Document Sample

   William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
   Since the early 1980s, a host of measures have been put
    in place to strengthen the curriculum, measure student
    achievement, and hold school districts and schools
   Texas passed legislation in 1981 requiring a balance
    between foundation curriculum (core subjects) and
    enrichment curriculum (TEC §§28.001-.002) based on the
    Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
   The state board can specify the content of the required
    curriculum, but it cannot designate either the
    methodology or the amount of time to be used in
    teaching it.
The State Board of Education (SBOE) must (TEC §§28.002,
   §§28.025(b), §§28.053):

   adopt curriculum requirements for minimum, recommended, and
    advanced high school programs,
   ensure that students enroll in recommended or advanced with
    some exceptions
   require school districts to develop advanced placement tests
   give a one-time $3000 grant to schools offering AP courses
   award incentive grants to teachers
   subsidize test fees for needy students
   Legislation enacted in 2003 permitted TEA (TEC
    §§32.151, 29.909)
        to establish a three year technology immersion pilot,
        to allow districts to participate in electronic courses and
         virtual learning
   TEC §28.004 requires districts to establish a local health
    education advisory council to assist in ensuring that local
    community values and health concerns are reflected in
    the district’s human sexuality course.
   TEC §29.085 authorizes public school districts to offer an
    integrated program of educational and support services
    for students who are pregnant or who are parents.
   TEC §28.022 provides that districts must establish a policy
    that provides for parent- teacher conferences and
    requires notice to parents of their student’s
    performance in each class or subject at least once every
    twelve weeks.
   The legislature has directed the State Board to establish a
    statewide student knowledge- and skills-based
    assessment program, currently the Texas Assessment of
    Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) (TEC §39.022). Children with
    disabilities or with limited English proficiency may be
    permitted to take an alternate assessment and maybe
    promoted based passing the alternate assessment
    instrument (TEC §28.0211(b)).
   In 1997, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education
    Fund (MALDEF) filed a federal lawsuit against the state’s former
    exit test, TAAS, arguing that it was discriminatory against
    Hispanics and Blacks who failed at higher rate. In 2000, the U.
    S. District Court rejected the lawsuit by noting that the test
    provided more positive than negative outcomes (GI Forum
    Image de Tejas v. Texas Education Agency).
   The 1999 legislative session produced TEC §28.021 which
    stipulated that students may be promoted only on the basis of
    academic achievement. In addition, TEC §28.0211 specified the
    circumstances under which a student can be retained for failure
    to pass state assessment tests.
   According to TEC §§28.0211(c), 28.0213, and 29.081, after a
    student fails the TAAS for a second time, a grade placement
    committee will be established to determine what instruction the
    district should provide the student before administering the test
    a third time
   Students not likely to be promoted to the next grade are
    required to attend an extended-year program, an accelerated
    reading program, an accelerated instructional program, or a
    basic skills program (TEC §25.085).
   Further, a district must develop a personal graduation plan for
    each middle school or high school student who does not perform
    well on the state assessment or is not likely to graduate on time
    (TEC §28.0212).
   A student may receive a diploma when the student
    completes the required curriculum and the exit-level
    assessment. If a student fails the state assessment
    requirement, they may be awarded a certificate of
    coursework completion (C).
   According to TEC §31.104, a district may not withhold a
    diploma or deny a student the opportunity of graduating
    or participating in graduation exercised for failure to
    return books or pay the price of the book.
   One of the appraisal criteria of teachers and school principals
    must encompass the performance of the students (TEC §21.351,
    21.354(e)). In McLean v. Quanah I.S.D. the commissioner of
    education observed that significant lack of student progress can
    be a reason for nonrenewal, however the district did not have
    sufficient evidence of teacher incompetence to support the
    nonrenewal, and the commissioner reversed the district’s
    nonrenewal decision.
   A teacher cannot be required to change a student’s grade on a
    course or exam, unless the board of trustees determines the
    grade is arbitrary, erroneous, or not consistent with the school
    district’s grading policy (TEC §28.0212).
   TEC §39.051 directs the SBOE to establish a set of academic
    excellence indicators for school campuses.
   TEC §11.253(c), requires that school principals must consult
    annually with their site-based planning and decision-making
    committee in reviewing and revising the campus improvement
    plan relative to performance of the campus on the academic
    excellence indicators.
