Career Advice Opinion

Contract Ethics

By AAEE — May 15, 2008 2 min read
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As you progress through the job search process, there may be offers that come from school districts at job fairs, over the phone, or at the end of an interview. School districts feel that once a candidate has agreed and accepted a contractual offer that the candidate will honor their commitment. I know what you are saying, “this was a really short post and why would a personnel director make such a simple comment.”

Well, the reason for this post is simple, I will agree. Candidates don’t always honor their commitment. I would like to say that districts always do but that would be an oversimplification of the problem. I have been at job fairs and seen individuals walking around bragging that they had 3 or 4 intent letters or contracts. Now I know people like to hedge their bets, but this is pushing the limit of ethical behavior.

School districts that offer letters of intent expect the candidate who accepts the letter to discontinue their search. Obviously, there are two sides to this story. If an individual is recruited or interviewed and is offerred a contract/letter, they should know what that means. Most contract law will talk about a duty to perform. Understand that when a school district makes a decision they are not planning to continue the search. Individuals need to start the process of transitioning in to the mind set and physical reality of the work that lies ahead.

In our area because we have a dozen school districts within 15 miles of each other, we know when someone is playing a game or trying to play one district against another. This leaves a very bad taste and may hinder a persons ability to advance as time goes on. I know we attempt to track those offerred contracts/letters and we know who might resign or not show up for work.

Being ethical in this process is the most professional thing you can do. If you are offerred a letter of intent, declining the letter won’t create a bad situation for you. If you come to a district to interview and they offer you a contract, realize that the expectation is you will take it. Once again, “never apply/interview for a position unless you are willing to take that position.” Nothing makes a district more frustrated than to do their work, get to the point of selection, and then the candidate says pass. The offer may not come your way again. Hence, the reason for the research and understanding of the district, school, student population, and community prior to your on site interview.

We used to use a hand shake because that was a persons “bond”. Those days have changed but as a candidate understand that the district has expectations. Those are that you as an individual are honorable and ethical. Please do not let us down!

Doug Peden
Executive Director of Human Resources
Falcon School District
Colorado Springs, Colorado

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