By August 14, 2020, school districts must implement OCR’s new Title IX regulations, which create novel roles for school personnel. Districts need to decide now who will be assigned to each role and ensure they are trained before school starts.

The City of San Antonio held a virtual town hall Wednesday evening to discuss reopening schools with Bexar County Health Authority Dr. Junda Woo and other members of San Antonio Metro Health’s school reopening committee, including Northside Superintendent Brian Woods and San Antonio ISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez. view article arw

RICHARDSON, Texas - Richardson ISD is getting ready for the first day of school by welcoming 300 new teachers this year. The district is set to start school Aug. 19 with three weeks of virtual instruction and transition to in-person classes after Labor Day. Some teachers just graduated this year and finished out their degrees online because of the pandemic. So many of them are already used to online learning. They’re hoping to use those skills to welcome students back to the classroom this fall. view article arw

ABILENE, Texas — High school football games at Shotwell Stadium this fall, like most everything else in 2020, will look different.

Petersburg Independent School District received a $102,638 Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) grant from the Texas Workforce Commission. Superintendent Brian Bibb said the funds will be used to purchase equipment for the district’s welding program. view article arw

With $200 million from the state and the same amount matched by Texas’ school districts, an initiative plans to provide needy students with computers and internet service for online learning before the school year begins.  Dubbed Operation Connectivity, the plan aims to provide 1 million laptops, along with Apple iPads and 480,000 internet WiFi hotspots from all three of the major cellular providers, with the state handling the purchasing and local school districts sharing the costs.  The logistics were put together by the Region 4 Education Service Center, Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office and Gabriella Rowe, the former director of the Ion, the centerpiece of the city’s drive to build a robust technology and startup community. view article arw

We are near the end of July, and COVID-19 still is spreading uncontrollably in the Houston area. The public is bombarded daily with a slew of metrics: new cases, positivity rates, hospitalizations, deaths. What do they all mean? Local government reporters Zach Despart and Mike Morris review this public data every day. We asked them to help you understand how to make sense of it all, starting with the question on everyone's mind: How bad is the situation now? view article arw

At each stage of his career, Dr. Heath Morrison has been described as "a teacher on special assignment." Dr. Morrison began as a social studies teacher in Virginia and Maryland and quickly moved into administration. After serving as principal at the middle school and high school levels, Dr. Morrison was selected as Maryland Principal of the Year in 2004. He went on to serve as a Community Superintendent in Montgomery County, Maryland, before being selected to serve as Superintendent of Washoe County School District in Reno, Nevada. He has most recently served as Superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2011, Dr. Morrison was named Nevada Superintendent of the Year, and in 2012, he became AASA's National Superintendent of the Year. view article arw

Does it seem to anyone else that the laws regarding transmissible disease and illness only came into existence after COVID-19 arrived to dominate our daily lives? Each week we wait breathlessly for a new direction (or some direction) as to how to respond when our students and employees are confronted with the prospect of walking into the school. At no time in modern history has this yearly ritual been the object of such dread. While children may still worry over whether their new clothes will pass muster, parents have to decide if they can afford to keep their children home. A parent who cannot keep their child at home sends them to you in hopes that you will protect them from being infected by “other students.”

The Round Rock school district is spending $1.7-million of its new budget on a dedicated police department.  Amid the call from activists to defund police departments, the Round Rock school district’s new budget includes $1.7-million for a dedicated police department. view article arw

A Virtual Mirage

June 1908:30 AM
 

Even before schools began to close due to COVID-19, the calls and emails started.  As the Executive Director of Virtual Learning at the only public full-time virtual school in Texas with an “A” grade, districts across Texas and beyond have come with the same question: “How do we go full-time virtual?”  The answer I had to give was something most didn’t want to hear.  Going full-time virtual is not a solution for the overwhelming majority of students.  view article arw

Tomball ISD Superintendent Martha Salazar-Zamora has been elected to the Texas Association of School Administrators Executive Committee, a decision-making body for the professional association of Texas school superintendents and administrators, to represent the Region 4 education service center, a seven-county area, according to Region 4 information and a June 1 release from the district. Members of the committee are elected by TASA members throughout the state to represent each of the 20 education service center regions, according to the release. view article arw

Texas ends this school year in an unprecedented situation with the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. School district special education departments are in an especially difficult position because the requirement to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education continues, despite the effects of the pandemic. In this time of uncertainty, we recommend that school administrators work closely with their special education departments to support their efforts to provide services to students.

Weeks after Midland board leaders approved a calendar for the 2020-21 school year, Midland ISD staff wants to “circle back around for another discussion” of optional calendars.  Midland ISD Superintendent Orlando Riddick told trustees during their budget workshop last week that a discussion would take place Monday. The agenda packet for today’s school board meeting offers more detail, including a plan used by Socorro ISD, which was a template for the district’s “intercessional” draft.   (20) view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott justified his expanded re-opening of the Texas economy during a national television interview on Monday by pointing to COVID-19 data heading in the right direction and saying it’s time to end “government forced poverty.”  Texas reported 11 coronavirus deaths on Monday, its lowest daily death total in more than a month.   view article arw

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As the debate wages on about how to safely reopen Texas businesses, Gov. Greg Abbott’s next public set of announcements comes Monday afternoon.  Abbott’s press conference will take place at 2 p.m. CDT from the Texas Capitol.  His press conference will be streamed in this article and KXAN’s Facebook page.  In the briefing, Abbott is expected to update Texans on “continued safe and strategic reopening” of businesses and the state’s economy, according to an advisory. view article arw

Funeral services are set for Athens ISD Superintendent Blake Stiles, who died Wednesday.  The visitation is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Autry’s Carroll-Lehr Funeral Home, 1910 E. Tyler St. in Athens. A second visitation is set for 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home, according to the funeral home website.  A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. Monday at Miners Cemetery in McCurtain, Oklahoma. An obituary is not yet available from the funeral home.  Stiles, 45, died Wednesday morning at UT Health in Athens.   (15) 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.”

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school shutdowns across the nation forcing districts to transition to remote learning to educate kids, there has been a complete upheaval in terms of how we deliver and collect information about our students. Teachers are reaching out virtually—through video and teleconferencing—at untraditional times of the day, to entire groups of students and their parents. To paraphrase the Secretary of Education, it is the “ingenuity, innovation and grit” of our educators that has given rise to new situations and new questions surrounding student privacy.

General elections are next scheduled in Texas for May 2, 2020. Whether any elections take place on that date remains to be seen. For Texas school districts, there are issues concerning whether they should conduct elections at that time or postpone until November. While that question has been our primary consideration, there is also a related and additional question: How do we inspire voter turnout, now and going forward? School districts, educators and administrators have an interest in getting out the vote and in encouraging student voting. Below we will consider issues related to making determinations about conducting or postponing elections, how those decisions may affect voter turnout, and methods to increase turnout going forward from these strange days.

If the property the district wishes to sell contains a “facility” (undefined, but could mean any building), the district must first offer the property to any charter schools with boundaries that overlap the district boundaries. The district is not required to accept an offer from a charter school. Tex. Educ. Code § 11.1542.

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.

Since the passing of Senate Bill 7 in the 2017 legislative session, much attention has been paid to the reportability of superintendents and principals to the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) for failure to report educator misconduct. However, there is another SBEC-reportable offense which is commonly overlooked: the failure of a superintendent or principal to notify all required school personnel when a student is in the criminal system based on certain “reportable offenses” as defined by Code of Criminal Procedure section 15.27 and district policy GRAA (LEGAL).

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.