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?

Experts say testing is still a crucial step as Texas continues to deal with the pandemic. COVID-19 testing has dropped to its lowest point in Texas since last fall, and health experts say the trend reflects the overall improvement in the course of the pandemic statewide. During the February winter storm that left millions of Texans without access to electricity or water, testing rates dipped below 50,000 tests per day on average for the first time since September. Testing levels rebounded after the winter storm, but the number of tests reported in March is still significantly lower than during December, January and February, at the peak of the pandemic in Texas. "As COVID-19 cases decline across Texas, testing rates are dropping, too" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.    (15) view article arw

The board of trustees of the DeKalb Independent School District has contracted with Arrow Educational Services, Inc. to assist them in their search for a new superintendent. Lead Consultant/COO Jim Dunlap will conduct the search. More information including timeline and the application process is available on arrowsearchinc.com and TexasISD.com.    (08) view article arw

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.

When a child’s parents have undergone a divorce or another legal proceeding adjudicating rights and duties to a child, there is some basic information to be aware of as it relates to the child’s education. In the context of special education, a parent may present you with a copy of a court order and demand that it be followed in the process of providing services to the student.

In May 2020, President Trump’s Department of Education issued new Title IX regulations, effective August 14, 2020. The regulations resulted in a sea change in the handling of sexual harassment complaints in schools. This article will start by covering 20 new tasks for Title IX Coordinators under the regulations that districts should be aware of now and will close by examining the possible fate of the regulations in a Biden administration later.

My favorite article that I have written over the years is one on official state holidays and recognitions. I find it fascinating to see which lobbyists succeed in recognitions for their cause. I look at this calendar and wonder why Monarch butterflies and veterinarian technicians get their own week, Lung Cancers Awareness gets only one day, Gold Star mothers get a day but not fathers, and there are no recognition days in December?

A chill in the air means two things in Texas: school’s back in session, and football is here. With most districts already beginning their football schedule, some have discovered the dilemma of how to prevent further outbreaks of COVID-19 while still maintaining their spot under the Friday Night Lights. The current executive order in Texas requires face masks to be worn unless you’re in a county with less than 20 active cases or have filed exemption paperwork. As of today, only 57 counties are exempt from this mandate, and these counties have to face the challenge of remaining under 20 reported cases. With new teams every Friday filling the bleachers from different high infection-rate counties, people are now in close quarters without masks to watch their teams play. And, as Homecoming fast approaches, alumni from all across the country may be bringing their germs with them as they scream the fight song. It’s time to put a winning strategy in place before the impending flu season outshines playoffs.

No, not John Bolton’s book. Ambassador Bolton’s book title comes from the song from the musical Hamilton. “The Room Where it Happens,” tells the story of the secret meeting between Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and John Madison, that led to Washington DC becoming our nation’s capital in exchange for a federal financial system designed by Alexander Hamilton, our nation’s first Treasury Secretary. Yes, I admit that I am a history junkie and a Hamilton groupie: I love the musical and actually have visited Hamilton’s home (Hamilton Grange) in New York City, his grave (Trinity Church Cemetery), Weehawken (the duel location), and even visited Aaron Burr’s grave (Princeton, NJ).

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.

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.”

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.

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.