Unsubscribing to inactive employees' fingerprint information

by April Mabry

Q: Is the district required to remove access to an inactive employee’s information in the fingerprint clearinghouse?

A: When a district checks the criminal history of an applicant or employee through the Fingerprint-based Applicant Clearinghouse of Texas (FACT), it subscribes to that individual’s information. This allows the district access to the individual’s record and to receive electronic updates if the criminal history record changes (i.e., if the employee is arrested or charged with a crime).
When the arrest of a person the district is subscribed to is reported to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), an e-mail notification of an update is sent to the district. The district must sign into the FACT Website and review the notice. Prior to viewing the undated criminal history record information, the district must verify the person is still an employee and the district is still authorized to receive the update. The district can proceed to review or unsubscribe from the record.
The district also has the option to go to the FACT Website and unsubscribe from an individual’s criminal history whenever a person leaves. This ensures updates for that individual are no longer sent. An individual will remain on the district’s FACT list of employees but will be inactive. If the person returns to the district, the record can be re-activated. This feature is intended to assist with managing the background check requirements of seasonal employees.
Districts should set up procedures to ensure unsubscribing is done whenever an employee departs. This step is included on the Sample Employee Separation Checklist in the HR Library (myTASB login required).
The district also should ensure access rights for any authorized user who no longer is employed or needs to access FACT is terminated. This, along with unsubscribing from individuals’ information, will ensure compliance with DPS’ strict rules regarding access to fingerprint-based criminal history information.
Additional information about subscribing and unsubscribing to FACT should be directed to the DPS Fingerprinting Unit at 512-424-2365 or by e-mail: fingerprint.services@txdps.state.tx.us.


McAllen ISD offering ESL classes for auxiliary employees

by Zach DiSchiano
McAllen ISD is located in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, an area where a substantial portion of auxiliary employees speak only Spanish or a small amount of English.
In an effort to promote professional development and improve safety through communication, McAllen ISD began offering English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to transportation employees in late March. The classes are available through the Adult Education Department at the Region One Education Service Center (ESC), a partner of the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) program.
The classes are two hours long, offered Mondays and Wednesdays in the morning and evening. The curriculum is designed by the Adult Education Department and is tailored specifically to the needs of the district. 

Tailored to employee needs

LeeRoy Corkill, Adult Education Program administrator, said the curriculum is designed to help workers with their day-to-day jobs.
“For that particular class, what we do is work with the employer, at least initially, to determine what work skills they feel are necessary for their employees,” he said. “If it’s the transportation department, they may have certain skills, certain vocabulary, that type of thing that will help them on a day-to-day basis with their jobs.”
Their curriculum also helps to develop other skills in addition to speaking English, Corkill said.
“From there, we try to expand into other areas as well because we have a full-fledged ESL curriculum that works on not only oral language development but reading, writing skills, digital literacy, and so on,” he said.
There are a multitude of AEL programs throughout the state, sorted by the 28 TWC service areas. ESC Region One’s Adult Education Department serves the Lower Rio Grande Valley area, which includes Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy counties.
McAllen ISD isn’t the only district that has offered ESL classes to auxiliary workers. Many other districts have participated in AEL workplace programs under grant initiatives.
“We actually have had partnerships with other school districts,” Corkill said. “Sharyland ISD, for example—we did similar classes with them. It’s kind of new to our program. We introduced it last year and we’ve expanded a little bit more on it and we hope to continue to expand and keep doing more and more for these students [employees].”

Recruiting and retention

Melissa Ramirez, human resources administrator for ESC Region One, said she sees the potential for long-term HR impact from the program.
“I see this as a recruitment and retention tool, because employees would want to work at a place that values them so much that they help them learn another language,” Ramirez said.
With AEL partners available at TWC service areas all across the state, districts from just about anywhere can find a program for their employees. Texas has approximately seven million residents who speak Spanish at home, and that number is expected to continue rising for the foreseeable future. Districts can get ahead by putting ESL programs in place now to serve current Spanish-speaking employees and the ones yet to come.


