Letters of Intent

This is Alaska Teacher Placement (ATP) forum for teachers, education majors, and school administrators to discuss working and living in the state of Alaska. Those considering an Alaskan job, or considering a new Alaskan education job ask questions, and those with information and/or opinions provide answers. Although many users are teacher or principal candidates from the Lower 48, a large number of current and former school district HR and school administrators subscribe.

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Letters of Intent

Postby Yaffasmom » Wed Jan 05, 2022 6:56 pm

Hello,
I am writing again with a question...letters of intent-are these really good things for us? I am wondering if it is better to try it on your own? For example, if I do not sign a letter of intent and pursue SCHOOLS I am interested in, not specific districts, but specific schools, would this be a better way, a more efficient way to get what I am looking for? I am pretty sure I have one district who is ready to offer me a letter, but I have specific wants and needs. I am also considering a completely different school district that has not been talking to me yet. I am interested in this second district but am not sure how they proceed or what they do to hire. I have emailed 2 different principals but have not yet heard anything. So tell me feelings about letters of intent....

Should I wait and hope for one specific school? Or should I sign a letter as a guarantee? I have several preferred schools and am not closed minded, I just know what I am looking for. I am afraid the letter of intent will not allow me choice. Any thoughts or guidance are helpful. I did not mention the schools as I do not want to bias anyone or speak badly. So that is why they are not mentioned by name.
Amy
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Re: Letters of Intent

Postby Johncn » Thu Jan 06, 2022 9:27 am

Hi Amy,

I am not a lawyer, so take this advice with a grain of proverbial salt.

When I worked as an administrator for districts in Alaska, we were told by our lawyer to presume that Letters of Intent were binding on the district, but not on the candidate. I think this is because there are subtle variations that matter in the way that such letters are written, and that most staff issue such letters are not qualified to know. So, to err on the side of protecting the district, we were only to use them in cases where we (the school district) was ready to be committed to a hire...and would not back out because it would mean a protracted and expensive legal process. The teacher would at least have enough traction to initiate an action, although he or she may not be successful. Letters of Intent are not clearly and cleanly defined in most states.

In contrast, teaching contracts are regulated by well established contract law, and by both Alaska Statutes (AS), and Alaska Administrative Code (ACC). If a teacher or administrator breaks a contract, he or she is sanctioned by the state, and loses his or her teaching certificate. I have seen this happen numerous times in my career. There are specific consequences written into Alaska teacher contracts (usually in conjunction the local bargaining unit) which spell out the financial penalty a district can impose if said contract is breached by the educator which include both the financial penalty, and the professional license sanction. In addition, these are not, according to the Alaska Professional Teaching Practices Commission (PTPC), mutually exclusive. In other words they can/will take your certificate away AND keep the amount of the specified penalty from your last check (or sue you for it if you have not started work). There are remedies in law for teachers, too, if a district fails to provide a job, but these are simply part of basic contract law.

Check out: 4 AAC 18.010(d) and 20 AAC 10.020(d)(15), and the Professional Teaching Practices Commission sanctions under AS 14.20.030(a)(3) and (4).

Here is a sample Letter of Intent (LOI) used by a district:

Image

As you can see, this one clearly states that it is binding upon the District. Conversely, they "hope" the educator will consider joining their staff. This seems to spell out the degree of commitment the District has, while signing it does not specify anything beyond "hopes" and "consideration" for the teacher. I am not aware of a single case in which any district I worked for offered an LOI and did not follow through. This is not any sort of state approved form, of course, and Letters of Intent used by districts can certainly vary. If you have a concern, seek legal advice, as we are not qualified to provide guidance on anything. However, this is an actual LOI from an Alaska district.

The bottom line for educators is that an LOI is as good (in most cases) as a contract offer of a job. The districts is serious. You should be, too, if you sign one. If you change your mind, let the district know immediately. I would not collect LOIs from multiple districts "shopping" for the best offer. Under no circumstances, however, should an educator break an Alaska teaching contract, or there WILL be a consequence. :shock:

Hope this helps.

John
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