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Texas DPS officers told not to arrest in low-level marijuana cases after new hemp law BY JOLIE MCCULLOUGH
A memo obtained by The Texas Tribune instructs DPS officers to cite and release suspects in misdemeanor marijuana cases "as appropriate." Officials said the goal is to continue enforcement even though some prosecutors aren't taking new pot cases. Texas’ largest law enforcement agency is moving away from arresting people for low-level marijuana offenses. It’s the latest development in the chaos that has surrounded pot prosecution after state lawmakers legalized hemp this year. view article
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.
Months before Texas district attorneys started dropping or delaying low-level marijuana cases, state lawmakers were told that a well-liked bill to legalize hempwas going to complicate pot prosecutions. The warnings fell flat. In early April, members of the Texas House Agriculture and Livestock Committee sat through two hours of testimony supporting a bill to legalize and regulate hemp and its derivatives, like CBD oil. Most of the discussion focused on farming and regulatory procedures. Near the end of the hearing, though, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s crime lab director, Brady Mills, was brought up to the microphone to address any law enforcement concerns the legislators may have overlooked. view article
Parents and staff with the Greenville Independent School District received a letter from Superintendent Demetrus Liggins Monday afternoon, explaining what action the district intends to take in response to a lawsuit filed by two parents against the district about a month ago. In the complaint, the parents alleged that some members of GISD staff had “failed to protect their child from repeated sexual abuse by another student.” view article
A hearing has been set in the appeal case of Georgia N. Clark, the Carter-Riverside teacher whose Twitter posts against immigrant students sparked a backlash and prompted the Fort Worth school board to recommend that she be fired. view article
An Ector County ISD Board of Trustees closed session on the proposed non-renewal of a contract for former longtime principal Linda Voss was canceled to allow the parties to explore a possible settlement, Mike Atkins, the attorney for the school district, said in an email. Her attorney representing her on the education side is Nick Enoch. He could not be reached for comment Friday. view article
The Edcouch-Elsa school district Wednesday addressed the auction of computers with sensitive information, anticipating action such as reprimanding and possibly terminating those involved in the sale. Computers with sensitive information, including social security numbers, addresses, vaccination records and other personal data, were sold at the April 6 auction. view article
The Copperas Cove Independent School District is warning others of a group asking businesses to sponsor fake booster club shirts. view article
Roughly 9 million children — nearly 1 in 5 public school students in the U.S. — attend schools that are racially isolated and receive far less money than schools just a few miles away. That's according to a sweeping new review of the nation's most divisive school district borders from EdBuild, a nonprofit that investigates school funding inequities. "Inequality is endemic" in America's public schools, the report says, identifying nearly 1,000 school district borders where schools on one side receive at least 10% less money per student than schools on the other side and where the racial makeup of the two sides' students varies by 25 percentage points or more. It is the story of segregation, in 2019. view article
Robert Leonard, the businessman at the center of the Dallas County Schools scandal has reported to federal prison. Federal Bureau of Prisons records show Leonard is now in custody at the Federal Correctional Institution at Oakdale, Lousisiana. view article
Texas won’t be placed back under federal supervision for redistricting despite findings of intentional discrimination
After a yearslong fight over Texas’ political maps, a panel of federal judges on Wednesday denied the requests of voters of color, civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers to put Texas back under federal supervision of its redistricting. Although they noted "grave concerns" about Texas' past conduct, the judges who have overseen the long-winding case against the state ruled that the drastic intervention was not warranted despite previously ruling that state lawmakers discriminated against voters of color when they first drew up new maps in 2011. view article
A federal judge here sentenced two more defendants involved in several “rips” of other drug traffickers during home invasions and carjackings, according to a news release issued Tuesday from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez on Tuesday sentenced Mission residents Miguel Marin Cerda, 31, and Alfredo Avalos-Sanchez, 27, to 130 months and 87 months in federal prison, respectively, for their roles in a March 2017 carjacking and a home invasion in June of that year, according to records. view article
The Latest on Gavin Grimm's federal challenge of his former high school's transgender bathroom policy (all times local): Attorneys have finished arguments in federal court over whether a Virginia school board's bathroom policy discriminates against transgender students. view article
Preventive Law: What Are the Odds? A Statistical Look at TEA Appointed Independent Hearing Examiners and Their Decisions
Nonrenewal “season” ended last month. That is the season that poorer performing employees are asked if they prefer to resign or be proposed for nonrenewal, and when probationary contract teachers are given a similar option, whether to resign or be terminated effective the end of the school year. Invariably most employees prefer not to have a termination or proposal for nonrenewal on their records and choose to resign.
