A former Pharr-San Juan-Alamo high school teacher is out on bond. He’s facing charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a student. Officials say 31-year-old Eric Javier Garza was arrested by the Mission Police Department and charged with improper relationship between educator and student, a second-degree felony. Garza taught at PSJA Thomas Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School in Pharr, where the student was enrolled. view article arw

The Jasper Independent School District Board of Trustees has voted to approve the hiring of two law firms to replace the outgoing attorney, Tanner Hunt, who has recently retired.  According to Superintendent John Seybold, the district has hired the firms of Sara Leon & Associates, LLC, with offices in Houston, Austin, and Corpus Christi, and also the Haglund Law Firm, P.C., located in Lufkin.  Tanner Hunt, a longtime Beaumont lawyer, had served as the school district’s attorney for many years. view article arw

Former Amarillo Mayor Jerry Hodge and CEO of the Fairly Group Alex Fairly have filed a lawsuit against the Amarillo Independent School District claiming the district violated the Texas Education Code when selecting medical benefits providers. view article arw

To Rhea Shahane, a first-year law student at the University of Texas, and Isabella Fanucci, a graduating senior at UT, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ new Title IX ruling, issued Wednesday, felt like a slap in the face.  DeVos’ changes to Title IX, a 1972 law barring discrimination based on sex within education, has changed the way colleges are required to investigate sexual misconduct while bolstering the rights of those accused. view article arw

We get questions at this time of year regarding music at graduation. The first most common question is “Can the school use Pomp and Circumstance as the entry/exit music?” The question arises because the school has been cautious about using music that is protected by copyright. The person who owns the copyright in a musical work owns the right to determine if the work 0may be performed publicly, though this right is not absolute and is tempered by the doctrine of “fair use.”

Emmett J. Conrad High School teacher Robert Marc Flores has been arrested and charged with sexual assault of a child, improper relationship between educator and student and online solicitation of a minor. Garland Police said officers executed a search and arrest on Tuesday, May 5 at Flores’ home. view article arw

Eichelbaum Wardell Hansen Powell & Muñoz, P.C. Client Alert read more arw

A state representative who asked the state to investigate the City of Mont Belvieu and Barbers Hill ISD over encouraging people to use mail-in ballots instead of in-person voting for the May 2 election  says Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton backs him up.  Barbers Hill and the City of Mont Belvieu leaders strongly disagree and vowed to proceed with elections and encouraging voters who do not want to vote in person because of the coronavirus to apply for and use mail-in ballots.  “We will be upholding democracy on May 2 in a joint election with Barbers Hill ISD giving all eligible voters the right for their voices to be heard,” said Mont Belvieu City Manager Nathan Watkins. view article arw

WASHINGTON — Just as a Texas judged opened the door to more voting by mail amid the coronavirus outbreak, the state’s attorney general is trying to slam it shut.  Voters cannot cast ballots by mail just because they are afraid of getting the coronavirus at polling places, Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Wednesday, even as a state district judge in Austin said he will rule that voters can vote by mail if they believe doing so in person puts their health at risk.  The judge’s apparent decision was an early victory for the Texas Democratic Party and a slew of civil rights and voter advocacy groups seeking to expand voting by mail in Texas, but it will almost certainly be appealed and Paxton’s pronouncement makes it clear the state has no plans to open up 2020 elections to more voting by mail. view article arw

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the AP exams will be taken by students at home for the first time.  "It is unprecedented and it is unusual," CCISD's Director of Advanced Academics Kimberly Story said.  Students will be taking their exams at home and it will not be the only change made to the tests this year.  The tests have been shortened to just 45 minutes as opposed to previous hours-long examination. And there will be no more multiple choice questions. The entire exam will be free-response. view article arw

An ex-Abilene ISD teacher's aide was arrested for the alleged mistreatment of a special needs student. Danny Sirven Jay, 54, turned himself in at the Taylor County Jail on Tuesday. A warrant for his arrest was issued March 12. He's charged with assault against elderly or disabled individual. view article arw

Officers with the Hudson ISD Police Department arrested a former math teacher for the school district on Monday in connection to allegations that he had an improper relationship with a high school student that included sexual contact. view article arw

On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) officially filed a grievance against the Wimberley Independent School District, according to our partners at the Austin-American Statesman. The grievance is the result of an email Superintendent Dwain York sent to some parents in December 2019 regarding the altering of the district's logo to include the colors of the gay pride flag, according to the Statesman. view article arw

In the last year, the Texas Legislature and court system made several important changes to how school districts must manage their school resource officers. Furthermore, these changes also impact and limit the way school resource officers may engage with students with disabilities.

On September 1, 2019, Texas House Bill 2840 relating to the public’s ability to address open meetings of Texas governmental bodies, including public school districts, went into effect as codified at Section 551.007 of the Texas Government Code. The Bill is intended to provide the public with additional input into decisions made by school districts and other governmental bodies, but has also created considerable confusion as to what is required under the law, what is permissible, and what school districts can do to balance the interests of the public against the district’s interest in effective government and protection of employee and faculty rights.

Texas Senate Bill 944, which went into effect on September 1, 2019, amends Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code (the Code) by clarifying the requirements for preservation and production of public information on the personal electronic devices of governmental officers and employees. The question is whether and to what extent the law has actually been changed. While the primary tenet embodied by Senate Bill 944—the requirement to preserve public information and foster governmental transparency—has not been significantly altered, the real-world processes for both school district employees and the district itself have undergone a meaningful change.

Whenever rumors of sexual harassment start to circulate, open records requests are sure to follow. The best way to control the narrative is to always create an adequate summary of any sexual harassment investigation as soon as the investigation is concluded.

