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Hot For Teacher: A TCTA Back-to-School Special. Presented by: The Texas Classroom Teachers Association. Lonnie Hollingsworth, Jr. Director of Legal Services & Governmental Relations Presented by: The Texas Classroom Teachers Association. Paige Bruton Williams

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Hot For Teacher: A TCTA Back-to-School Special

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Hot For Teacher:

A TCTA Back-to-School Special

Presented by:

The Texas Classroom Teachers Association

Lonnie Hollingsworth, Jr.

Director of Legal Services & Governmental Relations

Presented by:

The Texas Classroom Teachers Association

Paige Bruton Williams

Staff Attorney & Governmental Relations

Presented by:

The Texas Classroom Teachers Association

Lindsay Gustafson

Director Public Affairs & Staff Attorney

IMPORTANT NOTE:This presentation provides up-to-date information on education-related topics for Texas teaching professionals. This presentation does NOT substitute for the advice of an attorney. Members who have specific questions or need further information may contact the TCTA staff by calling (888) 879-8282. General questions of a legal nature may be sent online using our “Ask-a-Lawyer” response center at

Question & Answer

And now our…

Use of Social Media

Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter

All logos copywrited .

Basic Rules to Live By

  • NEVER “friend” a student.

  • Even if you have precisely customized your privacy settings, assume that everything you post can and will be public. Always assume that students, parents, and the district will see what you post.

  • Do not use school district equipment or time to update, check, or post on your social networking sites.

  • Your policy may already have a policy to address this, but if not the Texas Association of School Boards has recently developed a model policy regarding the use of electronic communication.

Basic Rules to Live By

  • TCTA may or may not believe that the policy that your school board adopts is legal, so if you have any questions or concerns about your school district’s policy, please call our legal department at 888-879-8282.

  • The State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) has also proposed revisions to the Educator’s Code of Ethics regarding inappropriate communications with students.

    • Proposed factors in determining if there is excessive or inappropriate communication:

      • Nature, purpose, timing, amount of communication

      • Did you seek to conceal the communication or was it public?

      • What was the subject matter of the communication?



Texas Education Code Sec. 28.0216 DISTRICT GRADING POLICY.

A school district shall adopt a grading policy, including provisions for the assignment of grades on class assignments and examinations, before each school year.

A district grading policy:                

(1) must require a classroom teacher to assign a grade that reflects the student's relative mastery of an assignment;                

(2) may not require a classroom teacher to assign minimum grade for an assignment without regard to the student‘s quality of work; and                

(3) may allow a student a reasonable opportunity to   make up or redo a class assignment or examination for which the   student received a failing grade.


Commissioner Sends

To the Administrator Addressed Letter

Districts Sue




Budget Shortfall

State Budget Shortfall

  • Currently predicted to be at least $18 Billion.

  • The good news is that public education is traditionally “off limits” when it comes to cutting spending.

  • The bad news is that there are few “sacred cows” this upcoming session and while education funding may be spared from severe cuts, it probably won’t be increased by much, if at all

  • Rainy Day Fund estimated at between $8B - $9B

Areas at Risk of Being Cut

  • The District Award for Teacher Excellence (DATE)

    • Approximately $400M

  • Pre-K Early Start Grant

    • Approximately $210M for fiscal year 2010-2011

  • Textbooks

    • Legislature only funded 85% of the appropriations request for textbooks during the last legislative session

Teacher Rights and Benefits

Teacher Rights and Benefits

  • Planning and Preparation/Duty-Free Lunch

    Teachers are entitled to them with few exceptions, even during events such as TAKS, team meetings, and lunch-duty.

  • Paperwork Reduction Act

    Protections provided in the Paperwork Reduction Act may be helpful if you are facing excessive paperwork requirements.

Teacher Rights and Benefits

  • Right to Join a Professional Association (or not join—but why???)

Why TCTA is the BEST?

