Tennessee Education Association

Great Public Schools for All Students


When professional livelihood is on the line, members count on TEA’s team of legal experts to have their back

No teacher ever expects to be in the position of their license being in jeopardy. Unfortunately, as a result of a combination of factors, TEA has seen a 200% increase in member licensure cases since 2017. 

For TEA member Jason Smith, his problems began with bureaucratic  red tape. When he was recruited to teach in Metro Nashville, his Oklahoma teaching license was to be transferred and he was to be placed on the salary schedule with credit for his more than 15 years of teaching in Oklahoma and Japan. 

When MNPS and the state did not follow through, Jason enlisted the help of then-TEA UniServ Mary Campbell and TEA’s Legal Advocacy team. It took almost two years of consistent pressure from TEA before the state properly transferred his teaching license and MNPS adjusted his pay to the appropriate salary step. In addition, the settlement reached by TEA lawyers included thousands in back pay for the time he was paid as an entry-level teacher.

“The support and expertise of TEA staff kept me calm and confident during a very stressful period of uncertainty for my family,” said Smith. “They not only resolved these issues for me, but they were patient and transparent with me every step of the way, ensuring I understood the process and how they were fighting for me and my family.”

In Jason’s case, and in many of the new cases coming in to TEA, the member has a great administrator, and the licensure issues they are facing are outside of the control of school leaders. 

In the past two years, the State Board of Education has increasingly overridden district-level licensure decisions and imposed suspensions. 

“Having strong, supportive school administrators and directors of schools has a significant impact on teacher morale and longevity in this profession,” said TEA President Beth Brown. “Teachers can have a false sense of security with supportive leadership at the school and district level. The increase in State Board licensure actions in recent years, particularly in cases where the local decided against any action, proves that teachers need the assurance of TEA’s expert legal team looking out for their best interests.”

The 200% increase in licensure cases TEA Legal has recorded only reflects the member cases filed with the association. 

Members may contact their TEA UniServ coordinator with any concerns or questions about licensing.

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