Tennessee Education Association

Great Public Schools for All Students


Answers from the experts at the TEA Hotline

Q: I’m a non-tenured teacher in my fifth year with my school district. Does my district have to grant me tenure this year?

A: To become eligible for tenure, a teacher must meet all the statutory criteria in Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-5-503 & 504. The teacher must have a degree from an approved four-year college or university (or equivalent training as determined by the State Board), hold a valid Tennessee teacher license covering the subject or grade level taught, have completed a probationary period of five years or 45 months in a seven-year period as a probationary teacher (the last two years as a regular classroom teacher) and have received evaluations showing a Level of Effectiveness (LOE) of four (4) or five (5) in the last two (2) years of the probationary period. The Director of Schools (DOS) must then recommend the teacher for tenure to the local Board of Education (BOE), and the BOE must vote to grant the teacher tenure status. If the DOS does not recommend the teacher for tenure, or the Board does not vote to grant tenure, the teacher cannot acquire tenure status.

Q: I am so excited finally to be eligible for tenure this year! What happens if I am not recommended for tenure by the Director of Schools?

A: In accord with Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-5-504(b), if a tenure- eligible teacher is not recommended for tenure by the DOS, then that teacher’s contract of employment must be non-renewed. If the teacher is recommended for tenure by the DOS, but the local Board does not vote to grant the teacher tenure, then that teacher cannot be continued in employment with the district.

Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-5-409, a notice of non-renewal of contract from the DOS or BOE, as appropriate, must be in writing and sent within five (5) business days following the last day of instruction to be effective for the next school year. The notice must be sent by certified mail or overnight carrier to the teacher’s physical mailing address on file with the school district or by electronic mail to the email address the school district uses to communicate with the teacher.

If you have any questions about tenure eligibility or non-renewal of your teaching contract, contact your UniServ Coordinator or building representative for assistance.

Q: I have a job offer from a school system that is not my first choice. How long can I wait to respond to the offer?

A: Once a teacher receives a written offer of employment from a school district, the teacher has 14 calendar days to accept or reject the offer in writing if the offer was made between April 1st and June 1st. If the offer was made between June 1st and the following April 1st, the teacher must accept or reject the offer in writing within five (5) business days. A business day is a day other than Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday.

The TEA Advocacy Hotline supports local leaders and building representatives in answering member questions. If you have an employment-related question, please contact your building rep or UniServ coordinator.

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