During the 87th Legislative Session, the Legislature made several revisions to the discipline of students receiving special education services under House Bill 785. It is imperative that districts are aware of, and comply with, these new requirements, which became effective on September 1, 2021. A summary is as follows:

Big changes are on the way for Beaumont ISD'S Memorial Stadium. It appears the stadium will get a new name following a series of votes from the school board. The school board met Thursday night to consider changing the name of the Beaumont Independent School District’s Memorial Stadium again. The motion passed to change the name, but school officials didn’t specify if it would be back to Carrol “Butch” Thomas. view article arw

WASHINGTON (TND) — The Supreme Court will hear the case of a high school football coach who lost his job for praying midfield after games. Joseph Kennedy’s legal team is arguing his removal as coach violates the First Amendment. Ilya Shapiro, director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the CATO Institute, said Kennedy has a “really strong case.” “What the 9th Circuit did was essentially say that it would be a violation of the Establishment Clause, the separation of church and state, to allow him to engage in his private speech that he's not compelling anyone to join him in after football games. I think that's a bridge too far,” said Shapiro to The National Desk’s Jan Jeffcoat. “The fact that the court took this case is a solid indication they're looking to reverse.” view article arw

An FBI spokesperson said the agency was present on two streets around Cuellar’s house in Laredo “conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity.” view article arw

A parent is accusing the Eanes Independent School District of “multiple violations” of the Texas Open Meetings Act after it hired a diversity consultant. In a lawsuit filed by Christie Oates, she said board members and superintendent Dr. Tom Leonard spoke secretly about hiring Dr. Mark Gooden, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant. Gooden, who was hired in Summer 2020, led a district-wide committee to help “create a shared understanding of DEI through racial equity leadership training to build capacity and support sustainability,” among other goals. view article arw

he Travis County district attorney on Thursday found that Attorney General Ken Paxton violated the state's open records law by not turning over his communications from last January when he visited Washington, D.C., for a pro-Trump rally that preceded the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.  The district attorney's office gave Paxton four days to turn over the documents or face a lawsuit. The action was prompted by a Jan. 4, 2022, complaint by the top editors at five of the state's largest newspapers: the Austin American-Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News. The journalists argued that Paxton was withholding communications from the days surrounding Paxton's trip to Washington last year that are subject to public release under the state's open records law. view article arw

A special court of review cleared state Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, D-Austin, after the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct rebuked the former Travis County judge for wearing a pink "pussyhat" during a commissioners court meeting and making fun of Gov. Greg Abbott's disability at a Texas Tribune event. The commission, which investigates judicial misconduct complaints, admonished Eckhardt over the incidents in December 2020, saying she engaged in "willful conduct that cast public discredit upon the judiciary." Eckhardt disputed the commission's jurisdiction, noting that a county judge in Texas has no judicial role, despite the title. Texas county judges operate as the county chief executive and preside over commissioners courts. The special court of review sided with Eckhardt in an opinion issued Tuesday, writing that Eckhardt was a "'judge' in name only" and that the commission overreached in rebuking her.    (13) view article arw

SAN ANTONIO – Northside Independent School District had to make changes to bus routes after thieves stole catalytic converters from 16 of its mini buses, according to district officials. The theft happened at the North Transportation Station on Hausman early Tuesday morning. The theft meant multiple bus routes were delayed later that morning. NISD said it now has other vehicles designated to run the routes for the time being. view article arw

CALDWELL, Texas — Three of the Caldwell ISD students who were indicted for an alleged hazing incident on a school bus back in September have taken plea deals for a lesser charge. Katherine Hart, 18, and two other minor students from Caldwell each pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of unlawful restraint. This is a misdemeanor charge, a significant drop from the felony organized criminal activity-unlawful restraint and indecency with a child charges they were facing. view article arw

The district did see an increase in the drugs-alcohol-tobacco category, theft-burglary-robbery category and also the weapons category.  A new report from Killeen Independent School District shows that crime is down compared to previous years and now district leaders are hoping to keep the trend that way.  The KISD School Board, along with other district leaders reviewed their annual Texas Academic Performance Report at Tuesday's meeting. The report had multiple sections including the crime report from the KISD police chief. view article arw

“Small possession of marijuana is not the type of violation that we want to stockpile jails with,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday.  As greater numbers of Texas voters sour on harsh punishment for marijuana offenses, Austin voters will likely decide in May whether to effectively  decriminalize the drug.  The ballot measure, pushed by the group Ground Game Texas, would forbid Austin police officers in most cases from ticketing or arresting people on low-level pot charges like possessing small amounts of the drug or related paraphernalia — unless the offenses are tied to more severe crimes. The city also would not pay to test substances suspected to be marijuana — a key step in substantiating drug charges.    (12) view article arw

