Spring 2015

Paperwork Reduction Act

As part of a growth plan, Sylvia Ortiz was directed by her principal to produce a written summary of what she learned from two rapport-building exercises and a reflection on how students responded to the activities.  Ortiz complained that requiring her to write these reports violated Texas Education Code section 11.164, commonly referred to as the Paperwork Reduction Act, which limits a district’s ability to require classroom teachers to prepare written information.

The commissioner noted that Section 11.164 states that a classroom teacher may not be required to prepare any written information other than what is specifically identified in the statute.  Plano ISD argued that the statute permits the district to require a teacher to prepare any information specifically required by law, rule, or regulation.  The district further argued that the directive given to Ortiz was issued pursuant to TEA’s rule on Teachers in Need of Assistance, which states that an intervention plan may be developed at any time at the discretion of the certified appraiser when the certified appraiser has documentation that would potentially produce an evaluation rating of "below expectations" or "unsatisfactory."  19 Tex. Admin. Code § 150.1004(f).

The commissioner held that an intervention plan under Section 150.1004(f) is discretionary and therefore is not required by rule.  Because it is not required, such an intervention plan is not exempted from the prohibition of Section 11.164.

LAF filed a brief with the commissioner arguing that the Paperwork Reduction Act does not limit the administration’s authority to require written reports as part of a teacher’s growth plan.  The commissioner’s decision held that the portion of the intervention plan that required Ortiz to produce a written summary of what she learned from two rapport-building exercises and a reflection on how students responded to the activities was invalid because it violated Texas Education Code section 11.164.  Ortiz v. Plano Indep. Sch. Dist., Tex. Comm’r of Educ. Decision No. 014-R10-10 (May 23, 2014).  LAF’s Attorney: Kelli H. Karczewski, Karczewski | Bradshaw, L.L.P., Nacogdoches.