How Do I Get Outta Here?

ISR is receiving disturbing reports from teachers moving on to new schools at the end of this academic year. The word is, some teachers are receiving little, if any, guidance or support with the processes required to correctly and legally exit their current school and host country.

Teachers are reporting the following:

  • Information on school checkout policies is incomplete or non-existent, making it difficult, if not impossible, to complete the required procedures and receive final pay checks.
  • How to legally exit the country permanently has not been discussed at some schools, leaving teachers afraid they will encounter problems and/or detainment at the airport.
  • Information on how to make final payments to utility companies and/or landlords to assure no residual problems has not been covered.
  • Details on how to receive reimbursement for airfare and shipping of personal goods has not been shared with leaving staff.

What we’re hearing at ISR is some schools “wined and dined” teachers on their way in, but are now giving those same teachers the cold shoulder as they depart for new horizons. Left to one’s own devices in a foreign country, exiting safely and legally can be a daunting experience.

If you’re in this predicament and need advice, you’ll want to post your questions on the ISR,  How Do I Get Outta Here? Blog. Chances are another ISR reader has been at your school or lived in your host country and can offer advice. If you had a memorable experience departing a particular school in the past, you may want to share with colleagues so we can all avoid the same experience in the future.

31 Responses to How Do I Get Outta Here?

  1. botox says:

    why don’t you people name the schools?

    Like

  2. away from home says:

    With regards to the two girls in Doha who are being screwed by the school and the company in Kuwait: I got them in touch with a lawyer who gave them some good advice. He said that because the school was accredited by a Canadian province, they should go to the Canadian Embassy and tell them the story. The school might end up losing their accreditation over this.
    It started because they were offered much better jobs at another school in Doha. They both gave the correct amount of notice according to the written contract. The school here have to give what is called a Letter of No Objection before they will release anyone. That is because they paid for the sponsorship. If they don’t get that letter then they can’t teach at another school in Doha. They had a choice, the letter of No Objection, or the money they were owed.
    The saga continues, but they might not be able to do all the legalities in time for taking the new job.
    BEWARE OF THE LAWs OF YOUR SCHOOL’S COUNTRY.

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    • Anonymous says:

      When I was in Shanghai between 2004-2008, the international schools there made an agreement to issue a statement clearing their leaving teachers (who wants to teach in Shanghai) for their status – whether they have completed their contracts, dismissed, voluntary resignation, etc, and if they are locally or overseas hired. But even with this, Shanghai American School wouldn’t consider you overseas hired when you are already in Shanghai – although you are directly hired form overseas by a previous school. BEWARE!

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Unity High School in Sudan fired teachers who had been at the school for several years, 10 days before the end of the year. They had no recourse as they didn’t have contracts. Contracts would have made this very expensive for the school by virtue of the local labour laws. Make sure you have signed contracts people, or don’t agree to stay! Protect yourselves any way you can! Luckily most of these teachers have found other jobs, as there is a need all around the world, but it was a stressful and difficult time.

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  4. away from home says:

    I am upset by what has happened to two woman at my school in Doha who, according to the contract, gave two months notice. They were told that they would be docked the 2 months wages, airfare home and bonus. For them each it amounts to a total of $12,000.00. The school has already replaced them but they are still being incredible mean to them and they are letting them know at the last minute. They already have the air plane tickets bought and are in a bad situation. The school is owned by a company in Kuwait.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Have they taken legal advice? The law of the country always supersedes any contract, but most people don’t realise this which schools use to their advantage. I was arbitrarily dismissed from a school once, and I left quietly because I wanted to leave, but the next person it happened to, took legal action and got a large compensation. It;s always worth checking out the legalities

      Like

    • botox says:

      what company? what school? how can you help if these people aren’t named?

