall be issued a professional service contract in the form prescribed by rules of the state board as provided herein:

1.  The member must hold a professional certificate as prescribed by s. 231.17 and rules of the State Board of Education.

2.  The member must have completed 3 years of probationary service in the district during a period not in excess of 5 successive years, except for leave duly authorized and granted.

3.  The member must have been recommended by the superintendent of schools for such contract and reappointed by the district school board based on successful performance of duties and demonstration of professional competence.

4.  For any person newly employed as a member of the instructional staff after June 30, 1997, the initial annual contract shall include a 97-day probationary period during which time the employee's contract may be terminated without cause or the employee may resign without breach of contract.

(b)  The professional service contract shall be effective at the beginning of the school fiscal year following the completion of all requirements therefor.

(c)  The period of service provided herein may be extended to 4 years when prescribed by the district school board and agreed to in writing by the employee at the time of reappointment.

(d)  A district school board may issue a continuing contract prior to July 1, 1984, and may issue a professional service contract subsequent to July 1, 1984, to any employee who has previously held a professional service contract or continuing contract in the same or another district within this state. Any employee who holds a continuing contract may, but is not required to, exchange such continuing contract for a professional service contract in the same district.

(e)  A professional service contract shall be renewed each year unless the superintendent of schools, after receiving the recommendations required by s. 231.29, charges the employee with unsatisfactory performance and notifies the employee of performance deficiencies as required by s. 231.29. An employee who holds a professional service contract on July 1, 1997, is subject to the procedures set forth in paragraph (f) during the term of the existing professional service contract. The employee is subject to the procedures set forth in s. 231.29(3)(d) upon the next renewal of the professional service contract; however, if the employee is notified of performance deficiencies before the next contract renewal date, the procedures of s. 231.29(3)(d) do not apply until the procedures set forth in paragraph (f) have been exhausted and the professional service contract is subsequently renewed.

(f)  The superintendent of schools shall notify an employee who holds a professional service contract on July 1, 1997, in writing, no later than 6 weeks prior to the end of the postschool conference period, of performance deficiencies which may result in termination of employment, if not corrected during the subsequent year of employment (which shall be granted for an additional year in accordance with the provisions in subsection (1)). Except as otherwise hereinafter provided, this action shall not be subject to the provisions of chapter 120, but the following procedures shall apply:

1.  On receiving notice of unsatisfactory performance, the employee, on request, shall be accorded an opportunity to meet with the superintendent of schools, or his or her designee, for an informal review of the determination of unsatisfactory performance.

2.  An employee notified of unsatisfactory performance may request an opportunity to be considered for a transfer to another appropriate position, with a different supervising administrator, for the subsequent year of employment.

3.  During the subsequent year, the employee shall be provided assistance and inservice training opportunities to help correct the noted performance deficiencies. The employee shall also be evaluated periodically so that he or she will be kept apprised of progress achieved.

4.  Not later than 6 weeks prior to the close of the postschool conference period of the subsequent year, the superintendent of schools, after receiving and reviewing the recommendation required by s. 231.29, shall notify the employee, in writing, whether the performance deficiencies have been corrected. If so, a new professional service contract shall be issued to the employee. If the performance deficiencies have not been corrected, the superintendent of schools may notify the district school board and the employee, in writing, that the employee shall not be issued a new professional service contract; however, if the recommendation of the superintendent of schools is not to issue a new professional service contract, and if the employee wishes to contest such recommendation, the employee will have 15 days from receipt of the superintendent of schools' recommendation to demand, in writing, a hearing. In such hearing, the employee may raise as an issue, among other things, the sufficiency of the superintendent of schools' charges of unsatisfactory performance. Such hearing shall be conducted at the district school board's election in accordance with one of the following procedures:

a.  A direct hearing conducted by the district school board within 60 days of receipt of the written appeal. The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of ss. 120.569 and 120.57. A majority vote of the membership of the district school board shall be required to sustain the superintendent of schools' recommendation. The determination of the district school board shall be final as to the sufficiency or insufficiency of the grounds for termination of employment; or

b.  A hearing conducted by an administrative law judge assigned by the Division of Administrative Hearings of the Department of Management Services. The hearing shall be conducted within 60 days of receipt of the written appeal in accordance with chapter 120. The recommendation of the administrative law judge shall be made to the district school board. A majority vote of the membership of the district school board shall be required to sustain or change the administrative law judge's recommendation. The determination of the district school board shall be final as to the sufficiency or insufficiency of the grounds for termination of employment.

