MSTA has been helping teachers with their legal questions and concerns for more than 150 years. Members with employment-related legal issues can contact the Legal Services Department directly. There is no need to speak with a shop steward, local president or other go-between. MSTA’s full-time Legal Services Department works with a network of attorneys throughout Missouri to assist members with school-employment issues. Benefits also include free workshops regarding teacher rights and responsibilities as well as representation at teacher termination hearings, DSS investigations, and DESE licensing hearings
Before problems arise, document all pertinent facts. Start the habit of making notes about any out-of-the-ordinary incidents. Jot down a brief description of who, what, when, where and how. Take notes during or after visits or meetings with supervisors regardless of the circumstances of the visit. If a problem arises later, your notes will help resolve it. Please make sure you maintain your documentation in a secure place where it will remain confidential. It is best to keep these notes at home.
Make copies. Copy evaluations, memos, correspondence, e-mails, job targets and everything you receive and everything you send that relates to your status as an employee of the school district. Keep this documentation organized in one location for easy access. Obtain and review a copy of your school board policies. A copy should be posted on your school website.
Contact MSTA. When faced with unusual circumstances, call MSTA sooner rather than later. In addition to legal advice, we can provide you with practical strategies for approaching sensitive situations and prevent further escalation. We also will assist you in providing notice to reserve your rights under the professional liability insurance policy. Be prepared to send copies of all relevant documentation.
Take another person with you to any meetings if you can. If you are called into a meeting regarding a serious matter, you may wish to have another person with you. When circumstances permit, your MSTA field coordinator is available for such meetings. Remember, administrators are not required to permit others in the meeting, so make a respectful request for a support person, rather than a demand. If the request is denied, do not refuse to attend the meeting or act in a manner that may be considered insubordinate. If you attend alone, take complete notes, get copies of any documents issued or discussed, and sign any documents that acknowledge your receipt of a copy. If the request for a support person is granted, the person you bring in should be quiet and polite. He or she is there to provide moral support and to listen and not to argue on your behalf.
Don’t resign. If you are asked to resign in a meeting with or without representation, insist on time to think about your answer and to check with MSTA for advice. Even if you are pressured to act immediately, you have legal due process rights, so there is always time to seek advice and make an informed decision.