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What are the 'other duties' not specified in my contract?

I just signed my first teaching contract. I am concerned about one paragraph that refers to "other duties" I may be asked to perform. Other than teaching my students, what duties may I have to do?

Congratulations on your first teaching job. Teaching is a demanding profession, especially for someone just starting out. For this reason, VEA has helped win important protections on the "other duties" teachers may be required to perform.

For example, VEA assisted members who felt that their teaching jobs were in jeopardy after giving up a coaching assignment. We succeeded in getting language in state statute that requires separate contracts for any paid supplementary athletic coaching or extracurricular sponsorship assignment. Having a separate contract allows a teacher to choose whether to be a coach or sponsor without jeopardizing her teaching job.

Another example: VEAs work led to a state law protecting teachers from being forced to perform certain health-related services. Virginia Code now provides that licensed instructional employees shall not be disciplined or dismissed for refusing to perform non-emergency health-related services for students, or refusing to obtain training in the administration of insulin and glucagons. (Note: instructional aides and clerical employees may not refuse to dispense oral medications. Also, other health services may be included in the job description and duties of an instructional aide.)

Language requiring an employee to perform "other reasonable duties" is routine in professional contracts, but VEA succeeded in having the standard teaching contract amended to state that those tasks must be "pertinent" to the employee's professional duties. Some common tasks teachers are asked to perform include hall, bus, cafeteria, or playground duty supervising students.

Rarely, we must assist members who are asked to perform unusual and potentially dangerous assignments, such as searching the school after bomb threats, directing traffic on public streets, or driving a student home after school or practice.

Contact VEA for advice if you have questions about a direction or assignment. Also, your local VEA/NEA UniServ Director can help you communicate with school officials if you have specific health or other reasons that might be grounds for having you excused from specific duties, or provided with an alternative assignment.


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