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During the 87th Legislative Session, the Legislature made several revisions to the discipline of students receiving special education services under House Bill 785. It is imperative that districts are aware of, and comply with, these new requirements, which became effective on September 1, 2021. A summary is as follows:
During the 2021 Regular Legislative Session, there were a number of proposed bills regarding reading instruction considered by both the bodies of the Texas Legislature, but ultimately, none of the proposed legislation survived the lawmaking gauntlet to be passed into law.
Preventive Law: School Health Advisory Council and Human Sexuality Instruction: 2021 Legislative Update
This year, the legislature passed House Bill 1525 during the regular session and Senate Bill 9 during the second special legislative session, pertaining to School Health Advisory Councils (SHACs) and human sexuality. These two new laws create a set of requirements for SHACs, school boards, and school districts.
Many school districts are utilizing ESSER III funds for HVAC projects. This is a good opportunity to look at common issues that can arise in the procurement process for these projects.
At the outset of the pandemic, Governor Abbott suspended portions of the Texas Open Meetings Act making it easier for school boards to meet by telephone or videoconference. That suspension ends at 12:01 a.m. on September 1, 2021. Starting on September 1, 2021, boards must again comply with all parts of the TOMA. Telephonic and videoconference meetings are still viable options for school boards, but certain prerequisites must be met.
Preventive Law: The Dog Ate My Scientific Calculator! – Students Who Fail to Clear Materials Records
With school starting, you may have students enroll who arrive with notations on their records that they did not return or pay for all their textbooks or technological equipment at their previous campuses. While this may sound like a trivial issue, the Texas Legislature wanted to give schools some teeth to recover or replace learning materials damaged or lost by students. The teeth the Legislature gave schools may not be long and sharp, but schools now have more than plastic chattering teeth with which to recover the materials or the money to replace those materials.
As this unprecedented school year draws to a close, it is important not to forget the basics as we sift through new state and federal legislation, funding paradigms, agency policy changes, and the continued effects of a pandemic on the wane in Texas. Many of the client calls and emails received this spring have been from administrators, over-extended and exhausted after navigating a flurry of new regulations and being tossed about in wave after wave of “guidance” for schools. These calls and emails have been about issues such as:
Now that at least 100 days have passed since the inauguration of President Joe Biden, it is a good time to examine some of the actions his administration has taken that have an impact on public schools. Of course, the executive agency with the most direct impact on schools is the United States Department of Education (DOE), so we will start there and then pay a visit to the Department of Labor, whose actions have an impact on the employment relationships in schools.
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed H.R. 1319, The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, an emergency legislative package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You are likely familiar with the $1,400 direct cash payments for qualifying individuals and $2,800 for joint filers (with an additional $1,400 for each qualifying dependent) based on adjusted gross income, and the minimum wage provision that was not included. But what’s in it for Texas public school districts?
While the pandemic rages on you may be wondering: is now a bad time to invest in property or finally sell that darn barn? We’re here to tell you after a year of the world locking down and the court systems interrupted, there is one aspect of school law that is chugging along just fine—real estate. Trust us, now is a fantastic time to continue your real estate transactions. There’s also one thing to watch out for, and that’s eminent domain. We’re coming up in September on a 10-year deadline regarding condemned land that you may want review.
Following the exciting conclusion of the recent TXHSFB State Championships, many Texas student athletes are looking forward to competing in spring sport offerings. Others, particularly those students who continue to receive instruction through virtual platforms due to COVID-19-related concerns, might feel that their school is unfairly preventing them from participating in their athletic or academic competitions of choice due to their decision to receive virtual-only instruction. As a result, you may have been fielding questions from aggrieved parents and students who claim that the school should offer an additional year of eligibility for a particular event or competition, commonly referred to as a “redshirt” year, for those students who miss significant playing time due to COVID-19.