In April this year the Texas Supreme Court appears to have sunk to a new low in rebutting not only the Me Too movement, but the common sense barometer. Before them was a sexual harassment case whose facts would shock the senses of most readers; the case involves a female school employee who claimed sexual harassment by her fellow female employees. See Alamo Heights Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Clark, 544 S.W.3d 755 (Tex. 2018).

An allegation of sexual harassment has led to the resignation of one of Dallas ISD’s top administrators. DISD Deputy Superintendent Israel Cordero — the district’s second-in-command — resigned Thursday, a day after being placed on administrative leave by superintendent Michael Hinojosa. view article arw

The Texas Attorney General’s Office on Friday warned the Austin Independent School District not to make a policy change that could prevent a local church from renting a school facility for Sunday sermons. Under a short-term rental agreement, the district has been renting out its Performing Arts Center in East Austin to the Georgetown-based Celebration Church since Aug. 26. Last month, protesters gathered outside the venue waving pride flags and calling on Austin ISD not to rent to a church that opposes gay marriage. view article arw

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office on Friday warned Austin school district officials against blocking a Christian church that opposes gay marriage from using district facilities, saying such action would violate state law and the First Amendment.  Celebration Church of Georgetown has been holding services most Sundays since Aug. 26 at the Austin district’s Performing Arts Center under a short-term rental agreement, prompting protests from gay rights and civil rights advocates. view article arw

Ruben Esquivel, 33, has been arrested after Edgewood ISD police say that he threatened to kill employees at a school on Tuesday. According to an arrest affidavit, Esquivel was at Gardendale Elementary on the west-side when he began yelling and screaming at an employee, who was so scared for her safety that she didn’t want to pick up the phone and call police because she was afraid that the suspect would escalate his violent threats. view article arw

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A week after resigning, the former superintendent of one of Dallas’ largest and oldest charter schools returned to defend her name as well as her use of school funds.  During the public comment portion of Tuesday’s A.W. Brown Leadership Academies school board meeting, Laura Mimms spoke publicly for the first time since her resignation. view article arw

Carthage ISD has no intention of settling a parent-filed Title IX lawsuit that says the district failed to stop the spread of a nude video of a female student, officials said Monday. And after a full day in Marshall spent with a mediator in the case — part of a normal process in any civil lawsuit that’s designed to try to resolve a case before it goes to trial — Superintendent Glenn Hambrick and Carthage ISD school board President Ben Donald reported to their colleagues at Monday’s trustee meeting that they didn’t settle the case and have no plans to do so. view article arw

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The future of a small private Christian school in Boise is in flux after its chairman was indicted last month as part of a cellphone smuggling ring.  Petra Academy's chairman, Peter Babichenko, is one of 10 people named in a federal indictment Aug. 22. view article arw

A 31-year-old Spring Branch ISD teacher has been charged with sexual assault of a child and is accused of having an "improper relationship" with a student. Police arrested Whitney Grunder Laidlaw following allegations the Cornerstone Academy teacher had inappropriate contact with a student during the summer break. view article arw

A former Dickinson High School teacher and coach has turned herself in to authorities after she reportedly had an inappropriate relationship with a student. Authorities say 28-year-old Kirstin Pike was charged with improper relationship between an educator and a student following the allegations. view article arw

Two high-profile lawsuits filed against Houston ISD — one by former chief auditor Richard Patton, another involving former Furr High School principal Bertie Simmons — could soon be settled, according to district records and legal documents. HISD trustees are scheduled to consider settlement agreements in the two cases during the closed session portion of Thursday’s school board meeting. Board members could vote to approve the agreements during open session later Thursday. view article arw

A 39-year-old former Houston ISD teacher is facing felony charges of indecency with a child and improper relationship with a student, after a 10-year-old girl came forward to her mother, claiming the man inappropriately touched her at school for approximately two months. view article arw

Amid the current national debate over immigration policies, racial discrimination, LGBTQ rights, and executive power, the anniversary of an important legal and political dispute that has directly shaped that debate will pass quietly, its legacy all but forgotten.  In September 1958, sixty years ago next week, the United States Supreme Court finally earned its hard-fought reputation as a co-equal branch of the federal government, in a courtroom drama filled with urgency and uncertainty view article arw

