When a child’s parents have undergone a divorce or another legal proceeding adjudicating rights and duties to a child, there is some basic information to be aware of as it relates to the child’s education. In the context of special education, a parent may present you with a copy of a court order and demand that it be followed in the process of providing services to the student.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who famously used the power of his office to support fellow Republican Donald Trump and thwart the policies of his Democratic predecessor, vowed Wednesday to vigorously oppose an hours-old Biden administration he labeled as lawless.  While President Joe Biden was laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Paxton tweeted a message congratulating the new president, saying: "On Inauguration Day, I wish our country the best."  But Paxton immediately shifted tone, accusing Biden of preparing to embark on a spree of illegal activity. view article arw

Presenting an in-depth, interactive workshop on critical topics of legal concern related to personnel management and special education issues in the COVID-19 era for public school human resources administrators, special education administrators, principals, and superintendents. view article arw

Parents of Black students in Frisco Independent School District say the district is finally addressing a complaint they've had for years. The Texas Education Agency asked the district to take action after data shows Frisco was suspending more African-American Special ED students, than students of other races view article arw

A Gregg County judge has set the sentencing hearing for a former Sabine Independent School District teacher’s aide who is charged with inappropriate relationship with a student. Cassie Wyn Dowden is awaiting sentencing for improper relationship between an educator and a student. Dowden appeared in court Wednesday as part of a plea agreement hearing. Judge J. Scott Novy heard the plea agreement and scheduled Dowden’s sentencing for March 24. view article arw

HOUSTON – Texas cities, counties and even school districts hoping to jump of the Juul litigation bandwagon will most likely not be able to board, as Attorney General Ken Paxton recently rejected two contingent contracts seeking to green light lawsuits against the vaping company. Back in October, Harris County sent a contingent fee contract to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for approval, seeking to pursue claims against the manufactures, distributors and marketers of vaping and e-cigarette products. “Vaping products are marketed to Harris County’s youth and lead to significant increases in adverse health effects related to vaping and nicotine addiction,” the request stated. view article arw

Today, state lawmakers gaveled in the first day of the 87th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature. The multi-billion dollar question now before legislators: How much money does the State have to write its budget? Monday’s biennial revenue estimate from State Comptroller Glenn Hegar offered a clearer picture of what lies ahead for public education and the entire state. Our back-of-the-envelope math details enough sources to fully fund public education, including all the advances made last session through House Bill 3. view article arw

Ropes ISD administration has announced they have received information in regards to a Ropes ISD employee being arrested for online solicitation of a minor. Ropes ISD made the announcement through Facebook Wednesday morning. William Simonton, 26, was arrested on Monday, Jan. 11, at an apartment complex in South Lubbock. view article arw

JEFFERSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WCHS) — A civil rights lawsuit has been filed against the superintendent of schools in Jefferson County on behalf of two employees who were suspended after they attended the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, D.C. The lawsuit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia at Martinsburg on behalf of school employees Tina Renner and Pamela McDonald. It was filed against Jefferson County School Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson. view article arw

One of two individuals charged in connection with the alleged theft of thousands of dollars from the Greenville Independent School District has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge. Tevin Jamal Brookins, 28, of Greenville, had been indicted on a felony charge of theft of property by a public servant of the value of $2,500 or more but less than $30,000. He had pleaded not guilty and a trial date had not been set in the case. But during a Jan. 7 hearing in the 196th District Court Brookins pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of theft of between $750 and $2,500. Under a plea agreement, Brookins was sentenced to 56 days in the Hunt County Detention Center, with 56 days served. As of the end of 2020, a change of venue to Rockwall County had been granted and a trial scheduled for a second defendant in the case, a former Greenville ISD official. Special prosecutor Raegan Lambert, Assistant Attorney General with the Texas Attorney General’s Office claimed Ralph Sanders would have an unfair advantage if the trial remained at the Hunt County Courthouse. view article arw

The former superintendent of New Caney ISD is facing a theft charge. Kenn Franklin is accused of submitting fictitious expense sheets at least 22 times during 2020, adding up to well over $2,500 in reimbursements, according to court records. The complaint states school district police suspected the then-superintendent was returning travel vouchers for work trips he didn’t actually take. The concerns popped up after employees did not see him at an event he said he had traveled to. view article arw

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath has appointed two longtime special education administrators to oversee wide-ranging changes in Houston ISD’s delivery of services to students with disabilities, which last year came under withering criticism from state investigators.  The selection of conservators Molly Cordeau and Fred Shafer follows a state-initiated special accreditation investigation completed in September 2020 that found HISD has failed to rectify “significant, systemic and widespread” issues in the district’s special education department. Cordeau and Shafer will have the power to order changes in the district, though much of their work likely will involve coordination with district staff implementing new policies and practices. view article arw

