May is when school districts provide letters to their employees concerning their employment status for the next school year. This is required by statute (RCW 28A.405) for nonrenewal of contracts with certificated staff, and encouraged to help control unemployment claims for non-contracted certificated and all nine-month classified staff.
No unemployment benefits for school employees during scheduled breaks.
The reason for this is that the employee accepted a job for the school district which involved work only during the school year (typically 180 days).
Washington State Law
The law in Washington State (RCW 50.44.050) denies unemployment compensation benefits to persons employed with school districts during scheduled breaks (including summer) if they will return to basically the same job after the scheduled break:
“Benefits shall not be paid based on any and all services in any other capacity for any and all educational institutions for any week of unemployment which commences during the period between two successive academic years … if … there is a reasonable assurance that such individual will perform such services in the second of such academic years or terms.” RCW 50.44.050 (2) (The same exclusion applies to other scheduled school breaks.)
The Employment Security Department determines an educational employee’s eligibility for unemployment benefits between academic years or terms based on “reasonable assurance” that the employee will have continued employment during the following academic year.
The existence of a contract or showing of reasonable assurance can establish continued employment.
RCW 50.44.053 (1) defines “reasonable assurance” as “a written, verbal, or implied agreement that the employee will perform services in the same capacity during the ensuing academic year or term as in the first academic year or term.”
“In the same capacity” is later defined as “under the same terms or conditions of employment in the ensuing year as in the first academic year or term.”
In the absence of a written contract, a school district may document this reasonable assurance of continued employment by using what is referred to as a reasonable assurance letter. This letter should state that the employee has reasonable assurance of continued employment in the next academic year. Some districts also use this letter to document the continued interest of substitutes to work in their district the next school year.