State auditors said the Texas Education Agency seriously mismanaged the processes of procuring two major education contracts over the last couple of years, including a no-bid special education contract that lost the state more than $2 million. In an audit released Wednesday morning, the State Auditor's Office reviewed the education agency's work and found it failed to follow all the required steps before offering a no-bid $4.4 million contract to SPEDx, which was hired to analyze how schools serve students with disabilities and help create a long-term special education plan for the state. view article arw

A former Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District employee described her relationship with a 15-year-old student there as "one mistake after another," according to court documents. The documents revealed that the former employee worked at the Labay Middle School and the student used to attend the school as well. view article arw

Teachers Unions File Suit

September 0608:40 AM
 

The Texas American Federation of Teachers and Texas State Teachers Association filed a joint lawsuit against Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath over legislation that they say allows charter networks to grow inside public school districts. The law in question (Senate Bill 1882), was passed during the 2017 legislative session and permits school districts to contract with outside groups to help improve academic performance at struggling schools.  view article arw

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who is in the midst of a heated confirmation hearing, has been clear that he backs school choice, predicting that the Supreme Court would uphold vouchers and working in 2000 to defend a publicly funded state scholarship program that allowed Florida students to attend private and parochial schools. view article arw

A first-grade teacher is suing a Galveston County school district over allegations she was discriminated and retaliated against after taking leave after the death of her son. Rachel Willard filed a complaint on Aug. 13 in the Galveston Division of the Southern District of Texas against Friendswood ISD alleging that the former employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the complaint, the plaintiff was a first-grade teacher at the defendant's Westwood Elementary School and took leave in 2016 after her son's death. She alleges after she returned from leave, the defendant demoted and terminated her. view article arw

A former high school and middle school teacher in Louisiana is accused of sexually abusing a student. Al.com quotes records made public Wednesday as saying 37-year-old Joseph Allan Farmer has been indicted by a grand jury on charges including sex abuse and sodomy. The former Pinson Valley High School and Rudd Middle School teacher was arrested on the allegations in October 2017. view article arw

A group of education advocates has released what it is calling a manifesto, demanding the Austin Independent School District immediately address inequities for schools in East Austin. The group is demanding that the district make the student achievement of minority and low-income students it first priority, compensate and train teachers to work with these populations of students, and address segregation in the district by redrawing boundary lines. view article arw

One of the men charged in a prostitution sting by Texas Department of Public Safety was a former teacher at Socorro Independent School District. Mark Robert Williams, 60, was charged last week for trying to pay a prostitute to engage in sexual conduct. Williams taught history at Socorro High School and had been employed with the district for 20 years, according to district spokesman Daniel Escobar. view article arw

Christian cheerleaders in a small city in east Texas can continue to display Bible verses at football games, the state's highest court has decided, bringing them closer to the end of a years-long battle with their school district. Since the lawsuit was filed six years ago, multiple courts have sided with the cheerleaders at Kountze ISD, ruling they have a First Amendment right to display religious messages at school events. On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court rejected a request by district officials to rethink those rulings, handing the cheerleaders yet another victory that could mark the end of this legal saga. view article arw

Kountze cheerleaders who sued their school district six years ago over religious scripture on spirit banners “won the final battle in Texas” on Friday, their attorneys said, praising the state’s highest court for upholding a ruling that said their signs were private speech. The Supreme Court of Texas declined to review a Beaumont appeals court’s September ruling in favor of the cheerleaders, who sued after they were banned from quoting Bible verses on the paper signs that football players run through to start games. view article arw

Attorney General Ken Paxton today issued the following statement after the Texas Supreme Court decided not to review a lower court’s decision upholding the constitutional right of Kountze cheerleaders to display banners with Bible verses at high school football games. The Kountze Independent School District appealed last year’s ruling by the 9th Court of Appeals that said the Bible verses on banners were not government speech that could be regulated by school officials. view article arw

Teacher unions sue state education commissioner over faulty rules for partnerships between school districts and charter schools  Education Commissioner Mike Morath fails to follow law—and his own rules—meant to protect the rights of teachers and the community view article arw