"TCTA is an organization that recognizes the issues that affect its members. That’s why they’re effective, and that’s why they get things done, and that’s why they’re the people we talk to."Robert ScottTexas Education Commissioner

"TCTA has treated me with the utmost professionalism, respect and compassion. I've dealt with other organizations prior to being a member of TCTA and have never experienced the unwavering support that has been given to me by TCTA.“ Delaina De La Paz, Harlingen CISD

  • Selective Membership – No administrators

  • $7 million Professional Liability Insurance

  • Most experienced legal team for teachers

  • FREE online CPE –SBEC approved

  • Top-ranked education advocacy group in Texas

  • Cost saving programs and discounts

Teacher Rights and Benefits

  • Personal Leave

    Each school employee is entitled to five days of personal leave per year with no limit on accumulation. School districts may provide additional personal leave beyond this minimum.

  • Talking to School Board Members*

    School district employment policies may not restrict the ability of a school district employee to communicate directly with a member of the school board on matters relating to the operation of the school district.

    * TCTA initiated legislation

Teacher Rights and Benefits

  • Grievances

    You can file a grievance over any condition of work, whether or not the condition of work violates a law, administrative rule, or school board policy. Please note that the timelines for filing a grievance are very short, usually 15 calendar days or less. If you do not timely file a grievance, you may waive the opportunity to appeal this matter.


to the


Race To The Top

  • $4.35 Billion fund originally born out of the federal stimulus funding package.

  • Seen as a template for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – aka NCLB.

  • TCTA did review the grant criteria and became increasingly apprehensive about the requirements.

TCTA’s view of RTTT

  • TCTA was very alarmed due to the emphasis on evaluating, paying, and terminating teachers based on student test performance.

  • RTTT also encourages essentially unchecked charter school growth to address struggling schools.

  • Common core standards – requirement for states to participate in the development of common curriculum and commit to adopting those curriculum standards sight unseen. Only Texas and Alaska chose not to participate in the development and adoption of the national curriculum

HR 1586 (the “edujobs” provision)

  • Passed the US Senate on August 5, 2010

  • There is a question as to whether or not the Governor can make the assurances required by the bill.

    • The bill includes an amendment that requires the Governor to assure that Texas will maintain State support for elementary and secondary education at an equal or greater percentage as the amount of support provided in fiscal year 2011.

  • TCTA is hopeful that it can be resolved and that Texas can receive the $820 million for which it would be eligible.

HR 1586 Continued

  • It is anticipated that the U.S. Congress will vote on this bill later today.

  • Please check the TCTA website ( for updates.

Student Removal

 REMOVAL BY TEACHERexcerpts from the Texas Education Code

(a)  A teacher may send a student to the principal's office to maintain effective discipline in the classroom.The principal shall respond by employing appropriate discipline management techniquesconsistent with the student code of conduct…

(b)  A teacher may remove from class a student:

(1)  who has been documented by the teacher to repeatedly interfere with the teacher's ability to communicate effectively with the students in the class or with the ability of the student's classmates to learn; or

(2)  whose behavior the teacher determines is so unruly, disruptive, or abusive that it seriously interferes with the teacher's ability to communicate effectively with the students in the class or with the ability of the student's classmates to learn.

REMOVAL BY TEACHERexcerpts from the Texas Education Code

(c)  If a teacher removes a student from class under Subsection (b), the principal may place the student into another appropriate classroom, into in-school suspension, or into a disciplinary alternative education program... The principal may not return the student to that teacher's class without the teacher's consent unless the committee established under Section 37.003 determines that such placement is the best or only alternative available.

REMOVAL BY TEACHERexcerpts from the Texas Education Code

(d)  A teacher shall remove from class and send to the principal for placement in a disciplinary alternative education program or for expulsion, as appropriate, a student who engages in conduct described under Section 37.006 or 37.007.  The student may not be returned to that teacher's class without the teacher's consent unless the committee established under Section 37.003 determines that such placement is the best or only alternative available.  If the teacher removed the student from class because the student has engaged in the elements of any offense listed in Section 37.006(a)(2)(B) or Section 37.007(a)(2)(A) or (b)(2)(C) against the teacher, the student may not be returned to the teacher's class without the teacher's consent. The teacher may not be coerced to consent.

