Policy Details Page

Policy 5521

PURPOSE:  This policy memorializes the District’s intent that the majority of staff positions are required to be performed on-campus at a District building and this policy defines how the District will evaluate whether remote work is an option for a staff position.

Tacoma Public Schools strives for a positive working culture for its staff members, which is based, in-part, through the strong relationships with each other.  The District believes that in-person work is necessary to build and maintain positive working relationships.  The District also believes that some remote working time, if allowed by the nature of the staff position, can also improve work outcomes and foster work-life balance by eliminating commute times.

Remote work, or Telecommuting, allows employees to work from home (or another non-District location) through telecommunications technology rather than commuting to a District building.  Depending on the details of the arrangement, remote work constitutes either a portion of the employee’s work schedule up to eighty-percent (80%) per week. This policy permits a Tacoma Public Schools employee to work remotely in-part when approved by their Supervisor, their corresponding Cabinet Member, Human Resources, the Chief Financial Officer (if the remote work arrangement is out-of-state) and the Superintendent.  The District allows the use of remote work arrangements within the bounds of responsiveness to our community, business operations and resource limitations.

The District will determine on a case-by-case basis whether any position is appropriate for remote work in accordance with the terms of this policy, the accompanying regulation, the  job description and the department’s and District’s needs.  Any remote work arrangement is subject to the terms of this policy.  The District reserves the right to re-evaluate remote work authorizations on a case-by-case basis.  Should the District determine at any time that the remote work arrangement is not satisfactory, the District reserves the right in its sole discretion to cancel the remote work authorization.  In addition, remote work authorizations are not guaranteed for any specified period, and the District may require employees to return to on-campus work at any time and for any reason. Staff concerns about remote work that are not resolved at the supervisory level may be raised through District Policy 5270 – Resolution of Staff Complaints.


Remote Work Agreements

Remote work arrangements are for regularly recurring, weekly remote work and must be supported by a remote work agreement that specifies the requirements and details of the arrangements.

Designation of Workspace

For purposes of applicable state and federal laws, an employee who works remotely maintains their worksite as the office the employee reports to on in-person days or receives assignments from.

Policy Considerations

Remote-work employees must comply with all applicable state laws and District policies and regulations as well as any collective bargaining agreements for represented employees.  Some policy considerations include:

1.  District Property, Confidentiality and Data Security

The District will provide technology devices to the employee in order to perform remote-work. Remote-work employees must adhere to all District policies regarding confidentiality of student information.  Reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that District property is safeguarded. Laptops and other electronic devices should not be left in cars or other spaces vulnerable to theft.

2. Records Retention and Public Records

The work employees do while working remotely remains subject to District records retention and public records policies as well as state laws.

3. Leaves of Absence

Remote-work employees are still eligible to take leave under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and all Washington State and Tacoma City sick pay and leave laws.  Remote-work employees should still record time off due to any District-provided leave (e.g. Family leave, Personal Leave, Sick Leave, Vacation Leave, Bereavement Leave) using the applicable timekeeping method designated by the payroll department.  Policy 5400, Leaves of Absence, applies to remote-work employees.  Employee requests for remote work as a disability accommodation or pregnancy accommodation are handled through the accommodation process separate from the process for remote work described in this policy.  Employees should discuss concerns about accommodation-related remote work requests with their Human Resources Partner or the District’s ADA Office.

4. Worker’s Compensation

Work-related injuries at the remote work site, during agreed-upon working hours, are covered by Workers’ Compensation. Additionally, the employee and the District will agree upon which specific area of the employee’s home (or other location) constitutes their home office or work station.  Remote work employees must immediately report any worker’s compensation injuries to their supervisor and to the Worker’s Compensation Manager.

5. Responsiveness

Employees working remotely are expected to uphold high quality responsiveness and service-level commitments to their constituents. The Remote Work Agreement should outline regular scheduled hours for availability. In-person attendance requests from an employee's supervisor can override regular telework-schedules (e.g. department meetings, in-person training). 


Employee types and remote work

Administrators – Because Administrators are Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exempt and do not have regularly set, pre-determined work hours, administrative positions that are not school-building based are generally eligible for remote work authorization.  The District expects that school principals are needed in-person at their building to respond to students, their families and staff.

Certificated Staff - Regular building teachers and other certificated, non-administrative staff are generally required to be present with students in school buildings are generally not eligible for remote work authorization. 

Classified Staff - Classified staff assigned to school buildings are generally not eligible for remote work authorization.  Professional/technical staff not assigned to a school building may be eligible for remote work authorization.

Exceptions to this policy based upon a demonstrated District need may be granted by the Superintendent after consultation with the employee's supervisor and corresponding cabinet member, the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, the Chief Financial Officer and the General Counsel.  Tacoma Online (TOL) School staff are subject to the working expectations set by TOL and District administration.

Legal References:

29 U.S.C 201 et seq. Fair Labor Standards Act

Management Resources:

Policy 2023 – Digital Rights and Media Literacy


Policy 4020 – Confidential Communications

Policy 4040 – Public Access to District Records

Policy 5010 – Employee Conduct Rules

Policy 5201 – Drug-Free Schools, Community and Workplace

Policy 5207 – Safety and Civility in the Workplace

Policy 5251 – Ethics

Policy 5270 – Resolution of Staff Complaints
Policy 5400 – Leaves of Absence

Policy 6250 – Use of District-Owned Equipment

Policy 6300 – Data Security

Policy 6973 – Acceptable Use Policy for Digital Resources


Adoption Date: 9/09/2021

  • 5521
  • policy
  • remote work
  • telecommuting