Sine die, the last day of the 88th legislative regular session, is fast approaching. Several bills that are still active could affect school district construction procedures and future school construction projects. The potential impacts of these bills and their current statuses are analyzed below.

Despite the chaotic end to the regular Texas legislative session — with all eyes on the impeachment of Ken Paxton and the failure of priority bills — several less attention-grabbing bills did successfully make it through both chambers and onto the governor’s desk. One of those is the so-called “no kids in cuffs” bill, Senate Bill 133. It bans school police officers and security guards from restraining, Tasing, or using chemical irritants like pepper spray on students below 6th grade “unless the student poses a serious risk of harm to the student or another person.” The measure is one of several championed by disability rights advocates at the beginning of the session, and the only one to pass. view article arw

Inside this small school tucked into Uptown’s State Thomas neighborhood, roughly 170 children — many of them with Down syndrome — learn core subjects as well as skills for independent living. At the Notre Dame School of Dallas, a classroom is equipped with a Murphy bed so children can get hands-on practice tucking in the sheets and covering the pillows. Elsewhere in the building, students read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" together or learn about Jackie Robinson. view article arw

It’s about that time for school districts across the state to consider either to adopt a District of Innovation Plan for the first time or to revisit an existing plan by considering additional or revised exemptions under the Texas Education Code. In a similar vein, we’re currently fielding an increased number of calls from clients who have now reached the end of the five-year term of their initial District of Innovation Plan and simply need to renew the plan for another term. As we inch closer to the end of the school year, this guide seeks to provide answers to your questions regarding the ins-and-outs of adoption, renewal, and amendment of DOI Plans.

This article discusses Interlocal Contracts (also known as “interlocal agreements”) and Interlocal Transfers, two mechanisms that exist to promote school district efficiency and cooperation between school districts. Hopefully, this article will provide clarity on the intricacies of each and promote their use to expedite school district compliance with statutory requirements, such as procurement under the Texas Education Code and Texas Government Code and record confidentiality under the Texas Public Information Act.

Whether a district is acquiring property for immediate use or to simply hold until they are ready to use it, acquiring and owning property burdened with easements can complicate a district’s long-range planning. On the other hand, selling property that is burdened with easements raises separate, and distinct, concerns. Here are some tips on how to effectively deal with property that is burdened with easements.

By state law, school boards must promulgate policies that prohibit students from smoking, using, or possessing e-cigarettes or tobacco products at school-related or school-sanctioned activities on or off school property. Tex. Educ. Code § 38.006(b). To accomplish this mandate, numerous districts have adopted language along these lines, stating, “[s]tudents are prohibited from possessing or using any type of tobacco product, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), or any other electronic vaporizing device, while on school property at any time or while attending an off-campus school related activity. The district and its staff strictly enforce prohibitions against the use of all tobacco products, e-cigarettes, or any other electronic vaporizing device, by students and all others on school property and at school-sponsored and school-related activities.”

The Texas Government Code, Chapter 552, Texas Public Information Act (“TPIA” or the “Act”) provides citizens a statutory process to obtain access and copies of public information. School districts, as custodians of records both public and confidential by law, are tasked with the difficult role of balancing the public policy of open government with its duty to protect student, employee, and various third-party information. In light of the recent public education climate morphing citizens’ understanding of what the Act permits versus what it entitles, this article aims to clarify the Act’s purpose and compliance requirements.

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.

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.