Powers v. Sonora ISD, Dkt. No. 112-R10-0812 (Comm’r Educ. April 1, 2015).
Facts: Victoria Powers held a probationary contract with Sonora ISD, when she received notice of termination of her probationary contract. Powers was present at the board meeting when the board voted to terminate her probationary contract at the end of the contract period. Powers challenged her termination, as well as her Summative Annual Appraisal.
Holding: The Commissioner upheld Powers’ termination, but held that her Summative Annual Appraisal was invalid. Under 19 Tex. Admin. Code § 150.1003(h), a teacher must be given a summative annual appraisal conference. The conference is “the teacher’s last opportunity to change what would otherwise be a poor appraisal,” according to the Commissioner. In this case, although Powers was given an appraisal report and she filed a written response to the report, she was never given an appraisal conference. The Commissioner held that “a complete failure to provide a summative annual appraisal conference is sufficient to invalidate a summative annual appraisal report.”
Powers also claimed that she was not given timely notice of termination of her probationary contract. Notice is governed by Texas Education Code § 21.103. Powers argued that the old version of § 21.103 applied because it was in effect at the time she signed the contract. That prior version required notice to be given 45 days before the last day of instruction. Notice could be written or oral under the old version of the statute. However, the current statute requires written notice not later than the 10th day before the last day of instruction. The Commissioner did not decide which should apply, but held that notice was timely under either version of § 21.103. The record showed the Powers was at the board hearing when the board voted to terminate the contract. That occurred within 45 days before the last day of instruction under the contract. Therefore, the Commissioner upheld the woman’s termination.