The new Iberia Parish teacher contract includes damages clause

Posted at 4:12 PM, May 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-15 17:12:15-04

When Iberia Parish teachers get their contract this week for the 2018-19 school year, there will be a new clause in it.

The clause requires that educators pay the school system $1,200 in damages if they renege on the contract, said board attorney Wayne Landry. 

The contract, which covers teachers’ employment for the 2018-19 school year only, must be signed by employees within a certain time, Landry said. In other words, there is a deadline for teachers to decide. 

The clause is triggered if the teacher who signed the contract saying he or she would teach for Iberia Parish next year takes a job in another parish, Landry said. 

Historically, some teachers have signed their contract with Iberia Parish, then gone out to look for another job, he said. Other parishes make decisions in August, and that meant that Iberia school principals were left in a lurch – losing a teacher they thought they had because a contract was signed, he said. 

"It’s an unfair practice," Landry said. "They’re locking a position in, and then shopping in another parish." 

Certified teachers are hard to find, especially at the last minute, Landry said. 

If a teacher decides not to sign the contract before the deadline, he or she can still apply to work for Iberia Parish and may even find that they will get the job they had this year, he said. 

"We just want to be certain we have the teachers we need," he said. 

We received this statement from Trasima Richard, president of the Iberia Federation of Teachers and School Employees, in response to the new clause:

As President of the Iberia Parish Federation of Teachers, I must say our members are disappointed in Iberia Parish’s leadership. As one of the largest organization in Iberia Parish, we always look to represent our members and voice their concerns to the superintendent. With the budget cuts and large class sizes, this one-sided agreement basically does not guarantee any teacher the same position or salary for the next school year.  If a teacher seeks employment elsewhere, they will know what position they are teaching, and what is their expected salary.  During the summer, many teachers often look for positions that are not offered in Iberia Parish, some of which include administrative positions. It is a shame that many of Iberia Parish highly qualified teachers will leave this summer with a heavy burden on their mind, “Will I have a job or not?” or “do not have $1200 to pay for a breach of contract.”  The children of Iberia Parish deserve better. They deserve to have educational leaders who willing to work with their teachers so that they will return.  Teachers should not be forced into pay $1200 for a breach of contract, if Iberia Parish cannot offer them a guaranteed position, pay raise, or a promotion.