Winter 2014

Construction Defect Liability

Ewing Construction Company, Inc. (“Ewing”) entered into a contract with Tuloso-Midway Independent School District (“TMISD”), for construction of tennis courts. Soon after the tennis courts were completed, TMISD complained that the courts were cracking and flaking, rendering them unfit for playing tennis. TMISD filed suit against Ewing, the architect, and the structural engineer seeking damages for defective construction.

Read More

Bullying

In 2007, Montana Lance attended elementary school in Lewisville ISD. Montana received special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for emotional disturbance, learning disability, and a speech impairment. From 2007 to 2010, students bullied Montana and taunted him because of his speech impediment and harassed him by calling him gay. The court noted that the record showed the district took few, if any, steps to address these issues or alert his parents to them. After a confrontation in class, Montana was sent to the nurse’s office to be placed in ISS. In ISS, Montana requested to go to the nurse’s restroom, where he hanged himself.

Read More

Professional Capacity

Hermenia Jenkins served as an intermediate school principal in Crosby ISD since 2003. In June 2011, she was reassigned to the position of high school assistant principal. Jenkins filed a grievance complaining that her reassignment was an illegal change in her professional capacity and that the reassignment violated Texas Education Code section 11.202, 19 Texas Administrative Code section 150.1021, and policy DN(LOCAL), which required her to be the instructional leader of the campus.

Read More

Maintenance of Effort

The term “Maintenance of Effort,” or MOE, refers to the IDEA requirement that school districts, or local education agencies (LEAs), expend the same amount of local/state funding for special education and related services as it expended in the previous fiscal year. Rules related to an LEA’s MOE are found at 34 C.F.R. § 300.203. Failure to meet MOE requirements may result in the LEA losing eligibility to receive IDEA funding and requiring an LEA to repay funds to the state, which is required to send the funds to the U.S. Department of Education.

Read More

Common Core

In 2013, the Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 462, effective June 14, 2013. The bill relates, in part, to a school district’s use of the national curriculum standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative, commonly known as “Common Core.” The bill added subsection (b-3) to Texas Education Code section 28.002, which states that “[a] school district may not use common core state standards to comply with the requirement to provide instruction in the [Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS].”

Read More

Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

Are home school parents who allege a violation of the school laws of the state required to exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit against a school district and its employees?

Read More

Paperwork Reduction Act

Does requiring a teacher to write a report as part of a growth plan violate Texas Education Code section 11.164, which limits the paperwork a teacher can be required to prepare? Ortiz v. Plano Indep. Sch. Dist., Docket No. 014-R10-10-2012 (Tex. Comm’r of Educ. Proposal for Decision, May 10, 2013). LAF’s Attorney: Kelli H. Karczewski, Karczewski | Bradshaw, L.L.P., Nacogdoches.

Read More

Drought Rules

Does the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) have the authority to adopt and implement rules relating to “Suspension or Adjustment of Water Rights During Drought or Emergency Water Shortage?” Tex. Comm’n on Envtl. Quality v. Tex. Farm Bureau, No. 13-13-00415-CV (Thirteenth Court of Appeals—Corpus Christi—Edinburg) LAF’s Attorney: Amy M. Emerson, Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend, P.C., Austin.

Read More

Attorney-Client Privilege

Does a TEA monitor’s presence in closed board meeting discussions with a school board’s attorney destroy the attorney-client privilege or affect the confidentiality of attorney-client discussions? El Paso Educ. Initiative, Inc. d/b/a Burnham Wood Charter Sch. Dist. v. Tex. Educ. Agency, No. D-1-GN-13-001234 (Travis County District Court). LAF’s Attorney: William C. Bednar, of Counsel, Powell & Leon, LLP, Austin

Read More

Nonrenewal and Use of Physical Force

If a teacher’s use of physical force is one of several reasons for nonrenewal, does the immunity under Texas Education Code section 22.0512 (immunity for use of physical force against a student) protect her from all other reasons for nonrenewal unrelated to her use of force? Black v. Williams & Hart Indep. Sch. Dist., No. 07-13-00192-CV, Seventh Court of Appeals—Amarillo. LAF’s Attorney: Randall J. Cook, Hardy Cook & Hardy, P.C., Tyler.

Read More