You have plenty of rights and benefits.
When you begin your job as an educator, you enter as a non-tenured — or probationary — employee for three years from the date of employment. During that probationary period, your contract is for one year. At the conclusion of any one of those first three years, your contract may not be renewed for any or no reason by the school system with appropriate notice. You may also choose to resign at the end of any of those three years with appropriate notice (usually May 1).
It may sound a bit gloomy, but you still have plenty of rights and benefits to protect you as you find your footing in your new career. You are absolutely entitled to all benefits of the contract that your local association negotiates for you, including protection from, and the ability to challenge, lower level discipline issued without just cause, and all planning time and short-term leave provisions.
Non-tenured educators should expect to be observed and evaluated in each of your first three years. You are again protected by the observation and evaluation process negotiated by your local association. State law ensures that non-tenured employees receive the support of a mentor and guarantees additional professional development and specific, ongoing support to help you achieve tenure.
If your school system tries to suspend you or terminate your contract during the course of the school year, you are entitled to due process protections, including notice of the alleged infraction, an opportunity to respond, and a hearing during which witnesses may be called to testify and be subjected to cross-examination.
As a new educator, review your contract carefully, know your association building representative, and save your local’s contact info in your phone. MSEA and your local are ready to provide you with support and guidance in navigating your exciting and challenging first years.