A federal judge's ruling temporarily reinstating the practice of one-punch voting has been put on a temporary hold as judges on the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals weigh the issue.  A federal appeals court on Monday put a temporary hold on a lower court’s ruling last week that reinstated the practice of straight-ticket voting, again casting into uncertainty whether Texas voters will have the option in the Nov. 3 election to vote for every candidate of a political party with one punch. A final ruling is expected after the court weighs the arguments more thoroughly. Straight-ticket voting was set to end this year in Texas, bringing the state in line with much of the rest of the country, under a law passed in 2017 by the Legislature. But on Friday, a federal judge ordered the state to reinstate the practice, writing that one-punch voting would speed up the voting process and decrease the time that in-person voters would be at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.  Early voting is set to start Oct. 13, leaving election administrators little time to make major changes to voting procedures.    (29) view article arw

No, not John Bolton’s book. Ambassador Bolton’s book title comes from the song from the musical Hamilton. “The Room Where it Happens,” tells the story of the secret meeting between Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and John Madison, that led to Washington DC becoming our nation’s capital in exchange for a federal financial system designed by Alexander Hamilton, our nation’s first Treasury Secretary. Yes, I admit that I am a history junkie and a Hamilton groupie: I love the musical and actually have visited Hamilton’s home (Hamilton Grange) in New York City, his grave (Trinity Church Cemetery), Weehawken (the duel location), and even visited Aaron Burr’s grave (Princeton, NJ).

On August 14, 2020, the Texas Court of Appeals, Third District (Austin), affirmed a lower court ruling that had granted Killeen Independent School District’s plea that the a former District teacher’s breach of contract claim be dismissed on the basis of governmental immunity. The teacher had sued Killeen ISD on the theory that the District breached a non-disclosure clause included in a 2016 settlement and resignation agreement between the teacher and the District, after another school district withdrew its offer of employment to the teacher upon learning of allegations against teacher (“of viewing inappropriate materials”) while he was employed by Killeen ISD. view article arw

A federal appeals court on Monday put a temporary hold on a lower court’s ruling last week that reinstated the practice of straight-ticket voting, again casting into uncertainty whether Texas voters will have the option in the Nov. 3 election to vote for every candidate of a political party with one punch. A final ruling is expected after the court weighs the arguments more thoroughly.  Early voting is set to start Oct. 13, leaving election administrators little time to make major changes to voting procedures. view article arw

A Rio Grande Valley school district is requiring all its staff to return to work on campus this week. A petition filed by teacher union Texas AFT on behalf of staff at South Texas Independent School District is asking the district’s board members to consider teachers in their next transitioning phase. view article arw

CBSDFW.COM/CNN) — A Texas teacher was fired for continuing to wear a Black Lives Matter face mask after school officials asked her to stop.  Lillian White, an art teacher at Great Hearts Western Hills, a public charter school in San Antonio, began wearing a face mask that read “Black Lives Matter” and “Silence is Violence” after the charter school reopened in the summer for in-person workdays amid the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, students were not on campus. view article arw

On May 4, 2020, the Department of Education (“DOE”) issued new Title IX regulations, which direct how educational institutions receiving federal funds must address reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault involving both students and employees. view article arw

On September 4, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a Questions & Answers guidance relating to the new Title IX regulations, which went into effect on August 14, 2020. Below are highlights from the Q&A guidance document: read more arw

As the Miami-Dade County school board considering awarding a multi-million dollar contract to the for-profit K12 Inc. to supply remote learning to all its students, the virtual learning company made a very very generous contribution to a nonprofit chaired by Miami’s superintendent of schools.  The matter is being investigated.  K12 delivered subpar services, and the board nixed the contract. view article arw

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District superintendent is submitting a waiver to the Texas Education Agency that would potentially extend online learning for another four weeks.  Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Elizalde said the waiver in no way allows the district to keep virtual learning in place for everyone.  This comes after a labor union for AISD teachers, Education Austin, called on Elizalde to apply for the waiver that would grant an additional four weeks of online instruction.    (17) view article arw

At SL&A, we offer a full array of legal services for our school law clients throughout Texas. We strive to deliver a high-level of client service through teamwork, calling upon our attorneys’ decades of public and private experience to provide practical solutions and advice for all school needs. view article arw

