Do I Have to Pay for Lost or Stolen Textbooks?

textbooks flying awayKnow Your Rights

It’s that time of year again! As the final semester of the 2015-16 school year comes to a close, many teachers may find themselves faced with a dilemma – some of their textbooks, library books, calculators, iPads, or other instructional devices and materials may have disappeared!

While this may not be a dire situation for a campus to deal with, towards the end of every school year we end up with panicked calls from our members asking this very important question:

Do I have to pay for lost or stolen textbooks?

Typically someone will forward us an email their principal sent out to the staff telling them that they will be required to pay for any textbooks, instructional materials, or instructional devices (iPads, calculators, etc.) that may have been damaged, lost, or stolen from their classrooms. If you have used any of those items in your classroom, you know that they are not cheap! Those Texas Instruments graphing calculators found in many math classrooms can cost over $100 each. iPads can cost anywhere from $200-400, or more. Needless to say, these kinds of unexpected expenses could really put a dent in a teachers’ summer plans.

But there is good news. The answer to the question of whether or not you can be required to pay for lost or stolen textbooks?


According to the Texas Education Code chapter 31.104(e):

(e) The board of trustees of a school district may not require an employee of the district who acts in good faith to pay for instructional materials or technological equipment that is damaged, stolen, misplaced, or not returned.

This includes textbooks, calculators, iPads, laptops, and more. So if you or your colleagues receive anything from your administrators saying that you’re responsible for paying for lost or stolen textbooks or instructional materials, please let us know as soon as possible! Administrators should know that they aren’t allowed to require teachers to pay for these things, but we hear about it happening every year, regardless.

It’s important to know your rights and to exercise them! We have a Know Your Rights training that we bring to our members that includes information like this code about instructional materials, the state laws that protect a teacher’s duty-free lunch time, the Education Austin consultation agreement that entitles classified employees to due process, and much, much more. If you’re interested in having us bring our Know Your Rights training to your campus, please give us a call! Also, know that the best way to protect yourself and to stay informed about your rights is by being a member of Education Austin. Join us and help us fight to make Austin ISD the best district possible!

Get in touch with our office by emailing us or by calling 512.472.1124.