New Caney ISD's former Superintendent Kenn Franklin, who suddenly left his position in mid-November, was arrested at 3:05 p.m. Jan. 7 and charged with alleged theft of at least $30,000 and tampering with a government record, according to arrest records from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.  According to Montgomery County Jail records and formal complaints made with the Montgomery County District Clerk's Office, Franklin is accused of stealing more than or equal to $30,000 but less than $150,000 from the school district, which is a third degree felony. Franklin is also being charged with tampering with a government record with the intent to defraud or harm, which is a state jail felony. view article arw

We are delighted to report that our firm presented on Preventing Workplace Harassment for employees at Horizon Montessori Public Schools on January 5, 2021. Attorneys Sara Leon, Michelle Alcala, and John Janssen presented to an audience of over 100 on how to identify various forms of employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation, howto respond to reports of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and why preventing various forms of employment discrimination is important for staff and employers alike. view article arw

Your most effective tool for advocacy this legislative session is sitting in your board room…but they will need to be trained. Prepare your trustees to skillfully communicate with legislators using consistent messaging and techniques employed by successful lobbyists. School Boards are required to receive Legislative Update training this year, so why not equip them to participate in the process? view article arw

From March until June, Texas had zero jury trials because of the pandemic, starting a backlog of cases that will take years to overcome. This summer some counties started experimenting with in-person jury trials, which have posed health risks for those involved.   It had been a month since his criminal trial began, but Teron Pratt was still awaiting judgment when he walked into a Central Texas courtroom last fall in gray slacks, a matching button-down shirt and a brown face mask.  A weekslong trial for car burglary is far from typical, but these were abnormal times — as evidenced by the blue X’s taped onto half of the jury box chairs, and bottles of hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes scattered throughout the courtroom.    (08) view article arw

Texas is still temporarily barred from taking over Houston Independent School District, a state appellate court ruled Wednesday, upholding a lower court's order. In a 2-1 ruling, the Texas Third Court of Appeals upheld a temporary injunction that stops the Texas Education Agency from replacing the elected school board of its largest district with an appointed board of managers. The appeals court ruling sends the case back to the lower court that in January blocked the state's takeover effort. view article arw

On December 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 Question and Answer technical assistance to include questions related to vaccination requirements. We offer a summary of some of the more relevant questions from the guidance below; the full document (found here) also addresses pre-vaccination screening questions, as well as the application of the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act to vaccination requirements. view article arw

A judge’s order temporarily halting the replacement of Houston ISD’s elected trustees should remain in place largely because Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath did not follow laws and procedures that would give him the authority to strip power from the school board, a state appellate court ruled Wednesday.    (04) view article arw

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the popular Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals could continue, recipients of the program were cautiously optimistic about its future.  That caution was justified: Another effort to undo the program, this time led by the state of Texas, will go before a federal judge Tuesday in Houston.  As of June, there were about 645,000 beneficiaries of the DACA program in the country, including about 106,400 in Texas, according to federal government statistics. The program, which grants recipients a renewable, two-year work permit and a reprieve from deportation proceedings, is open to undocumented immigrants who came to the country before they turned 16 and who were 30 or younger as of June 2012. To qualify, applicants must pass a background check and be enrolled in school, have graduated or have earned a GED. view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A former Austin High School student is publicly sharing her account of a sexual assault for the first time.Julia Heilrayne says a classmate inappropriately touched her several years ago and school officials didn’t act. Her goal now is to spark change within the district to prevent it from happening to others.  “There were times when it was really hard to focus in class or when I just left class and just sat in the bathroom to avoid everything,” Heilrayne, now a freshman in college, said. “It was incredibly draining showing up to school every day, walking the hallways and seeing my principal who silenced me, showing me that they didn’t care.” view article arw

Attorney General Ken Paxton, battling his own legal troubles, announced the long-anticipated federal lawsuit in a video posted on social media. Nine other states with Republican attorneys general are also plaintiffs in the case.  Texas is leading a 10-state lawsuit against the internet giant Google, accusing the company of anti-competitive conduct in advertising.  In a buzzy video posted to social media Wednesday afternoon, Attorney General Ken Paxton — who is struggling to bounce back from a nadir in his political career — announced that Texas and nine other states are challenging Google’s advertising practices, which he called anti-competitive. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Texas, claims Google “uses its powerful position on every side of the online display markets to unlawfully exclude competition.” view article arw

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is again garnering national headlines — this time, for leading a coalition of 10 Republican states in lodging an antitrust lawsuit against Google.  The suit, filed in federal court in east Texas on Wednesday, concerns the way the tech giant buys and sells online ads. The attorneys general allege that Google has a “trillion-dollar monopoly” on online display-advertising and used illegal methods to manipulate ad auctions.  Google quickly barked back on Wednesday, calling the claims “meritless” in a statement. The filing follows a September 2019 announcement that Texas, alongside more than 40 attorneys general nationwide, would launch an antitrust investigation into the company.    (18) view article arw

The long and troubled relationship between Harlandale Independent School District and Jasmine Engineering is finally over. This less than amicable divorce has left taxpayers, in one of the poorest school districts in San Antonio, who also happen to pay one of the highest property tax rates in town, with a $700,000 tab.    (18) view article arw