A former Petersburg ISD agriculture teacher pleaded guilty on Tuesday and admitted to harassing a 16-year-old student through repeated text messages, according to court documents. William Duffin Galloway, 45, was the agriculture teacher at Petersburg High School in September 2019 when the school discovered and reported inappropriate communications on Galloway’s cellphone to one of his students. According to court documents, Galloway had the student’s cellphone number and would text message them about school-related activities. view article arw

The Texas State Teachers Association today filed a grievance with Killeen ISD on behalf of its affiliate, the Killeen Educators Association, "whose teacher and paraprofessional members have been forced to work in unsafe conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic." view article arw

National protests called for the examination of practices within police departments to identify signs of racial inequality across the United States following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. This movement had local officials, including the Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees, asking similar questions. In June, trustees John Ogletree, Julie Hinaman and Gilbert Sarabia were tasked with writing a resolution condemning racism, which was signed when trustees convened at the Sept. 14 meeting. view article arw

Powell, Youngblood & Taylor’s Special Education Practice Group Leader, Geneva Taylor was invited to speak on NBC affiliate KPRC Channel 2 Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall about the COVID-19 special education class action lawsuits, J.T., ET. AL. V. BILL DE BLASIO, ET. AL We do not own the rights to this video. SHOW MORE view article arw

In response to inquiries and as a service to our client during this challenging academic year, Sara Leon & Associates, LLC, created a series of forms and letters that may be useful in responding to various contingencies. view article arw

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The Washoe County School Board has agreed to pay a former superintendent up to $70,000 for a year of payment into her state retirement after she was fired.  The board voted 5-1 to settle with ousted Superintendent Traci Davis after she filed a wrongful termination lawsuit claiming she was entitled to a year's salary plus damages following her firing. view article arw

A Midland resident has filed a lawsuit against the Midland Independent School District over the decision to change the name of Lee High School. The lawsuit requests several things, including that a physical copy of the petition the board cited asking for the name change be produced. view article arw

The parents of a Denison I-S-D student said a school resource officer and teacher left their child with bruises after an incident last year. In a lawsuit filed in Federal court, the family said their special needs student was dragged to the principal’s office after having a discipline issue in class.  view article arw

On August 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued version 4.0 of its Guidance on the Essential Critical Workforce. This most recent update clearly identifies teachers, teacher aides, paraprofessionals, and specialists as essential workers. It also applies to, among others, those who support the education of K-12 students, which presumably includes administrators as well as operational staff. view article arw

Educators have many questions about how and when to address issues related to special education services provided during school closures that occurred during the 2019-2020 school year. Guidance from TEA and from OSEP indicates compensatory services are owed in circumstances where services differed in substance from what was called for in the IEPs drafted for a typical school year. How, then, should school districts address the question of compensatory services during the 2020-2021 school-year, which promises to be anything but typical? view article arw

The beleaguered DeSoto Independent School District is being taken over by a state-appointed conservator amid new questions about who will be sitting in the superintendent's seat. The Texas Education Agency sent a letter Wednesday to DeSoto ISD Board President Karen Daniel and acting Superintendent Don Hooper that AJ Crabill had been named conservator to oversee the troubled district. (See the letter at the bottom of this page.) view article arw

For the second time since the beginning of this school year, someone tagged Carroll ISD school buildings with spray paint — this time at Carroll High School and Durham Intermediate School. “To be clear, this crime is classified as a state jail felony offense due to the extent of the graffiti,” the Southlake Police Department said in a news release Thursday night. “The Southlake Police Department takes the investigation of these crimes very seriously. We are currently working with our law enforcement partner agencies to identify, locate and hold accountable the individual responsible for these acts.” view article arw

