Breaking a contract is common when teachers find new positions that pay more money. This places the school the teacher currently works for in a precarious position. If the breach of contract occurs just before or during the academic year, the school must find a quality replacement quickly. The legal consequences of breaking the contract are typically defined within the document and vary state to state.
Pulling of License or Certificate
A license or teaching certificate may be pulled and suspended if a teacher breaks her contract. This action prevents her from teaching in a classroom. A suspended certificate may be reinstated later, however. This action, such as in Arizona, can be time-consuming, requiring multiple board meetings through the action of pulling the certificate and the appeals process.
If a school board were to break a teacher's contract, such as with an improper firing, the teacher would be able to receive monetary damages for that action. The school district has the same ability to recoup monetary losses associated with the loss of the teacher. These might include the costs incurred by the district in finding a replacement. Many contracts include provision for damages the teacher must pay to the school district if she breaks the contract.
Letter of Censure
A letter of censure, while not a legal measure, could be placed into the teacher's record. A letter of censure is a formal reprimand. Censure can make it difficult for a teacher to advance into administration positions. It can also make another school district wary of hiring such a teacher.
Ask for Release
The proper way to exit a teaching contract is to ask formally to be released from it. Releases are typically granted to those who have emergency needs, such as medical or family issues. School districts will consider release requests. The more time the teacher gives the district to find a suitable replacement, the more likely the district is to grant the release request.