Going to school after having a baby is tough, and a potential complication to any new mother’s day is finding the time, place, and quiet for expressing breastmilk for their child. The law and current school policies have express guidelines for schools to provide assistance for these mothers, and with the upcoming Title IX changes, there may be more you need to do. Here are the “must’s,” “might’s,” “should’s,” and “could’s” for addressing breastfeeders that need to express milk at school.

Throughout this summer, children in Texas’ youth prison system have repeatedly been trapped in their cells, forced to urinate in water bottles and defecate on the floor. For months, children in at least two of five state lockups reported regularly lacking access to toilets as the Texas Juvenile Justice Department’s workforce shrunk below dangerous levels. Calls for immediate action by juvenile justice advocates and dozens of lawmakers to address the crisis have largely gone unanswered by Gov. Greg Abbott. Last month, the governor’s office said the safety of staff and youth at TJJD was a top priority for him, touted the agency’s recent pay raise — funded largely by agency officials siphoning cash from the plethora of vacant officer positions — and promised to support further salary boosts during next year’s legislative session. His office did not immediately respond to questions for this story.    (14) view article arw

On June 23, 2022, the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released proposed changes to its Title IX regulations that help schools implement the law. The regulations were published in the Federal Register on July 12, 2022, with a 60-day comment period, meaning that comments are due by September 12, 2022. Comments can be submitted electronically here:

In light of the senseless tragedy at Uvalde ISD’s Ross Elementary, it is now more important than ever that school districts reexamine their school security needs in order to optimally protect their students, staff, and greater school communities from both internal and external threats. Although the number of violent events impacting schools around the nation increase year over year at an alarming rate, it is critical that school districts understand that there are a number of practical options available to secure their campuses.

When it comes to advising clients on construction-related matters, there are few things I hate more than having to tell a superintendent that they must stop in their tracks and put the project on a temporary hold because of legal requirements that may not have been considered prior to our telephone call. [WAIT: Before you start to tell yourself that this particular article might not apply to the project you are planning because it is “not construction,” bear in mind that I used the term “construction-related” for a reason]. Ironically, it is the smaller projects that prove to be the most problematic. The point of this article is not to list every single requirement that you will have to comply with when procuring and completing a small project. Rather, it is to show you one concrete step you can take to mitigate some of the delays that can arise and make the project go more smoothly.

Graduation is a big life cycle event, and many students wish to take the opportunity to stand out amongst a wave of one-colored caps and gowns by decorating their regalia with their own personal expressions. We see honor cords, medals, and other tokens for awards and honors that the school hands out, but how should districts respond to students who wish to decorate their mortar board, their gown, or wear an additional stole not given to them by the school?

Regardless of how often school lawyers tell their clients to wait until 10 days before the last day of instruction, we do not actually live in a fantasy world, so we know you offer contracts earlier. Is there any way to protect yourself from the social media gaffe, occasional rant, or outright insubordination that comes from someone knowing they have a contract for another year and saying, so what are you going to do about it now? Termination can be pretty expensive, so let’s look at other options to protect the district.

If you don’t care about the Texas Constitution, stop reading. If you do, then read on. This article is one part civics, two parts history, mixed with one ounce of prevention. Let’s begin.

The Texas Constitution establishes three branches of government. The Legislative Branch is the only branch that can create a “legislative enactment.” The Executive Branch, which includes the office of the Governor, the Attorney General, and all of the state agencies, must work within the framework of a legislative enactment and can create rules to support the aims of a legislative enactment. The Judicial Branch interprets the laws and rules and sometimes is called to test the constitutionality of a legislative enactment. Of these three branches, only the Legislature has the power to make an act that was previously made legal by the Legislature into an illegal act. Think of the three branches like “rock-paper-scissors.” Okay, now… One! Two! Three! Throw!  It’s checks and balances. Civics lesson complete. History module commencing in 3…2…1…

Litigation can be extremely expensive and disruptive. While it is true that school districts in Texas enjoy broad governmental immunity, there are plenty of opportunities for disappointed parties to sue a school district. Reducing the risk of being sued requires lowering frustration levels and supporting the public’s perception of fairness in both the district’s process and the district’s treatment of complaints. Based on nearly three decades of “in the trenches” litigation work, people sue when they are frustrated and feel they have not been treated fairly. Given this insight, a district can reduce its risk of being sued by using the three Ps—process, perception, and preparation.

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.

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.