(g)  Beginning July 1, 2001, for each employee who enters into a written contract, pursuant to this section, in a school district in which the employee was not employed as of June 30, 2001, for purposes of pay a school board must recognize and accept each year of full-time teaching service for which the employee received a satisfactory performance evaluation. This provision is not intended to interfere with the operation of a collective bargaining agreement except to the extent it requires the agreement to treat years of teaching experience out of the district the same as years of teaching experience within the district. Instructional personnel employed pursuant to s. 121.091(9)(b)3. are exempt from the provisions of this paragraph.

(4)(a)  An employee who has continuing contract status prior to July 1, 1984, shall be entitled to retain such contract and all rights arising therefrom in accordance with existing laws, rules of the State Board of Education, or any laws repealed by this act, unless the employee voluntarily relinquishes his or her continuing contract.

(b)  Any member of the district administrative or supervisory staff and any member of the instructional staff, including any principal, who is under continuing contract may be dismissed or may be returned to annual contract status for another 3 years in the discretion of the district school board, at the end of the school year, when a recommendation to that effect is submitted in writing to the district school board on or before April 1 of any school year, giving good and sufficient reasons therefor, by the superintendent of schools, by the principal if his or her contract is not under consideration, or by a majority of the district school board. The employee whose contract is under consideration shall be duly notified in writing by the party or parties preferring the charges at least 5 days prior to the filing of the written recommendation with the district school board, and such notice shall include a copy of the charges and the recommendation to the district school board. The district school board shall proceed to take appropriate action. Any decision adverse to the employee shall be made by a majority vote of the full membership of the district school board. Any such decision adverse to the employee may be appealed by the employee pursuant to s. 120.68.

(c)  Any member of the district administrative or supervisory staff and any member of the instructional staff, including any principal, who is under continuing contract may be suspended or dismissed at any time during the school year; however, the charges against him or her must be based on immorality, misconduct in office, incompetency, gross insubordination, willful neglect of duty, drunkenness, or conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, as these terms are defined by rule of the State Board of Education. Whenever such charges are made against any such employee of the district school board, the district school board may suspend such person without pay; but, if the charges are not sustained, he or she shall be immediately reinstated, and his or her back salary shall be paid. In cases of suspension by the district school board or by the superintendent of schools, the district school board shall determine upon the evidence submitted whether the charges have been sustained and, if the charges are sustained, shall determine either to dismiss the employee or fix the terms under which he or she may be reinstated. If such charges are sustained by a majority vote of the full membership of the district school board and such employee is discharged, his or her contract of employment shall be thereby canceled. Any such decision adverse to the employee may be appealed by the employee pursuant to s. 120.68, provided such appeal is filed within 30 days after the decision of the district school board.

(5)  Should a district school board have to choose from among its personnel who are on continuing contracts or professional service contracts as to which should be retained, such decisions shall be made pursuant to the terms of a collectively bargained agreement, when one exists. If no such agreement exists, the district school board shall prescribe rules to handle reductions in workforce.

