It seems that there may be some miscommunications about how long a district has to schedule a Manifestation Determination Review ARD (MDR) in conjunction with the disciplinary hearing when a special education student has committed a disciplinary infraction which merits a removal. At the majority of districts, administrators conduct the disciplinary hearing first to find whether the student has violated the Student Code of Conduct. Thereafter, the student is usually entitled to appeal the placement, typically pursuant to policy FNG (LOCAL), all the way to the Board of Trustees. In addition, if a student is a special education student, a MDR must be held within ten school-days of any decision to change the placement because of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

About a month ago, many parts of our state were devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Since that time, my staff and I have been working hard to ensure that those in Senate District 3 are receiving the help and services they need. If you require assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact any of my offices. You can also visit disasterassistance.gov or call (800) 621-3362 to check your eligibility, register for assistance and check your application status. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who survived the disaster and those who continue to be affected. view article arw

All school district staff should be aware that records they create and maintain are subject to records retention requirements. The district’s responsibilities are based on schedules developed by the Texas State Library Archives Commission (“TSLAC”), which are published in Title 13 of the Texas Administrative Code. These schedules are also referenced in board policies at CPC (LEGAL).

Senate Bill 1566 takes effect September 1, and it is a whopper of a bill. It is what is known as a “Christmas Tree Bill,” because it has something under it for everyone. It permits trustees to sue school districts over records requests, new localized websites from TEA, a public shaming rule for trustees that requires announcing their training hours before each election, new lice rules, and my favorite, the Patriotic Society provisions.

When a verbal or physical altercation is recorded on the school surveillance system, it can seem easier to determine which movie won the Oscar for 2017’s Best Picture than to figure out who gets to see the video, who gets a copy of it, and whose faces need to be blurred. Below we will open the big red envelope that we have double-checked is labeled “FERPA” to get our answer.

Want to raise money for your school? Just hold a raffle, right? Not so fast. In Texas, “lotteries and gift enterprises” (including raffles) are prohibited unless expressly authorized by the Texas Constitution.[1] Even if a raffle is authorized under the Texas Constitution, it must be conducted in strict accordance with the Charitable Raffle Enabling Act.[2]

In just one week Superintendents and School Boards will hold their collective breath in anticipation of the results of their bond elections. Will it be the result they dreaded? Or will the measure fail? That’s just a joke. Yes, of course, Superintendents and School Boards prefer the win to the loss, but if there were any game where the prize was the chance to make a 70 million dollar high school fit in a fifty million dollar budget and double your workload it would probably be named “What did I do?”

Should a district form a police department? As with all things legal, the answer is “it depends.” Some districts are located in an area where local law enforcement is 15 to 20 minutes away or longer. For an active shooter, that’s a long time to wait before help comes. Other districts may have contracted with the local police or sheriff’s department, but because of more demand for their services the schools don’t believe that they are getting enough protections from the officers. So for whatever reason, if your district would like to start a police department, this article will outline the various steps involved.Should a district form a police department?

Teachers and other public school staff are turning to a variety of companies and non-profits to help fund classroom projects or resources through social media “crowdfunding.”  Crowdfunding, or the practice of raising money by asking individuals or groups to support a project or cause because federal, state or local monies are lacking has no shortage of websites and services happy to help with this (almost always) noble cause.  Concerns arise, however, over how monies raised or other assets given to your district will be accounted for, as well as the ways in which staff utilize the crowdfunding tools generally.

Providing special education services becomes increasing complex every year. There is simply no way that educators can remember every single law or rule in every single ARD meeting, especially considering the wide variety of students that are served under the special education umbrella of service. This is why there is a healthy business in providing software to school districts to help meet these requirements. These software products both document your decisions in ARD meetings and help a district stay in compliance with special education requirements. Failure to keep appropriate records can be costly to a district should a parent file a TEA complaint or due process hearing, and maintaining legal compliance is a requirement under both state and federal law. Purchasing a software system that meets your district’s needs can be invaluable to help a district stay in compliance.

If you were to ask Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, or Mark Zuckerberg’s Jarvis (aka Morgan Freeman) what legal issues often arise with the use of personal work phones, they would hopefully answer, “Public information requests, records retention, and security concerns.” If by chance 2017 technology has yet to discover the rugged frontier of education law, read on for a short synopsis of the common pitfalls of personal work phones.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) recently amended the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 11431, to address the educational effects of homelessness. ESSA alters the definition of homeless, commissions new methods of identifying homeless students, attempts to keep students in their original school district as long as possible, and creates many additional notice, privacy, and referral obligations for districts. As before, McKinney-Vento services are provided through the state’s local education agencies (called LEAs in the law, but Texas calls them “districts’ or “charters”) and coordinated by the locally appointed liaison.

Do you know whether you are a reimbursing employer for purposes of the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act (TUCA)? It pays to know the difference in light of some changes in the law enacted during the last session.