   Each year, TEA prepares a “campus report card” that compares
    the performance of the campus to other campuses around the
    state. School boards are required to publish an annual report
    describing the educational performance of the district and each
    of its campuses on student achievement and other measures
    (TEC §§39.052, 39.053).
   School districts and individual schools are held
    accountable to the TEA through the accreditation process
    with classifications of exemplary, recognized, academically
    acceptable, and academically unacceptable (TEC
   Sanctions for low-performing campuses can include
    appointment of a campus intervention team to render
    assistance, selection of a board of managers, and
    reconstitution or closure of the campus if the school has
    been deficient for two or more years (TEC §§39.132).
   The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 rocked the
    education world when it was signed into law by President
    George W. Bush to raise student achievement by holding
    states and school districts to high standards with strict
    accountability requirements (20 U.S.C. §6301 et seq.).
   It amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
    (ESEA) of 1965 and its accountability system seems to be
    modeled after the Texas system.
   Congress tied adequate yearly progress (AYP) to all public
    schools, but only the ones that receive Title I funds are
    subject to the low-performance sanctions outlined below.
   Each state’s definition of AYP must apply “the same high
    standards of academic achievement to all public
    elementary and secondary school students in the State”.
    This means that all subgroups must meet standard and
    states must disaggregate the data to show AYP of each
    subgroup (20 U.S.C. §6311(b)(2)(C)(1)(5) et seq.).
   If a school fails to make AYP for two consecutive years,
    then a school enters “school improvement” and all
    students have “public school choice” (34 C.F.R. §200.32).
    Schools enter “supplemental educational services” in the
    third year, “corrective action” for the fourth year,
    “restructuring” for the fifth year (34 C.F.R. §§200.42,
    200.43, 200.45).
   The removal of objectionable material was
    addressed in a murky 5-4 decision by the U.S.
    Supreme Court when it affirmed a lower court
    decision ordering a trial to determine why a
    school board removed controversial books from
    the libraries (Board of Education of Island Trees
    v. Pico).
   Since the majority of the court was not
    consistent in its reasoning, no definite set of
    guidelines can be derived from the decision.
   The U.S. Court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit had an
    opportunity in 1995 to apply the Pico ruling to a Louisiana
    school district’s removal of a controversial book Voodoo
    Hoodoo (Campbell v. St. Tammany Parish School Board).
   The board voted to remove the book from all school
    libraries, but a lawsuit was filed by other parents who
    objected to the removal.
   The Fifth Circuit sent the case back to the lower courts for
    a determination of what motivated the school board’s
    action, expecially considering that many of the members
    either had not read the book or had read less than its
   The federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) required
    both libraries and schools using federal Elementary and
    Secondary Education Act funds for Internet use to have filtering
    devices in place by July, 2002.
   The American Library Association filed a lawsuit against CIPA,
    charging that it unconstitutionally censors academic material.
   The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the statute as constitutional
    (American Library Association v. U.S., 2003) since the
    governmental interest in protecting children from harmful
    materials was great, and the burden on adult library uses having
    their use filtered was minimal.
INTERNET (cont.)
   Schools need to be careful when posting
    personally identifiable information about
    students that would violate the terms of the
    Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
   School districts use “acceptable use policies” to
    place restrictions on the use of its own
    technology and to impose sanctions on those
    who violate the conditions of the (Electronics
    Communications Act (18 U.S.C. §§2510-2520)).
   TEC §33.081 leaves to the SBOE the establishment of rules
    limiting participation in extracurricular activities during the
    school day and school week.
   TEC §33.081(g) provides that the decision of the Texas
    Commissioner of Education in a dispute over student eligibility
    for extracurricular activities may not be appealed in state court
    except on the grounds of being arbitrary or capricious.
   The “no pass-no play” provision specifies that a student who
    does not maintain a grade of 70 or higher in all courses must be
    suspended from extracurricular activities sponsored by the
    district or UIL for at least three school weeks or until the grade
    is raised to 70 or higher (TEC §33.081(g)).
   A flurry of litigation greeted the implementation
    of the original “no pass-no play” rule in 1984.
