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Long v. Independent School District No. 332, Mora

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

January 22, 2018

Shannon Long, Relator,
v.
Independent School District No. 332, Mora, Minnesota, Respondent, and Laurie Erickson, Relator,
v.
Independent School District No. 12, Centennial, Minnesota, Respondent.

         Independent School District No. 332 Independent School District No. 12, Centennial

          David Aron, Cedrick R. Frazier, Nicole M. Blissenbach, Education Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota (for relators)

          Kevin J. Rupp, Kristin C. Nierengarten, Rupp, Anderson, Squires & Waldspurger, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for respondents)

          Considered and decided by Rodenberg, Presiding Judge; Worke, Judge; and Reilly, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         The unambiguous language of Minn. Stat. § 122A.40, subd. 5 (2016), provides that a teacher who completes three consecutive years of teaching in a single Minnesota school district is entitled to a one-year probationary period in each subsequent Minnesota school district, not in a city of the first class, in which the teacher is later employed.

          OPINION

          REILLY, JUDGE

         Relators Shannon Long and Laurie Erickson challenge respondent school districts' decisions to nonrenew their teaching contracts. Relators argue that their prior completion of three consecutive years of teaching in a Minnesota school district entitled each of them to a one-year probationary period in respondent districts. Relators further argue that, by completing one year of teaching in respondent districts without adverse action from the districts, they completed their probationary periods and possessed continuing contracts. We conclude that Minn. Stat. § 122A.40, subd. 5, unambiguously provides that a teacher who completes three years teaching in a single Minnesota school district shall have a one-year probationary period in a subsequent Minnesota school district, not in a city of the first class, in which the teacher is later employed.[1] Because relators possessed continuing contracts that were not subject to nonrenewal, we reverse.

         FACTS

         Shannon Long's Teaching History

         Relator Shannon Long has been a licensed teacher in Minnesota since 2008. Long taught in the East Central School District for three consecutive years, from 2008 to 2011. At the end of the 2010-2011 school year, the East Central School District decided to nonrenew Long's contract at the end of her probationary period. Long then taught in the Cromwell-Wright School District for the 2011-2012 school year and the North Shore Community School for the 2012-2013 school year, and worked a number of substitute teaching positions during the 2013-2014 school year.

         Long began teaching in respondent Independent School District No. 332, Mora (the Mora School District) in 2014. Long taught in the Mora School District for three consecutive years. In the spring of 2017, the Mora School District decided not to renew Long's contract for a fourth year. As part of its nonrenewal decision, the board for the Mora School District determined that Long had not obtained a continuing contract while working for the Mora School District and could be nonrenewed under Minn. Stat. § 122A.40, subd. 5, as a probationary teacher. The Mora School District did not allow Long to request a hearing, presumably because the board believed her to be a probationary teacher, and a probationary teacher does not have a right to a hearing upon notice of termination. See Minn. Stat. § 122.40, subd. 5. Long filed this certiorari appeal.

         Laurie Erickson's Teaching History

         Relator Laurie Erickson has been a licensed teacher in Minnesota since 1993. Erickson taught in the Forest Lake School District for three consecutive years, from 1998 to 2001. At the end of the 2000-2001 school year, the Forest Lake School District decided to nonrenew Erickson's teaching contract. From 2001 to 2010, Erickson worked for a private day-treatment program, Human Services, Inc., as a special-education teacher. Erickson then taught in Intermediate School District 287 from 2010 to 2013. In the spring of 2013, Erickson's teaching contract ...


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