(6)(a)  Any member of the instructional staff, excluding an employee specified in subsection (4), may be suspended or dismissed at any time during the term of the contract for just cause as provided in paragraph (1)(a). The district school board must notify the employee in writing whenever charges are made against the employee and may suspend such person without pay; but, if the charges are not sustained, the employee shall be immediately reinstated, and his or her back salary shall be paid. If the employee wishes to contest the charges, the employee must, within 15 days after receipt of the written notice, submit a written request for a hearing. Such hearing shall be conducted at the district school board's election in accordance with one of the following procedures:

1.  A direct hearing conducted by the district school board within 60 days after receipt of the written appeal. The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of ss. 120.569 and 120.57. A majority vote of the membership of the district school board shall be required to sustain the superintendent of schools' recommendation. The determination of the district school board shall be final as to the sufficiency or insufficiency of the grounds for termination of employment; or

2.  A hearing conducted by an administrative law judge assigned by the Division of Administrative Hearings of the Department of Management Services. The hearing shall be conducted within 60 days after receipt of the written appeal in accordance with chapter 120. The recommendation of the administrative law judge shall be made to the district school board. A majority vote of the membership of the district school board shall be required to sustain or change the administrative law judge's recommendation. The determination of the district school board shall be final as to the sufficiency or insufficiency of the grounds for termination of employment.

Any such decision adverse to the employee may be appealed by the employee pursuant to s. 120.68, provided such appeal is filed within 30 days after the decision of the district school board.

(b)  Any member of the district administrative or supervisory staff, including any principal but excluding an employee specified in subsection (4), may be suspended or dismissed at any time during the term of the contract; however, the charges against him or her must be based on immorality, misconduct in office, incompetency, gross insubordination, willful neglect of duty, drunkenness, or conviction of any crime involving moral turpitude, as these terms are defined by rule of the State Board of Education. Whenever such charges are made against any such employee of the district school board, the district school board may suspend the employee without pay; but, if the charges are not sustained, he or she shall be immediately reinstated, and his or her back salary shall be paid. In cases of suspension by the district school board or by the superintendent of schools, the district school board shall determine upon the evidence submitted whether the charges have been sustained and, if the charges are sustained, shall determine either to dismiss the employee or fix the terms under which he or she may be reinstated. If such charges are sustained by a majority vote of the full membership of the district school board and such employee is discharged, his or her contract of employment shall be thereby canceled. Any such decision adverse to the employee may be appealed by him or her pursuant to s. 120.68, provided such appeal is filed within 30 days after the decision of the district school board.

(7)  The district school board of any given district shall grant continuing service credit for time spent performing duties as a member of the Legislature to any district employee who possesses a professional service contract, multiyear contract, or continuing contract.

(8)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any member who has retired may interrupt retirement and be reemployed in any public school. Any member so reemployed by the same district from which he or she retired may be employed on a probationary contractual basis as provided in subsection (1); however, no regular retirement employee shall be eligible to renew membership under a retirement system created by chapter 121 or chapter 238.

History.--s. 536, ch. 19355, 1939; CGL 1940 Supp. 892(140); s. 21, ch. 23726, 1947; s. 2, ch. 25363, 1949; s. 1, ch. 29890, 1955; s. 1, ch. 31391, 1956; s. 8, ch. 59-371; s. 1, ch. 59-252; s. 1, ch. 59-359; s. 1, ch. 59-421; s. 3, ch. 61-263; s. 12, ch. 63-376; s. 63, ch. 65-239; s. 2, ch. 65-424; s. 2, ch. 67-184; s. 6, ch. 67-387; ss. 15, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 1, ch. 69-300; s. 1, ch. 72-21; s. 2, ch. 72-215; s. 38, ch. 73-338; ss. 3, 4, ch. 74-351; s. 3, ch. 76-168; s. 1, ch. 77-457; s. 8, ch. 78-95; ss. 4, 11, ch. 80-190; s. 8, ch. 80-325; s. 9, ch. 80-378; ss. 2, 3, ch. 81-318; ss. 15, 28, 31, ch. 82-242; s. 10, ch. 83-324; s. 5, ch. 84-94; s. 1, ch. 84-213; s. 46, ch. 85-80; s. 10, ch. 86-156; s. 25, ch. 91-105; ss. 4, 7, ch. 92-67; s. 93, ch. 92-279; s. 55, ch. 92-326; s. 1247, ch. 95-147; s. 52, ch. 96-410; s. 2, ch. 97-310; ss. 33, 58, ch. 99-398; s. 32, ch. 2000-301; s. 11, ch. 2001-47.

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