Neither of the top candidates for governor of Texas wants to keep jailing people for possession of marijuana. Reefer madness has been replaced by reefer indifference. The shift at the top level of politics reflects a shift in public opinion — politicians are nothing if not sensitive to voter sentiment — and a change in popular culture that has turned the proverbial “gateway drug” into one that’s legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia and has decriminalized in several more. Texas isn’t on that list of states, at least not yet. While public policy hasn’t shifted much, public opinion has. view article arw

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A Texas Court of Appeals says Gov. Greg Abbott doesn’t have the authority to ban local governments from imposing mask mandates. Click to submit a coronavirus story tip On Thursday, the 345th District Court of Travis County upheld a previous trial court decision denying Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton’s invocation of the Texas Disaster Act to reason the limit on local entities and school districts. view article arw

Two more people have been arrested in connection with the summer 2021 spray painting of graffiti at two separate Belton ISD campuses. Nathan Leggette and Christopher Wayne Ashley were arrested after earlier Jaeden Lee Mitchell had been charged in the case. Nathan Leggette was arrested at his rural Belton residence by the Bell County Sheriff’s Department on January 4, 2022, at approximately 2:30 p.m. At approximately 5:45 pm, Christopher Ashley was arrested at his Temple residence by the Belton Police Department view article arw

McALLEN, Texas – A 42-year-old Penitas resident and La Joya Independent School District (ISD) trustee has admitted to receiving more than $234,000 in bribes, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery. Armin Garza admitted he participated in a conspiracy to steer lucrative energy savings contracts at various political subdivisions in Hidalgo County, including La Joya ISD. In exchange, Garza and other co-conspirators received bribes and kickbacks from subcontractors selected to work on the energy savings contracts. As part of his plea, Garza admitted to using his influence over LJISD employees who were elected officials at other political subdivisions in Hidalgo County. The employees subsequently received promotions or pay raises. They also voted to award or attempted to award the same company energy savings contracts at three other political subdivisions in Hidalgo County. view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin ISD said it is "optimistic" about its own mask mandate lawsuit as the Third Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled in favor of local authorities upholding mask requirements in Harris County.   AISD said the ruling provides further legal support for the district's own mask mandate, which is still in effect against Gov. Abbott's executive order prohibiting such mandates.    (07) view article arw

HIDALGO TEXAS, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A member of the La Joya Independent School District (ISD) Board of Trustees pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States government through a four-year scheme. Starr County Sheriffs investigating after body found on ranch On Thursday, Armin Garza, a La Joya ISD board of trustees member, entered a guilty plea on a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States that was brought against him on Wednesday. view article arw

The Round Rock ISD board of trustees took no action on a recommendation from Texas Education Agency monitor David Faltys to put Superintendent Hafedh Azaiez on administrative leave. The recommendation would have had the board conduct an investigation of underlying conduct described in a protective order the Travis County District Court issued in July. A one-page memo from Faltys attached to the board agenda also recommends the hiring of an external investigator. The board's decision to take no action came after three hours of executive session. view article arw

At a called meeting Dec. 13, the MISD Board of Trustees voted to adopt a resolution requesting that the Texas Attorney General file suit seeking an injunction to stop enforcement of the federal government’s mask and vaccine mandates as related to the Head Start program.  The Resolution titled “A Resolution Requesting the Attorney General to File Suit on Behalf of The District Seeking an Injunction Against COVID-19 Mandates Related to the Head Start Program” will be posted on the MISD website.  view article arw

Houston ISD’s former chief operating officer and a vendor have been indicted in connection with an alleged bribery scheme that already has resulted in plea agreements with several former district officials, including former Board of Education President Rhonda Skillern-Jones, federal authorities announced Thursday. Authorities arrested former COO Brian Busby, 43, and contract vendor Anthony Hutchison, 60, both of Houston, on Thursday, according to the United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas. They are expected to appear before a judge Thursday afternoon. “This investigation and resulting indictments reflect my office’s commitment to rooting out public corruption,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery said in a statement. “We will not stand idly by when there are people in positions of trust who are suspected of such wrongdoing.” According to the 26-count indictment, Busby is accused of helping award HISD construction and grounds maintenance contracts to Hutchison in return for cash bribes and hundreds of thousands of dollars in home remodeling. “For most of his adult life, Brian Busby has been a loyal employee of HISD, rising from the lowest employment to chief operating officer,” said Dick DeGuerin, Busby’s lawyer    (17) view article arw

Lubbock ISD and the State of Texas filed a motion Tuesday to temporarily stop a Biden Administration mask and vaccine mandate in Head Start programs from going into effect. The motion was part of an ongoing lawsuit against the administration. According to court documents, due to a Biden Administration mandate signed November 30, all Head Start staff, contractors and volunteers were required to start wearing masks while working starting immediately and were required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 31, 2022. view article arw

Six boys and one nonbinary student sued saying Magnolia ISD's policy was discriminatory and illegal. Now that the district has retracted it, officials have promised to remedy the harm the policy caused.  Magnolia ISD students who were reprimanded, suspended and barred from classes and activities this fall for wearing their hair long will have those disciplinary actions wiped from their school records as part of a deal to resolve a policy civil rights groups flagged as illegal and discriminatory, according to an attorney for the seven students.  Brian Klosterboer, of the ACLU of Texas, said he expects the deal approved at Monday night's school board meeting will be formalized in federal court filings this week.  view article arw