   The Texas Supreme Court ruled in 1985 that the
    law does not deprive students of any recognized
    right to participate in extracurricular activities
    and is not discriminatory (Spring Branch I.S.D.
    v. Stamos), and was rejected again by the state
    appeals court in 1991 (Texas Education Agency.
    v. Stamos).
   To reduce the dropout rate, the commissioner of
    education is required to develop a process for auditing
    school dropout records electronically and administer a
    “middle college” education pilot program for students who
    are at risk of dropping out (TEC §§39.055, 29.908).
   Education Code §§33.151-.158 outlines the “Communities
    in Schools” program, a youth dropout prevention
    program, and how those receiving funds under TEC
    §33.156 must participate in the program.
   TEC §29.081 requires each district to develop
    appropriate compensatory or accelerated
    programs for students who are not performing
   Districts may operate an extended-year program
    for students in kindergarten through grade eight
    who are identified as unlikely to be promoted to
    the next grade (TEC §29.082) or an optional
    flexible year program (TEC §29.0821).
   In 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Lau v. Nichols
    that federal guidelines enforcing Title VI of the 1964 Civil
    Rights Act did require school districts to eliminate
    language deficiencies where school board policies
    discriminate against minorities.
    The case involved Chinese students who were not
    receiving any instruction in learning English, yet were
    enrolled in all-English classes.
   The Court decided that the district was required to take
    affirmative steps to rectify the language deficiencies.
   The problem is that the Court did not specify exactly what form
    bilingual programs are to have in order to comply with the 1964
   As a result of United States v. Texas [Bilingual], Subchapter B of
    Chapter 29 of the Texas Education Code set forth the law with
    respect to bilingual education.
   These provisions were originally adopted in 1973, and revised
    substantially in 1981. TEC §29.051 asserts that English is the
    primary language of Texas, but did require school districts with
    twenty or more students of limited English proficiency (LEP) in
    the same grade to offer bilingual education throughout middle
    school, and English as a second language (ESL) in high school.
   A gifted and talented student is defined as one “who
    performs at or shows the potential for performing at a
    remarkably high level of accomplishment when compared
    to others of the same age, experience, or environment
    and “who exhibits high performance capability in an
    intellectual, creative, or artistic field; possesses an
    unusual capacity for leadership, or excels in a specific
    academic field” (TEC §29.121).
   Using the criteria developed by the SBOE, each district is
    required to adopt a process for identifying gifted and
    talented students and to establish a program for those
    students in each grade level.
   Provisions of the Family Code require that anyone having
    cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or
    welfare has been or may be adversely affected by abuse
    or neglect shall immediately make a report to any local or
    state law enforcement agency or any other appropriate
    agency (Family Code §§261.101, 261.103). Section
    261.109 of the Family Code makes failure to report
    suspected child abuse or neglect a Class B misdemeanor.
    An appeals court in Morris v. State, 1992, and the
    commissioner in Texas Education Agency v. Morris, 1994,
    felt that since the teacher did not report the abuse by the
    two aides, she should be convicted and have her teaching
    certificate revoked.
   One thing the chapter did not discuss was
   Whether or not homeschooling was considered
    a viable option was settle in 1994 when the
    Texas Supreme Court ruled in Leeper v.
    Arlington that home schools are private schools.
   Private schools are not regulated by the state of
    Texas at this time and so parents did not have
    to present their curriculum to the school district
    and/or register with school officials.
   The court in that case ruled that school districts are still
    required to enforce the compulsory attendance laws and
    that parents who are teaching their children at home
    must cooperate with the school district in such inquires.
   In 1995, the Texas Education Agency clarified cooperation
    as the following: “If the school district contacts a family
    who maintains that they are teaching their children at
    home, and the family provides a written letter of
    assurance that they have a curriculum that covers the
    basic areas of reading, spelling, grammar, math and a
    course in good citizenship and they are pursuing it in a
    bona fide manner (not a sham), this constitutes
    cooperation with the school”
   Although efforts have been made to give more autonomy
    to local districts, federal and state authority still maintains
    a great amount of control concerning requirements for
    the state-mandated curriculum, sex education, student
    testing, and controls on extracurricular participation.
    However, these same federal and state laws have
    strengthened school district, campus, and administrator
    accountability measures and it is the hope of everyone
    involved that these legislative efforts will reduce the
    dropout rate and improve student achievement.

Shared By:
Description: Public School Law - Dr. Kritsonis