FML for birth

Q: Can an employee whose significant other is expecting a baby take leave under FML?

A: An employee may take family medical leave (FML) for the birth of the child if he or she is the biological, adoptive, step-parent, foster parent, or someone who intends to take on the day-to-day responsibility for caring for the child or financially supporting the child (standing in loco parentis). Like all parents, the employee may take up to 12 weeks of FML for the birth of the child and to bond with a healthy newborn. Because the employee is not the spouse of the expectant mother he or she may not use FML to care for the mother should she be incapacitated due to pregnancy or to care for her while she recovers from the delivery. Additionally, he or she would not be required to share bonding time with the mother if both parents are employees of the district.

We address this question and several others in the new HR Library topic, “FAQs About Using Family Medical Leave for the Birth or Placement of a Child.” Members of HR Services can access the HR Library with their myTASB account.


Ready or not: T-TESS is here

As the 2016–2017 school year begins, so does the implementation of a new teacher appraisal system. Effective July 1, 2016, districts had to adopt the use of T-TESS (Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System) or a locally developed appraisal system that adheres to TEC § 21.352 and 19 TAC § 150.1007. 

Appraiser Requirements

A campus administrator (principal, assistant principal, administrator who holds a comparable SBEC administrator/supervisor certificate, or supervisory staff whose responsibilities include the appraisal of teachers and who is not a classroom teacher) may become a certified appraiser. Additionally, a teacher on a campus that serves in the capacity as a department chair or a grade-level chair and whose responsibilities include classroom observation responsibilities may appraise teachers at his or her campus. A teacher who is a certified appraiser but is not a department or grade-level chair may only appraise teachers at another campus.
 
To become a certified appraiser, an individual must satisfactorily complete the state-approved T-TESS training and pass the T-TESS certification examination. He or she also must have received Instructional Leadership Training (ILT), Instructional Leadership Development (ILD), or Advancing Education Leadership (AEL) certification. If an individual did not complete ILT or ILD before January 1, 2016, the only option is AEL. Unlike past leadership training, AEL provides support in the implementation of impactful strategies designed to improve instruction and student performance.  

Teacher Orientation

Within six weeks of completion of the T-TESS orientation, teachers in their first year of a T-TESS appraisal or who are new to a district must conference with an appraiser and submit a completed Goal-Setting and Professional Development Plan. In later years, a teacher will develop the Goal-Setting and Professional Development plan at the end of the school year, make adjustments to it at the beginning of the start of the next school year based on his or her assignment and submit it no later than the end of the first six weeks of school.
 
Teachers are required to maintain the Goal-Setting and Professional Development Plan throughout the course of the year and track progress in the attainment of goals and participation in professional development activities detailed in the approved plan. After the end-of-the-year conference, this information is used to determine ratings for the goal-setting and professional development dimensions of the T-TESS rubric.

Observation Requirements

During a full appraisal cycle, a teacher must have at least one 45-minute classroom observation. Additional walk-throughs and observations may occur at the discretion of the certified appraiser. If data from additional walk-throughs and observations will impact the teacher’s summative appraisal ratings, a written summary must be provided to the teacher within 10 working days after completion of the additional observation or walk-through. Walk-throughs and additional observations do not require a post-conference.  

Policy Implication

Policy DNA (LOCAL) should be updated to reflect local decisions about the new appraisal system. Policy DNA (LEGAL) was revised in Update 105. The local policy will be updated in response to a TASB Policy Service survey sent to the district’s policy contact in April. Considerations include:
  • Will the district implement T-TESS for all campuses, some of its campuses, or none of its campuses?
  • Will the district appraise teachers on a yearly basis or less-than-annual basis?
  • Which of the following criteria will be used if a district allows a less-than-annual appraisal?
    • Type of contract
    • Type of certification
    • Number of years employed by the district
    • Years served in current position
    • Years served on current campus
    • Years supervised by current principal 

HR’s Role

HR administrators can provide support to their district for the implementation of the new appraisal system through encouragement and resources. The TEA T-TESS resources webpage (https://teachfortexas.org/) provides access to items such as the appraisal calendar, description of the evaluation process, rubric training, and calibration videos. Even if you're an HR administrator who has not been trained in the new appraisal system, you can become more familiar with the process by visiting the site. 
 