5 facts about today's teacher workforce

By Zach DiSchiano
A new report on teacher demographics, backgrounds, experience, and work locations found that today’s teaching force is larger, more diverse, and less experienced than ever.
The report, conducted by Richard Ingersoll, a professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, and Lisa Merrill of New York University's Research Alliance for New York City Schools, studied the U.S. teacher workforce from 1987 to 2012 and found the number of teachers has grown significantly during the 25-year stretch.
Below are five takeaways from the report:

  1. The workforce is growing rapidly
    • The teacher workforce grew by 46 percent from 1987 to 2012. Female teachers increased by 56 percent, while males saw just a 22 percent growth, meaning the profession continues to be dominated by women.
  2. ESL and special education jobs have exploded
    • The number of ESL teachers has increased by 1,088 percent in the past 25 years, while special education teachers have nearly doubled (92 percent increase).
  3. Teachers are less experienced
    • In the last 25 years, the number of beginning teachers (those with five or fewer years experience) has grown by 43 percent. Public school teachers are more experienced than private school teachers—of the beginning teachers, 21 percent work in public schools while 27 percent work in private schools. 
  4. The workforce is becoming more diverse
    • There are more than 650,000 minority teachers—a 104 percent increase from 1988. The number of Asian teachers increased by 209 percent, while the number of Hispanic teachers saw a 270 percent increase. The number of black teachers increased by 25 percent.
  5. High-poverty schools saw the biggest growth in teachers
    • In schools where at least 75 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, the teaching force has increased by approximately 325 percent. The number of teachers working in low-poverty public schools decreased by 20 percent.
The report analyzed nationwide trends, so the numbers could differ slightly from the workforce in Texas. We do know there is a great demand for ESL and bilingual teachers across the state and the number of bilingual and ESL teachers grows as Texas student enrollment grows. 

The report on changes in the U.S. teacher workforce used the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Schools and Staffing Survey to analyze changes in the elementary and secondary teaching force during the 1987–2012 time frame. For more information on the report, click here.

HR Extras

Commissioner issues clarification on T-TESS measures

All major components of the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) remain in place following a legal agreement with various teacher organizations in the state, according to Commissioner of Education Mike Morath.

The organizations, which include the Texas State Teachers Association and the Texas American Federation of Teachers, filed separate lawsuits to block Morath from putting the evaluation system in place. Under T-TESS, a portion of the teachers’ evaluation must be tied to student STAAR results.

Student growth will remain part of statutorily-required teacher appraisal systems in either the state-recommended system or a locally-developed system a school district may wish to adopt.

A TEA news release last week stated the Commissioner wants to ensure districts know they can pursue any valid student growth measure they choose and the references to the four ways to measure student growth will be removed from rule to make that explicitly clear. Districts can track growth however they want, as long as it’s measured.

For more information, read the most recent TEA release on teacher evaluations.

USCIS begins issuing redesigned Green Cards

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a redesign to the Permanent Resident Card—also known as a Green Card—as  well as the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). These changes come as part of the Next Generation Secure Identification Document Project.

In the new design, the card displays the individual’s photos on both sides and shows a unique graphic image and color palette. There’s an image of the Statue of Liberty and a predominately green palette. EAD cards will have an image of a bald eagle in a mostly red palette.

The card also has embedded holographic images and no longer displays the individual’s signature.

USCIS began issuing the new cards on May 1. For more information, visit the USCIS Website.

TASPA Executive Director Rose Benitez steps down

After two years serving as the Executive Director of TASPA, Rose Benitez announced last week her decision to step down from her role in September.

Interested candidates can find information on how to apply for the vacancy here. The anticipated start date for the position is mid-September of this year.

Bills to watch

SB 1886 (Bettencourt) creates a new office of inspector general within the TEA responsible for the investigation, prevention, and detection of criminal misconduct and wrongdoing and of fraud, waste, and abuse in the administration of public education by school districts, open-enrollment charter schools, regional education service centers, and other local education agencies in this state.

SB 7 (Bettencourt) broadens those employees subject to educator misconduct related to improper relationships between educators and students and reporting of educator misconduct, creates a criminal offense and expands the applicability of an existing offense, and authorizes an administrative penalty. The bill applies the misconduct standards to individuals in schools who may not hold certificates or provide educational services at all. The bill also requires superintendents (or directors in certain circumstances) to report any instance of an educator who is terminated when there is evidence that misconduct occurred. Read the bill or its summary and view the House amendments. The bill now goes to the governor to sign, let it become law without his signature, or veto.
HB 3563 (Koop) requires notice to a parent or guardian regarding a teacher who does not meet certification requirements at the grade level and subject area in which the teacher is assigned instead of requiring notice if a teacher is not highly qualified. Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano) explained that the bill seeks to reduce duplicative reporting in the wake of the shift from No Child Left Behind to the Every Student Succeeds Act.