TEXARKANA, Texas (KETK) – Over the weekend a woman broke into a Liberty-Eylau ISD elementary school and stole several computers and candy for Christmas parties.  Liberty-Eylau ISD officials are searching for the woman. If you recognize them, contact Liberty Eylau ISD by emailing them at bart.veal@leisd.net or Jason.Wooldridge@leisd.net. view article arw

A federal judge in Dallas has sentenced an attorney to six months in federal prison for his role in the bribery scandal that spelled the end of Dallas County Schools, the agency that used to operate the school buses for Dallas ISD and a number of other local school districts.   New Orleans lawyer Richard Reynolds is the sixth person to be sentenced in connection with an FBI investigation into the financial collapse of DCS, a scandal first uncovered in a months-long NBC 5 investigation.  Reynolds admitted he used his law firm to help facilitate and conceal some of the bribe payments made by school bus camera company owner Robert Leonard to Dallas County schools superintendent Rick Sorrells.    (14) view article arw

Bryan ISD is experiencing some delays on the sale of their former administration building. Back in May the school district authorized the sale of the Travis Education Support Center. The sale for $2.45 million was to Computers, Electronics, Office, ETC. Limited, which is a local company. The district said the company has terminated that contract. They are now looking at other options. The school district no longer needed the building after bond improvements remodeled the former Stephen F. Austin campus into an Administration Building in 2018. view article arw

A teacher with Bremond ISD allegedly had improper relations with a student. Bremond ISD Superintendent Daryl Stuard told 25 News that when the district received the allegations of teacher misconduct, the district immediately contacted Child Protective Services and local law enforcement. view article arw

The Mesquite ISD formed a committee, Leadership and Empowerment Team (LET), to have conversations about inclusion, justice and equity in the school district.  A group of Mesquite ISD educational leaders formed a committee during the summer following the death of George Floyd. This began a national conversation over racial inclusion that enabled MISD to engage on a district level. “What we found is that getting feedback from people who work in the district and students who spend time in the classrooms, is that we have some areas where we can definitely grow and some areas where you can see the foundation has already been laid,” LET coordinator Daniel Norwood said. “From that work, we've started to dive in together and start to look at how we learn together, about the issues, we start to look at how equal our schools are, and how we’ve helped students overcome barriers that might have been caused by historical inequities.” view article arw

A school nurse for Rosebud-Lott ISD has been arrested for allegedly having an improper relationship with a student. Falls County Constable Jerry Loden says Erin Lewie turned herself in around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 9. She has been charged with an improper relationship between an educator and student, a second degree felony. view article arw

Texans are learning that the state’s attorney general isn’t a very good lawyer. Ken Paxton sued four other states this week, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to toss the Electoral College votes from Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin because of the election changes they made in response to the pandemic.  All four states voted for Joe Biden. If their 62 Electoral College votes went the other way, Donald Trump would get a second term as president.  Maybe this was supposed to have the effect of challenging other states’ results. Maybe it’s just a political shot across the bow to support the president’s unfounded contention that he didn’t lose an election in which he got 7.1 million fewer votes than the other guy. Maybe it’s a Paxton bid for a preemptive pardon, given that the FBI is investigating the attorney general’s dealings with an Austin real estate investor and Paxton campaign contributor, according to the Associated Press.    (10) view article arw

A civil lawsuit against an online ammunition marketplace and the parents of the accused Santa Fe High School gunman has been remanded from federal to state court, according to federal records.  The lawsuit, which was originally filed in Galveston County Court of Law in May, alleges the May 18, 2018 mass shooting on the Santa Fe High School campus that left eight students and two teachers dead was enabled by the “illegal and negligent actions” of Luckygunner, LLC, a Tennessee-based company that operates Luckygunner.com, an online marketplace for firearm ammunition.  The suit contends that the website sold more than 100 rounds of ammunition to Dimitrios Pagourtzis, then a 17-year old junior at Santa Fe High School, without verifying his age.  U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Brown signed an order Monday remanding the case back to state court view article arw

Austin Independent School District leaders addressed employee concerns after more than a thousand staff members were denied medical accommodations to work from home in the Spring semester. KVUE previously reported that, of the 1,156 total medical accommodations requests received from teachers for the spring 2021 semester, Austin ISD approved 49. For comparison, more than 1,200 of those requests were approved during the Fall semester. view article arw

The Carroll school district says it will likely appeal a temporary restraining order that was issued early last week to stop work on the Cultural Competence Action Plan. That plan generated controversy last summer when some parents said it promoted “reverse racism.” Last week, a state district judge ordered the Carroll school district to halt work on the plan, stating that documents indicate that the district intends to implement the plan in the future. view article arw

TEXAS, USA — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit against Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, stating that the states exploited the COVID-19 Pandemic to justify ignoring federal and state election laws.  The lawsuit also states that the states enacted last-minute changes, skewing the results of the 2020 general election. view article arw