October 2015

HR Extras

Texas Education Human Resources Day is right around the corner

Governor Greg Abbott has declared Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, Texas Education Human Resources Day (TEHRD). This is the sixth year school district leaders and the public have been encouraged to acknowledge the hard work of all human resource department staff members.
 
TASB HR Services has e-mailed customizable certificates of appreciation and a sample board resolution to superintendents’ secretaries and district public relations staff members in an effort to help district leaders honor their HR departments. We’ve also posted the certificate and board resolution online, along with the Governor’s proclamation.
 
The Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA) spearheaded the effort to set aside one day each year to recognize the contributions of school HR departments.
 
TASB HR Services Director Cindy Clegg encourages school leaders to acknowledge the work of their HR departments. “The focus of the future will be on finding, developing, and retaining talented educators—which is more challenging today because our teacher shortage is growing,” Clegg said. “HR leaders can have a tremendous impact on cultivating a strategy for success and should be recognized for the important role they play. From creating first impressions through the final exit, HR can influence every employee in a school district.”

TEA posts FAQ on educator certification exam retakes

The Texas Education Agency has posted a list of frequently asked questions on the rules for retakes of educator certification exams. A new law limits educators taking certification exam to five attempts on each exam (the initial attempt plus four retakes). If a prospective teacher does not pass an exam after five attempts, he or she would not be allowed to take the exam again unless the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) waives the limit for good cause. Waiver rules will be made by SBEC and are expected to be in place by May 2016.
 
Districts that ask teachers to obtain additional certifications or that want to encourage education aides to become teachers can share the FAQ to help educators understand the new limits on certification exam retakes.

Study finds better teachers were hired during recession

The quality of teacher hires improved during the recession, according to a recent working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
 
Researchers looked at student test scores and administrative data (2000‒01 to 2008‒09) in Florida public schools, comparing teachers hired during recession periods to those hired during normal markets and their impact on the scores.
 
Education Week writer Stephen Sawchuk points out that this paper is among the first to provide evidence of how a recession affects the teacher labor market. The paper indicated that paying new teachers more would get better candidates in the door regardless of the economy.
 
It’s important to note that teachers hired in a slow economy were more prone to pack up and move on once the economy improved.

Failing to sign I-9s results in largest employer penalty to date

A California event-planning company was hit with the largest fine ever ordered, $602,250, due to a repeated failure to sign section 2 of the I-9 Form. The Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer has jurisdiction to review civil penalties for I-9 violations. The office ordered the company to pay the fine for more than 800 I-9 paperwork violations.
 
Employers must complete and sign section 2 of Form I-9 within three business days of a hire, attesting that the appropriate verification and employment authorization documents have been reviewed.
 
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audited the company in 2011. Other violations included failure to file I-9 forms in any state of completion for four people, failure to locate the I-9 Forms for eight employees at the time of the audit, failure to ensure that three workers checked a box in section 1 indicating immigration status, failure to ensure that two workers signed section 1, failure to ensure that two workers entered their alien numbers, and missing list A, B, and C documents.
 
“This case demonstrates the need for employers to conduct routine self-audits of their I-9 inventories to ensure that the forms have been properly completed and retained and are ready for inspection,” said Mary Pivec, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Ford Harrison.

Texas AFT pushes for overtime pay for teachers, calls for more affordable health care

Texas HR administrators are eagerly awaiting final Department of Labor (DOL) rules that will make some salaried school district workers eligible for overtime. Teacher organization Texas AFT is pushing for the new rules to go considerably farther. They want teachers to be eligible for overtime pay.
 
The organization encouraged its members to contact the DOL and comment on making teachers and other education professionals eligible for overtime rules. A long-standing federal administrative regulation excludes teachers from receiving overtime, and the proposed rules did nothing to change that.
 
Texas AFT and other educator groups are also pushing the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) to keep the TRS-ActiveCare 2 plan, a comprehensive coverage option chosen by about a third of school employees. Texas AFT notes that educators have borne most of the cost of health premium increases and called for TRS to seek more state funding to help cover educator health care costs.