The Austin school district is seeking to withhold documents requested under the Texas Public Information Act related to its latest superintendent search. The move comes more than a decade after the Texas attorney general’s office and the courts ruled the district must release similar documents related to a previous superintendent search.  The school district on Friday released some materials related to the request, including the contract with the search firm and candidate interview questions, but is withholding other documents about the search process that led to the hiring of Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde.  The American-Statesman filed the open records request on July 29 for records pertaining to the superintendent search. The school district submitted the request for an opinion from the attorney general’s office on Friday.  The school board’s law firm, Walsh Gallegos Treviño Russo & Kyle PC, in its letter to the attorney general’s office lists 33 exemptions as reasons to withhold the documents. Among them is that the documents contain information that would reveal “trade secrets,” one of the arguments made when the district waged a legal battle in 2009 to keep the superintendent documents confidential. view article arw

A Donna parent created a petition seeking the resignation of a Donna Independent School District principal on Tuesday after seeing video she says shows the principal dragging a special needs student when she worked at a previous district. view article arw

A former Whitehouse ISD equipment manager that is accused of molesting a football player and an elementary student back in 2011 has had his case delayed one month after a hearing on Wednesday. William Aldridge, 28, is accused by a former Whitehouse high school football player of touching his private parts on two separate occasions. Head defense attorney Brett Harrison filed the motion for a continuance which the prosecution did not object to. view article arw

MONT BELVIEU, Texas (KTRK) -- The ACLU of Texas sent a letter to hundreds of school districts across the state demanding them to "reexamine dress and grooming code policies that are unconstitutional and discriminatory," according to the group.  The move comes weeks after a judge ruled the hair policy at a school district in Mont Belvieu is discriminatory to two Black students who were suspended earlier in the year over the length of their dreadlocks.  The decision came from a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.    (03) view article arw

BROWNSVILLE — Attorneys representing a former Santa Rosa High School student in a civil lawsuit filed against the Santa Rosa Independent School District, current and former officials, and two former teachers accused of engaging in sexual relationships with the student and her friend appeared in federal court in Brownsville on Tuesday. view article arw

Bastrop ISD placed one of their teachers on administrative leave Wednesday after the district became aware of controversial posts he had made on social media. According to his Facebook profile, Kevin Kinard is math teacher at a Bastrop ISD high school. view article arw

A district judge has ruled in favor of Lewisville ISD in a lawsuit claiming the district’s at-large voting system is unconstitutional. Judge Sean D. Jordan, of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, dismissed claims made by Brewer Storefront, on behalf of Lewisville resident Frank Vaughan, for lack of jurisdiction, saying Vaughan does not have standing in part because he did not demonstrate the district’s at-large system impacted him specifically. view article arw

After three days of consideration, a judge ruled Monday night that the Barbers Hill Independent School District’s dress code is discriminatory after two Black students were suspended over the length of their dreadlocks. A U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of Texas made the ruling Monday night. According to court records, “The Court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion over the three days spanning July 22, 2020, through July 24, 2020. After careful consideration of the parties’ written submissions, the extensive evidentiary record developed at the hearing, and the other filings in the case, K.B.‘s motion is granted.”   (19) view article arw

A federal judge has prevented a Houston-area school district from enforcing a dress code policy that states that male students must keep their hair ear-length or shorter. Earlier this year, that policy spurred national attention and outrage after it was used to punish two students who wore their hair in dreadlocks.  The decision from the U.S. District Court in Houston overturns the grooming policy from the Barbers Hill School District. Earlier this summer, despite criticism from advocates who described the restriction as racist, the Barbers Hill board of trustees voted to keep the policy.   (20) view article arw

The lawyers at Dallas-based law firm Brewer Storefront say the at-large system discriminates against minority communities and violates the Voting Rights Act.  A Dallas law firm that’s been slowly trying to change how suburban voters elect their school boards has been hit with two big losses in recent weeks.  First, a judge dismissed a case against Lewisville ISD to let the district’s at-large voting system stand. Then, Frisco ISD won a suit challenging its electoral procedure.  At question in both suits, and many others like it filed by lawyers at Brewer Storefront in recent years, are the districts’ use of an at-large system by which all voters select the same board spots, rather than a geographically based system in which voters cast ballots only for a representative in their district neighborhood.   (18) view article arw

DESOTO, Texas — The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has released the final report of findings and recommendations for sanctions resulting from an investigation of the DeSoto Independent School District’s (DISD) handling of funds.  DISD is facing a multi-million-dollar deficit and received an “F” substandard financial accountability rating, which TEA says warrants and intervention.   (17) view article arw