The justices allowed the challenge against the law to proceed but mangled abortion providers' legal strategy and set the table for another elongated court fight. Meanwhile, abortion access in the state remains severely restricted. view article arw

A Houston-area school district has reversed a dress code policy that prohibited male and nonbinary students from wearing long hair — more than a month after a lawsuit accused the district of enforcing a discriminatory rule. view article arw

A North Texas school district appears to be the first to be investigated by the state education agency over whether it gave students access to books with “sexually explicit content,” according to a letter sent to the district that was obtained by the Dallas Morning News. view article arw

Loop ISD was evacuated Thursday and parents were asked to pick up their children from school after a bomb threat was called in, according to an official with the Texas Department of Public Safety. The call happened around 11:40 a.m. Thursday. The Gaines County Sheriff’s Office, DPS, and the Seagraves Police Department responded first. The school building was cleared and the ATF and Texas Rangers were contacted. view article arw

Plano ISD officials say they will delay moving into the new Robbie & Lynore Robinson Fine Arts Center after discovering “significant cracking as a result of poor workmanship and/or design.” The grand opening for the $67.5 million fine arts center, which was scheduled for mid-January, has been postponed, officials said. “We will announce a new grand opening date as soon as we are able because we understand the ripple effect this has on our district and community,” Plano ISD Superintendent of Schools Sara Bonser said in a Dec. 9 statement. “Plano ISD students deserve a facility that honors their commitment to the arts, and our goal is to make sure that you, our district and our community, can be proud of our new home for the arts in Plano ISD.” view article arw

A Comal County ISD student was arrested on campus this week after allegedly making threats to harm other students. According to a letter sent to parents from Davenport High School Principal Matthew DeLoach, the student made threats in class on Wednesday. The student was removed from class and arrested by Comal County Sheriff’s Office deputies. DeLoach said the student was charged with making terroristic threats. view article arw

Two lawsuits seeking $100 million each have been filed against a Michigan school district, its superintendent, principal and others after four students were fatally shot and others wounded at Oxford High School, a lawyer announced Thursday. The lawsuits were filed in federal court in Detroit, attorney Geoffrey Fieger said Thursday. They were filed on behalf of a student who was shot in the neck and wounded during the Nov. 30 shooting and her sister, who was next to her at the time of the shooting. Named in the suits are the Oxford Community School District, Superintendent Timothy Throne, Oxford High School principal Steven Wolf, the dean of students, two counselors, two teachers and a staff member.    (10) view article arw

LAKE JACKSON, Texas – Two more teens have been arrested, bringing the total to three, charged in connection with the severe beating of one of their classmates at a social gathering in Lake Jackson, KPRC 2 Investigates learned on Tuesday. Ayden Holland, 17, and Logan Huber, 18, have both been charged with aggravated assault. Their arrests come days after 17-year-old Reid Mitchell was also charged with the same offense. view article arw

WASHINGTON — After imposing a strict church-state separation for decades, the Supreme Court appears poised to allow — and in some cases even require — more government funding of church-run schools. Legal experts say that could open the door to church-sponsored charter schools operating with public funds in many cities. The court’s shift to the right on religion and schools may not be as sharp and dramatic as on abortion and guns, but its impact could prove to be just as far-reaching. view article arw

If the Supreme Court decides to overturn or gut the decision that legalized abortion, some fear that it could undermine other precedent-setting cases, including civil rights and LGBTQ protections. Overturning Roe v. Wade would have a bigger effect than most cases because it was reaffirmed by a second decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, three decades later, legal scholars and advocates said. The Supreme Court’s conservative majority signaled in arguments last week they would allow states to ban abortion much earlier in pregnancy and may even overturn the nationwide right that has existed for nearly 50 years. A decision is expected next summer. view article arw

During the 2021 Regular Legislative Session, there were a number of proposed bills regarding reading instruction considered by both the bodies of the Texas Legislature, but ultimately, none of the proposed legislation survived the lawmaking gauntlet to be passed into law.

DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) — Dripping Spring ISD’s PTA Council hosted a virtual meeting for parents, educating them on maneuvering through common legal issues in public schools.  The second meeting in a series called “Tiger Talks” was Tuesday at 6 p.m.  From students skipping school for a parent-led protest to lawsuits over mask rules, these issues have partly fueled the latest conversation titled, “Common Legal Issues in Public Schools.” view article arw

A judge has delayed a lawsuit over the proposed censure of two Round Rock ISD board trustees. Lawyers now need to prove if the court actually has jurisdiction over the case. Trustees Dr. Mary Bone and Danielle Weston sued the other five board trustees after facing the possible censure, which would have limited their abilities on the board. The other five trustees claim Bone's and Weston's actions at a Sept. 14 board meeting led to disruptions. view article arw