Texas school districts and charter school groups cannot use state funding to provide teachers and other resources to school-aged children housed in migrant shelters, the Texas Education Agency said, throwing into question whether states have a role in educating minors who cross the border illegally. view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Two teachers unions are suing the Texas Education Agency and its commissioner over the handling of a law that allows school districts to let charter school operators take over struggling public school campuses.  Texas AFT and the Texas State Teachers Association filed the lawsuit Wednesday in state district court in Austin against the TEA and Commissioner Mike Morath.  The lawsuit says Morath "departed from his own agency's rules" in announcing a rule that "limits the safeguards" the Legislature implemented to protect teachers and other employees in such takeovers. view article arw

Justin Porter, previously the education agency's executive director of special populations, will oversee how Texas school districts are serving kids with special needs.  For the first time in nine months, the Texas Education Agency has a special education director, as it continues a massive overhaul of the way it oversees the education for thousands of students with disabilities. Last Friday, Justin Porter, previously the TEA's executive director of special populations, was officially hired as statewide director of special education — allowing him to continue his outsize role in directing how the agency will ensure school districts are serving kids with special needs. A federal investigation this winter concluded that Texas was illegally denying students with disabilities access to the tools and services they need to learn. view article arw

Two teacher associations sued Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath and the Texas Education Agency on Wednesday, arguing they rolled out a law incentivizing partnerships with school districts and charter schools in a way that weakened protections for public school employees. The lawsuit, filed in Travis County District Court, centers on Senate Bill 1882, which lets traditional school districts partner with outside organizations — including charter schools and nonprofit organizations — to turn around low-performing schools and receive a temporary reprieve from harsh state penalties and gain additional state funding. view article arw

David’s Law: One year later

August 3008:15 AM
 

With school back in full swing, keeping students safe on campus and off is top of mind. Keeping them safe when texting or using social media on-campus or off is the goal of David's Law. It is named for David Molak, an Alamo Heights teen that committed suicide after a being cyberbullied. view article arw

Firearms are generally not allowed at the polls while voters are casting ballots in Texas. But with some limited exceptions, presiding election judges who are licensed to carry may bring their guns to polling places, Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a nonbinding opinion Monday residing election judges, who are generally civilians appointed by local party officials to head up a team of poll workers, do everything from settling election disputes to doling out “I Voted” stickers. They’re charged with keeping their polling places calm, and they have “the power of a district judge to enforce order and preserve the peace,” according to Texas election law. view article arw

Many parents are scrambling to buy school supplies, new clothes and uniforms for their children. But, families with children attending private religious schools in Texas have a much more serious thing to worry about. Because of a June 22 Texas Supreme Court decision, parents throughout Texas may have lost the right to sue private schools claiming a religious affiliation — even in cases in which children have been abused. It’s a case that should make parents think seriously about whether to enroll their children in private, religious institutions. view article arw

Cornerstone Christian Schools is no longer a part of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools amid allegations of illegal athletics competition practices. CCS administrators released a letter Tuesday via Facebook that stated the school’s intention to leave TAPPS. The letter written by superintendent Dr. Jerry Eshleman discussed the school’s growth and investments into its facilities, academic excellence, and teaching and coaching staffs. view article arw

A Travis County judge last week ruled approval of Dripping Springs ISD’s $132 million bond was legitimate, giving way for a plethora of new infrastructure improvements to begin in the near future. The ruling ends an organization’s litigation attempt to force a new bond election, claiming voters were disenfranchised. The lawsuit was led by the Citizens for Excellent Education in Dripping Springs (CEEDS), an education activist organization that questioned the legitimacy of the May 5 election. view article arw

Cornerstone Christian School released a statement responding to a controversial Facebook video posted by a family who says their daughter was not admitted into the private institution due to her Muslim beliefs. On Saturday, Imad Khalil posted a video to his Facebook page with his 15-year-old stepdaughter, Pamela, and her mother. In the 6-minute post, which has since been viewed more than 101,000 times and shared 1,400 times, the stepfather and teen recounted her experience of trying to register at the Christian school, which is led by Pastor John Hagee. view article arw