Contracts - Tips from the BoEE - May 2022

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Educator Contracts

Top 10 BOEE Tips on Educator Contracts

It's the time of year when school districts are issuing teacher contracts and employment offers.  At the BOEE, we often get questions such as:  What do I do if I already signed a contract with my current district, but I have another position offer that I want to take?  Here are the top 10 Tips on Educator Contracts to remember:

  1. Although Iowa is an at-will state for employment, this does not translate into at-will positions for educators unless your employment offer states that it is an at-will position.  
  2. If you sign a contract under Iowa Code section 279.13, it is legally binding and enforceable under the law. Iowa Code § 279.13.
  3. If you have a continuing contract, make sure you understand the terms of the continuing contract and discuss it with your union representative or legal counsel.
  4. Talk with your union representative or your legal counsel regarding the terms of your contract.  Some contracts include a monetary break fee of $1000.00 or more.  The BOEE does not represent educators in contract cases.
  5. Under the Code of Conduct, if an educator enters into a contract for the upcoming school year and breaks the contract before June 30th, it would NOT be a violation of the BOEE Code of Conduct standards.  Standard 25.3(5).  The district can still enforce a monetary break fee.
  6. If an educator breaks a contract after June 30 or during the middle of the school year, the district may file an ethics complaint against the educator.  Standard 25.3(5)  The district is responsible for prosecuting the ethics complaint against the educator if the Board finds probable cause, and the educator is responsible for representing themselves or hiring an attorney.  Iowa Code § 272.2(4).
  7. If there is a finding of an ethical violation and a sanction is issued by the BOEE, it will be on your permanent record and searchable in other states.
  8. The possible sanctions for a contract break include:  a written reprimand, a suspension of the educator's license, completion of a 15 hour ethics course at the licensee’s expense, etc.  
  9. If you break a contract with one district to go to another district, you are putting both districts in a bad position and this may not work in your favor.  You may also be leaving students in a bind.  
  10. If at all possible, try to finish out your contract to avoid legal liability and ethical complaints.  

If you need legal advice, be sure to contact your union representative or legal counsel.  If you have any questions about the ethical standards, you may contact Nicole Proesch at or call 515-242-6506.