      Like

  5. Friend of a runner says:

    My friend also had had enough and just up and left in the night, sure he lost his salary for that month, but he could take anymore of his Middle East misery, told no one and just didn’t turn in to work. Leaving in the night can be the right thing to do if you don’t mind losing a bit of cash. Sure he will get a job elsewhere. A reference isn’t always needed, I have known colleagues to get jobs without this.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I can understand someone being so miserable that they want to leave their job, but why they would expect to get paid for doing that, when they leave colleagues in a worse situation and kids without a teacher. I’ve had to cover for runners and I;ve done it for the sake of the kids. Sometimes we make a wrong turning but we should really try to stick out the year as professionals if we are truly in it for the education of children

      Like

  6. Peter says:

    Noblese International School in the Philippines refuses to pay the 2 months vacation pay unless you sign up for the third year. Essentially, a teacher who does not sign up again gets paid less the second year than they do the first year.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    I work for a school in Doha and am leaving at the end of June. My school pays me my entire July, August and gratuity at the end of June before I go. Its only a few thousand from my June salary they hold for any accommodation repairs. If there are not any, they forward it on to my non-qatari account. These is so simple and make employees who leave feel positive about their departure and not bitter. Don’t see why other schools cant practice this same procedure.

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  8. Sylvia Hall says:

    I worked at a small school in Doha, Qatar. To leave the country you need an exit permit and this is in the hands of the owner, the principal in this case. Often exit permits were withheld so that staff couldn’t leave the country. The owner of the school also refused to sign a letter of release so that staff would not be able to work for another school in Qatar. Gratuities were never paid and end of year salaries were withheld. If you wanted to leave the country then you had to forego your gratuity and final salary. There are several court cases pending against the principal/owner of the school. The school is Cedars.

    Like

    • away from home says:

      I too am in Doha, Qatar. It is the law that you are paid a gratuity here. Because they say that the salary is for 12 months, not the 10.5 you work, then that means that a portion is held back. They say that we can leave when school is over but we need exit visas, not given out until we are “signed off” on our housing and school-including being held responsible for books that kids might have not brought back.
      The school is owned by a company in Kuwait. At the beginning of the year we were told that we would have no sick days until we had worked for 4 months. Teachers wrote to Kuwait headquarters and said that it is when we are starting the school year that we need sick days…etc. Now, in order to take any sick leave we have to go to the doctor and get a certificate.
      To leave we have to have an exit visa which is only issued after an inspection. I have heard that they deduct any money owed from the final pay for things which they deem not as they were when we got them.
      For all teachers out there, make sure you understand how to do internet banking and transferring of funds to your home bank.
      Most definitely anyone leaving early would be foregoing the 2 months of July and August and the gratuity and the return airfare. If that hadn’t been the case we would have left in December, but that’s probably why they do it too.

      Like

  9. Anonymous says:

    BEWARE!!! I worked for a school in Kuwait for multiple years with a group of incredible teachers. We all “retired” at the same time, leaving behind a lot of great things. Our exit was not a party or a thanks but the top administration (including americans) accusing us of discussing sexual/political stuff with our students in the form of many topics. Since Kuwait is a seemingly traditional country adhearing to strict Islamic laws (based on what, I am still not sure and yes, I am very clear on this topic) the childern used these laws to get what they want.
    Ugly? yes….dont be romanced by the money…

    Like

  10. slave says:

    I signed a Letter of Intention in January, saying I intended to stay at my school in Kuwait for 2012-13. I changed my mind in March and gave over 5 months’ notice. They refuse to accept this and are threatening punitive legal action (unless I pay them about $15,000.)
    BEWARE!

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      It sounds like it is the same school I signed a letter of intent for in Kuwait. I gave them about 8 months notice and the names of three highly qualified applicants. They still refused to accept it and threatened to ban me from working for another school in Kuwait. Knowing how things work in Kuwait and not wanting to risk a no-fly ban, I packed up and accepted an offer in the UAE at the end to the school year.

      Like

      • slave says:

        In the end, I managed to get out by allowing them to keep our gratuities – about $4500. Their principled stance immediately crumbled! Recently found out they have stolen about $15,000 from the Staff Common Room account. They love money!

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  11. away from home says:

    I am in a situation where we were told that we could leave as soon as school finishes. Our pay isn’t put into the bank until after that date and to leave the country the bank account must be terminated. A colleague told me that she is making arrangements at the bank to close the account after 2 weeks. I hope that works.