A former student has filed a lawsuit against Dallas ISD after he lost his status as his high school’s salutatorian a day before graduation due to a last minute change in rankings. In June, the district apologized after class rankings at Woodrow Wilson High School were changed right before graduation because of a calculation error. Now a former student is suing Dallas ISD, claiming that the change will affect his applications to universities and employers. view article arw

Preventive Law: Vexing Sexting

August 0108:31 AM
 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently ordered Facebook to pay $5 billion in fines due to violating the privacy rights of its users, but the FTC is not the only entity dealing with digital criminal activity. As the phenomenon of teen sexting continues to grow, school districts must be ready to address the fallout when it enters the schoolhouse.

Terry Burchett, 69, was arrested in South Carolina on February 18 on charges of child pornography. He was found to be in possession of over 9,800 sexually explicit images of children according to the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. view article arw

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Irving ISD and the city of Irving by Ahmed Mohamed's family, according to Dallas Morning News. Ahmed made headlines when he was 14 years old and made a clock in school that was mistaken for a bomb in 2015. His family stated that his civil rights were violated when he was arrested at MacArthur High School and charged with making a "hoax bomb." The charge was later dropped, but he was still suspended. view article arw

A Lockhart High School science teacher has been arrested for having an improper relationship with a 17-year-old male student. Sarah Fowlkes started at the district in October 2014. On March 10, 2017 a school administrator reached out to Lockhart Police after receiving a "concerning report." LPD launched an investigation and determined Fowlkes was engaged in sexual contact with the student. view article arw

The plaintiffs continued building their case Tuesday in the instance of a student at Lewisville ISD who is suing the school for Title IX violations. The girl was 14 years old when she said she went to a high school party and got sexually assaulted by two high school football players at Hebron, a school in the Lewisville district. view article arw

When Deron Harrington filed a lawsuit on behalf of three parents in May 2015, he was trying to make sure the district where his kids attended school was following student truancy laws. He had a hunch that wasn't the case. At the time, Fort Bend ISD was making headlines for referring thousands of students to the county's specialized truancy court. Data showed a disproportionate number of the district's students referred to truancy court were African-American. As a lawyer, Harrington thought he could make a difference. view article arw

On March 11, 2016, the Texas Education Agency Commissioner of Education, Mike Morath, requested an opinion from the Texas Attorney General on the implementation of SB 507. This new law requires video surveillance of certain special education settings upon request beginning in the 2016-2017 school year. In an earlier blog post, I outlined the provisions of SB 507. view article arw

More than two months after a tornado hit Shields Elementary School in northern Ellis County on Dec. 26, Red Oak ISD confirmed Thursday that the original builder of the school, Ratcliff Constructors, has agreed to pay for the repairs. Fox 4's Lori Brown began investigating concerns about the quality of construction at the school  in Glenn Heights after an exterior wall collapsed in the tornado. view article arw

When Gene and Shirene McIntyre met with an attendance officer in the El Paso Independent School District in November 2006, their nine grandchildren had already been homeschooled for more than a year. But they were concerned the kids weren’t getting a proper education. view article arw

Harrison County District Attorney Coke Solomon says there is a criminal investigation involving a Hallsville High School coach on administrative leave who recently resigned. Solomon said his office forwarded a request for information about Dean McDaniel to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office for an opinion on whether to withhold the information because he believes releasing it could interfere with the investigation. view article arw

The Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD (C-FB ISD) Board of Trustees on Thursday  approved a settlement agreement with Guillermo Ramos and Brewer Storefront in relation to a voting rights lawsuit. The board approved the settlement agreement by a 5-2 vote. Board members Frank Shor, Nancy Watten, Nancy Cline, James Goode and John Mathews vote in approval. view article arw

For nearly 15 years, the Arlington Independent School District has been searching for the right project to fill a piece of land it owns in the 3200 block of Pioneer Parkway. When voters approved a bond package in 2014, officials said they finally found a good one. "We want to make this a successful district facility that serves both the community and the students well," said Leslie Johnston, spokesperson for Arlington ISD. view article arw

Two gunmen were killed Sunday night in Garland after opening fire on a security officer outside a provocative contest for cartoon depictions of Prophet Muhammad, and a bomb squad was called in to search their vehicle as a precaution, authorities said. Police were using robotic detection equipment to search the vehicle. No device has been found so far. view article arw

On April 6, 2015, the Shallowater ISD administration was informed by the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Department that it had completed its investigation into an incident that occurred between an employee of the district and a student during an athletic period on March 31, 2015, and that it was closing the matter without recommending any further action by law enforcement.  view article arw

The Waco Independent School District board of trustees is in discussions with Bartlett Cocke General Contracts over leaking pipes causing damage under University High School’s gymnasium showers. The board has met in closed sessions several times since October to determine whether Bartlett or a plumbing subcontractor, MJ Mechanical Inc., is responsible for the problems. view article arw

A teenager says a substitute teacher with the  Conroe Independent School District groped her in class. The alleged victim's mother tells Local 2 she wants the school to take a tougher stance. The family says there may be more victims out there who are afraid to come forward and that's why they want Oak Ridge High School to notify other parents about what happened to the girl. view article arw

Allen ISD school  board members received a progress report Monday night on the Eagle Stadium repairs. More brick has been added to the scoreboard to create a staircase-like structural support  system. Inside the stadium, crews are breaking out the bricks to allow for the installation  of horizontal steel beams.  Cracks in the concourse were first spotted shortly after the stadium opened in August of 2012. view article arw