The new appraisal system is a culture shift for educators in Texas. Staff might feel uncomfortable at first because T-TESS is very different from PDAS, and change can be difficult—even if it's for the better. As Socrates once said, “The secret to change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”


Small districts and ACA transition relief

A school district that averaged 50–99 full-time employees, including full-time equivalents, during 2014 may have claimed an exemption from the requirement to offer coverage and the affordability requirement under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) until the first day of the 2016 plan year. To take advantage of this exemption, the school district was required to satisfy certain conditions, including maintenance of workforce and maintenance of health coverage, and to certify its eligibility with the IRS in early 2016. [79 Fed. Reg. 8574 (Feb. 12, 2014)] Whether or not the district claimed this extension, the district should have complied with applicable ACA reporting requirements.

This transition relief applied to all calendar months of 2015, plus any calendar months of 2016 that fell within the district’s 2015 plan year. [79 Fed. Reg. 8574 (Feb. 12, 2014)] The shared responsibility requirements for this group of employers then went into effect the first day of the 2016 plan year, which for TRS Active Care districts was September 1, 2016.

Any districts that took advantage of this transition relief must now prepare to document an offer of affordable coverage to all eligible employees for each month of the 2016 plan year. For more information on this and other requirements under the ACA, see TASB Legal Services resources available here



HR Extras

By the numbers: Public opinion of school trends

A report from Education Next revealed some enlightening statistics about public opinion of various education topics. We highlighted a few that may be most relevant to public school district personnel in Texas.

60—Percentage of the public that supports basing part of teacher salary on how much their students learn
2013—Since this year, public support for teacher tenure has decreased by 10 percentage points, down to 31 percent
25—Percentage of the public that would grade their local public schools with an A or B
3—The number of states in which more than 1 percent of teachers received an unsatisfactory rating on their evaluation
61—Percentage of the public that favors an increase in per-pupil expenditures
4—Out of five respondents support the federal requirement that all students be tested in math and reading in each grade from 3rd through 8th and once in high school
77—Percentage of the public that opposes letting parents opt their children out of state tests
65—Percentage of the public that believes teachers should receive a salary boost
 
To see the full results of the study, check out Education Next’s website

New I-9 Coming Soon 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will publish a revised Form I-9 by November 22, 2016. Districts may continue to use the current version of the form, which has a revision date of 03/08/2013, until the new form goes into effect on January 21, 2017. After that date all previous versions of Form I-9 will not be valid.


Inside HR Services

Sixth Annual Texas Education Human Resources Day

Governor Greg Abbott has declared October Human Resources Awareness Month. In the press release announcing the recognition, the Governor said, “Across our great state, human resources professionals play a vital role in businesses, organizations, and government agencies. Through the wide range of vital services they provide—recruiting new talent, ensuring compliance with labor laws, educating Texans about health and safety, providing ethics training and more—human resources professionals are invaluable assets, not only to their employers, but to our society as a whole.”

For the past five years, the Governor’s office had also proclaimed a day in mid-October as Texas Education Human Resources Day. While the Governor did not designate the day this year, the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators has declared October 12 as Texas Education Human Resources Day. 

HR Services is preparing a sample board resolution and a certificate template that can be used to honor your HR staff. An email will be sent to our primary contacts, superintendents, and information officers as soon as these are complete.

Watch your mail for HR Services membership invoices

Membership renewal invoices were sent to program contacts in August. Our membership year runs from Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017. Be sure to renew your membership and process payment by Oct. 1 so you don’t lose access to critical resources including the HR Library, DataCentral, and the Model Employee Handbook, to name a few.