Recent AG Salary Opinion

Why a Request for an AG opinion?

  • Last session the legislature passed HB 3646 which provided for the (at minimum) $800 pass-through salary increase for those subject to the state minimum salary schedule and speech-pathologists.

  • The bill clearly provided for a local salary schedule step increase for the 2009-2010 school year.

  • There was some question about whether or not the bill required school districts to provide another local salary schedule step increase for the 2010-2011 school year.

TCTA submitted a brief

AG Opinion

  • The opinion states that employees who would have received a step increase on a local salary schedule for the 2008-2009 school year if the same schedule were in effect for the upcoming school year will be entitled to that step increase for the 2010-2011 school year.

  • The minimum pay requirement applies to new hires as well as returning educators.

AG Opinion

  • To determine if you’re being paid the correct amount, you must first determine your salary under the district’s 2008-2009 salary schedule, then adjust for two years of experience. Then the district must also apply the required pass-through pay raise that the legislature passed in 2009. This pass-through pay raise was a minimum of $800.

  • The opinion is advisory, but Commissioner of Education Robert Scott will likely follow the rationale if called upon to exercise his authority to rule on matters of school law if a grievance is filed and appealed to him.

Miscellaneous Laws Education Gurus Should Know

Miscellaneous Laws Education Gurus Should Know

  • Non-Renewal of Contract

    Teachers must be provided with notice no later than 45 days prior to the last instructional day if they have a term or probationary contract and the district proposes to non-renew it.

  • Resignation

    Contracted teachers have a right to automatic acceptance of their resignation if it is properly submitted within 45 days prior to the first instructional day of the school year.

Miscellaneous Laws Education Gurus Should Know

  • Reassignment

    Teachers may not be reassigned to a position for which they are not fully certified without their written consent.

  • Maximum number of hours a teacher can be required to work

    Unfortunately, there is no limit. Teachers are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act; however, paraprofessionals are covered.

Miscellaneous Laws Education Gurus Should Know

  • Immunity for textbooks and technology

    District employees may not be required to pay for textbooks or instructional technology that are stolen, misplaced, or not returned by a student. Only one little caveat with this law.*

    * TCTA initiated legislation.

Child Abuse and Neglect

Who Must Report?

  • Texas Family Code §261.101:

    (b) If a professional has cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected or may be abused or neglected…the professional shall make a report not later than the 48th hour after the hour the professional first suspects that the child has been abused.

     A professional is a person who is licensed or certified by the state – including teachers and administrators.

Can’t I just report it to the Principal?

  • No. A teacher may report his or her concerns to a principal or administrator, but the duty to report still lies with the teacher.

  • Once a teacher reports to the principal, the principal now has his or her own duty to report, as well.

  • A school district cannot require a teacher to report the suspected abuse or neglect to administration prior to reporting to CPS.

Where do I report?

  • Generally:

    • Any local or state law enforcement agency;

    • The Department of Family and Protective Services (CPS);

    • The state agency that operates, licenses, certifies, or registers the facility in which the alleged abuse or neglect occurred; or

    • The agency designated by the court to be responsible for the protection of children.

  • BUT…

Who Do I Report To?

  • BUT…continued:

    • The report must be made to CPS if the suspected abuse involves a person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child, including:

      • Parent, guardian, foster parent;

      • Member of child’s family or household;

      • Person with whom the child’s parent cohabitates;

      • School personnel or volunteer at child’s school; or

      • Personnel or volunteer at a public or private child-care facility that provides services for the child.

Practical Pointers

  • If you discuss the situation with your principal, you can report the suspected abuse together.

  • If you have to report, please make note of the date that you made the report, the name of the person with whom you spoke (intake officer), and the case number that they assign to the report.

  • Please be aware, failure to report is a criminal offense – it is generally a Class A misdemeanor but in some instances it can be a State Jail Felony.

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