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.

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

Navarro ISD officially hired its new superintendent.  At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, trustees approved hiring Pecos Barstow Toyah’s interim superintendent as Navarro’s incoming superintendent. Wendi Russell was chosen to lead the district following the departure of Superintendent Dee Carter in the coming weeks.  “I am excited to be there, I’m excited to be a Navarro Panther,” Russell said Friday. “I’m looking forward to helping the community grow. It’s a fast-growth district.“   (11) view article arw

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.

Preventive Law: Vexing Sexting

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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.

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.

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: