As the school year winds down, we remind school officials of Revised School Code Section 1236 and how it affects a substitute teacher’s rights to continued employment, compensation, and fringe benefits. The Michigan Court of Appeals has interpreted “substitute teacher” to mean, for purposes of Section 1236, a teacher who serves in place of a regular teacher. Notably, this interpretation does not apply to a substitute teacher retained through a third-party contractor.
Under Section 1236, a substitute teacher employed for at least 150 days of a 180-day school year must, after all other teachers are reemployed, be given the first opportunity (either during that school year or the immediately succeeding school year) to accept a contract for any position for which the substitute teacher is certified. The same right of first refusal applies to a substitute teacher employed for at least 180 days in an ISD that operates a program for 220 days. This right of first refusal does not, however, apply to a substitute teacher who fulfills the duties of a “teacher who is unable to teach due to a terminal illness.”
Section 1236 defines a “day” as “the working day of the regular, full-time teacher for whom the substitute teacher substitutes.” A quarter-day, half-day, or other daily fraction of the substitute’s service must be counted as the fraction worked unless the school acknowledges a fraction of a day and pays it as a full day, in which case the time counts as a full day.
The right of first refusal for an open position does not require that the substitute serve in the same position assigned. If, however, a substitute teacher assigned to one specific teaching position completes 60 days in that assignment, the substitute is entitled to a salary of not less than the minimum salary on the school’s current schedule for the assignment’s duration. The substitute teacher also is entitled to leave time and “other privileges.” While not defined by statute, an informal Attorney General opinion suggests that “other privileges” are benefits granted in a collective bargaining agreement to regularly employed teachers.
Be sure to monitor the number of days that each school-employed substitute teacher works. Failing to do so could significantly limit the school’s discretion over hiring and salary decisions.