This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).




Kathryn Haddad,



Independent School District No. 272,

Eden Prairie, Minnesota,


Filed March 2, 1999


Kalitowski, Judge

School Board of Independent School District No. 272

Christina L. Clark, Education Minnesota, 41 Sherburne Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55103 (for relator)

Marie C. Skinner, Knutson, Flynn, Deans & Olsen, P.A., 1155 Centre Point Drive, Suite 10, Mendota Heights, MN 55120 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Short, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.



After discharge from the Eden Prairie School District, relator Kathryn Haddad asserts that the school district erred in determining she was a probationary rather than a tenured teacher. We affirm.


This court will reverse a school board's decision to terminate a teacher only if that decision was fraudulent, arbitrary, unreasonable, not supported by substantial evidence on the record, not within the school board's jurisdiction, or based on an erroneous theory of law. Ganyo v. Independent School Dist. No. 832, 311 N.W.2d 497, 500 (Minn. 1981). The construction of a statute is a question of law, and thus, is fully reviewable by this court. Hibbing Educ. Ass'n v. Public Employment Relations Bd., 369 N.W.2d 527, 529 (Minn. 1985).

Teachers' contracts impliedly incorporate the provisions of the state's tenure laws. Minnesota Ass'n of Public Schools v. Hanson, 287 Minn. 415, 423, 178 N.W.2d 846, 852 (1970). Minnesota's tenure law states in part:

The first three consecutive years of a teacher's first teaching experience in Minnesota in a single school district shall be deemed to be a probationary period of employment * * * Evaluation by the peer review committee charged with evaluating probationary teachers * * * shall occur at least three times each year for a teacher performing services on 60 to 119 school days, and at least one time each year for a teacher performing services on fewer than 60 school days.

Minn. Stat. § 125.12, subd. 3 (1996).[1]

Relator was employed as a full-time teacher by respondent school district during the 1993-94 and 1994-95 school years before taking a one-year leave of absence. After returning from leave, relator was employed as a full-time teacher by the school district during the 1996-97 and 1997-98 school years. Relator claims that an employee on leave from a school district remains an employee of the school district for tenure purposes. She thus contends she achieved tenure status in 1996 because she was employed by the school district for three consecutive years. We disagree.

"Under the provisions of Minn. St. 125.12, the right to a continuing contract is to be determined by the extent of continuous teaching employment within a district * * *." Perry v. Independent School Dist. No. 696, 297 Minn. 197, 203, 210 N.W.2d 283, 287 (1973) (emphasis added). Moreover, if a teacher is on leave there is no opportunity to evaluate the teacher as required by Minn. Stat. § 125.12, subd. 3. Thus, while a teacher may have employment status while on leave, a year of leave is not a year of teaching employment for purposes of achieving tenure.

Relator also contends the school district erred because her leave of absence year should be counted only as a "year in abeyance" for purposes of achieving tenure, and thus she achieved tenured status after her first year back from leave at the end of the 1996-97 school year. We disagree. Relator has cited no authority for the "abeyance" argument. Further, relator's argument is in direct contradiction to the language of the statute, which requires three consecutive years of teaching experience in one district in order to achieve tenure.

Additionally, we reject relator's argument that she acquired tenure rights because of alleged statements by school district officials that after her leave she only needed to teach one more year to achieve tenure. Relator may not achieve tenure through the operation of estoppel. See Board of Ed. of City of Mpls. v. Sand, 227 Minn. 202, 211, 34 N.W.2d 689, 695 (1948) (noting that estoppel cannot be invoked to confer governmental power upon a political subdivision when that power is otherwise lacking). "Teacher tenure is the creature of statute, and no one can have a valid claim to tenure except as authorized by statute." Id. Because Minn. Stat. § 125.12, subd. 3, requires three consecutive years of teaching experience in a single school district, we conclude that relator could not achieve tenure as a result of statements by school district employees.

Finally, in her reply brief relator requests that we remand this case to the school board to supplement the record because: (1) relator worked as a substitute teacher for respondent school district during part of the year she was on leave of absence; and (2) this year of substitute teaching constituted a year of probationary teaching employment. We deny relator's request. Minnesota law addresses probationary rights of substitute teachers and states that substitute teachers that work "[f]or a duration of time equal to or greater than one school year" shall be deemed to qualify for one year of the teacher's probationary period. Minn. Stat. § 122A.44, subd. 2 (1998). Because relator concedes she was a substitute teacher for less than a full school year, she is not entitled to credit for a year of probationary employment and there is no need to supplement the record.


[1] This statute has been renumbered as Minn. Stat. § 122A.40, subd. 5 (1998).