Preventive Law: Competitive Bidding - “The most likely procedure for selecting the least able or qualified and the most incompetent practitioner….”
Not my words, but also not wrong words. This is an article about hiring design professionals—not about competitive bidding. In fact, as indicated by the title it is about some of the legal and practical reasons that Competitive Bidding for design professionals is almost universally shunned in the United States. Astronaut John Glenn once joked about how he felt before his 1962 trip aboard Friendship 7:
Texas is in the middle of the biggest measles outbreak in years. Across the nation, the 2019 outbreak is the largest (more than 681 reported cases, including at least 10 in Texas) in the United States since the year 2000, when the disease was declared eliminated. Other infectious diseases that were considered rare, such as whooping cough, are also on the rise.
This Spring, several districts across the country have received letters from the OCR concerning their Civil Rights Data Collection (“CRDC”). The CRDC is a data collection conducted every other year, and per Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ January 2019 announcement is part of “a new initiative to address the inappropriate use of restraint and seclusion in order to protect children with disabilities.” A critical component to the initiative requires data quality reviews of 2015-2016 data submissions regarding instances of restraint or seclusion.
In February, the Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) of the U.S. Department of Education issued new guidance concerning School Resource Officers (SROs), School Law Enforcement Units, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The guidance answers some of the ongoing questions that districts have wrestled with as they try to balance the need to share information with law enforcement with FERPA’s confidentiality provisions.
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
Preventive Law: Does That Complete Your Order? Interpreting and Complying with Court Orders Involving Parent-Child Relationships
What do you do when a parent drives to your school on a Friday at 2:45 p.m. waving ‘custody papers’ in the air and demands that the school immediately withdraw her child or prevent the other parent from picking the child up from school? Take a deep breath and convince yourself that this person did not do this just to ruin your weekend. Then, explain that you will need to review the document to make sure the school complies with it and make a copy for the school’s records. When you review ‘custody’ documents, here are some steps you can use to help you interpret them and navigate through the legalese.
Texas Education Code § 34.007 allows (but does not require) a district to operate “an economical public school transportation system.” That same section requires that all bus drivers must be certified in accordance with Texas Department of Public Safety rules. Employees who drive regular bus routes must be certified by the DPS or be currently enrolled in an approved school bus safety education course. Tex. Transp. Code § 521.022(e). Because some employees who are not regular bus route drivers, especially extra-curricular coaches, must sometimes transport students, it is important to know if they must also hold school bus driver certification. The answer to the question is found by a combination of the Texas Transportation Code and the Texas Administrative Code.
We all know the importance of keeping employee information in a secure location, but did you know that you have the same responsibility to protect employee data electronically? In a recent case from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Dittman v. UPMC, the court found an employer has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to safeguard its employees' sensitive personal information stored by the employer on an internet-accessible computer system. The employees alleged that a data breach had occurred through which personal and financial information, including names, birth dates, social security numbers, addresses, tax forms, and bank account information of all 62,000 current and former employees was accessed and stolen from company computer systems. The employees further alleged that the stolen data, which consisted of information the company required the employees to provide as a condition of their employment, was used to file fraudulent tax returns on behalf of the victimized employees, resulting in actual damages. The court agreed with the employees and found that the company was negligent in protecting employee data.
Preventive Law: Serving Parentally-Placed Private School Students with Disabilities in Public Schools
It is sometimes unclear what a public school district’s duty is when it comes to serving children with disabilities placed by their parents in private schools. Further complicating matters is the fact that sometimes a private school student requesting services can reside in the boundaries of one district and attend a private school in the boundaries of another district. What follows is a simplified list of steps to follow, and an explanation of each step, when evaluating a district’s responsibility to a private school student.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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