    I don’t think that I will be in a situation that a friend was in with another company, he couldn’t leave until his entire apartment was painted-landlords claiming that he did damage to it. In this country you have to get an exit visa to leave. That means that all has to be in order or you just can’t go anywhere.

    Another friend in the same country had to sell his car and get a police clearance before leaving.

    These are not things that they tell you when you are hired.

    Like

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is typical treatment in Western Europe for sure. I worked in Spain for a while and the school helped you find housing to begin with but then left you completely on your own. For a while, the business office would help with small things but then that stopped. There was no help with unethical landlords ( and they almost always keep the security deposit from foreigners…in some cases this was $6,000!)

    Like

  13. Anonymous says:

    Is it common for a school to hold pay until after the contract expires? At my school we are due a 12% service gratuity at the end of the contract, but the school is holding it until 2 weeks after the contract ends. The vast majority of teachers will have to leave the country for their new jobs before the the final paycheck is received or contractual bonus is paid. Is there anything teachers can do about this?

    Like

    • Trav45 says:

      I think this is pretty common. I’m leaving this year, and won’t get my gratuity until August. The schools keeps it to cover any costs you may leave behind you! Seems fair enough. We’ll see if I still think that in August!

      Like

      • slave says:

        There is a difference between withholding money in case of unforeseen costs and simply refusing to pay. The former is wisdom, the latter, theft. In my own case, it’s extortion. None of it is pretty!

        Like

        • Anonymous says:

          It really depends when your contract ends. Term may end in June or July but contracts often don;t end til August, If you start a contract in August, it ends end July, if you start in Sept it ends end of August….. so schools quite rightly don;t pay end of contract gratuities until the actual end of contract, not when you are leaving the country!

          Like

      • botox says:

        see my review of Egyptian American International School

        Like

  14. Happy Enging says:

    I was at this school in 1992. I don’t think it would be fair to post the name at this point. There has been at least 5 directors since that time and I know for a fact the school has been completely turned around. If it was recently that I had this experience I would post the name.

    Like

  15. Anonymous says:

    It would be a service to the ISR community for you to share the name of this “school in Central America.”

    Like

  16. Happy Ending says:

    I worked at a school in Central America some years ago. The board fired all the American teachers at the end of year breakfast. We had no idea it was coming. We all still had our cars, apartments, TV, furniture, etc.

    My landlord, upon hearing I was leaving, immediately had is attorney contact me and ask for $2500 to cover everything from lost rent to repainting. Apparently they repaint after each tenant. That explained the thickness of the walls. I agreed that the owner deserved this money and set a date to come by and pay. The last thing you want to do is have someone block your exit with legal documents at the airport. So, best to be compliant and understanding so as not to raise any suspicion.

    I got my car sold in a few days to a car lot – lost some money but that’s life. Then I bought a ticket home directly from the airline so as to avoid travel agents, as they all knew the school and would question why I wanted a one-way ticket. I packed my stuff into suitcases, left the furniture with a local teacher who sold it for me and we eventually split the money.

    Once back in the States the school contacted me and wanted me to pay the $2500 to the landlord. Why was I not surprised? This school was incorporated in the US and claimed non profit status.

    All 11 of us that were fired filed for unemployment in our home State. The school tried to say we all walked out on them and we should not get it. Getting caught in a lie to the US government is not good. We all had our letters of dismissal. The school was later held liable for attempting to defraud and had to reimburse all the money in unemployment paid out to the teachers. Since the school had to sign as the guarantor on each teachers apartment I’m sure they paid that too.

    For the longest time the school sent me letters saying that if I would pay the $2500 they would reimburse the plane ticket home. But to get back the $625 I would first have to pay the $2500. This was completely consistent with how they ran this school and cheated kids and parents on every front imaginable.

    My advice is that if you find yourself on your own, get out as soon as you can and say nothing that could raise any suspicion or cause someone to get a court order that would block you at the airport.

    Good luck to anyone in this position.

    Like

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