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Legislative Update from the 88th Regular Session: Personnel Issues

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School districts serving K-12 students need to be aware of several personnel-related bills passed during the 88th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature.

Summaries of the bills impacting human resources related to various personnel issues are provided below.

CROWN Act (House Bill (HB) 567)

The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act prohibits discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles associated with an individual’s racial, ethnic, or cultural identity. The Act specifically targets discrimination against hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists, which are commonly or historically associated with race.

In light of this new legislation, HR should ensure dress code and grooming policies and other discrimination statements prohibit discrimination or harassment based on natural hair or hairstyles. Employers should also consider providing resources to educate employees and managers about the CROWN Act, create an inclusive environment, and address complaints promptly.

Effective September 1, 2023.

Nepotism Exception for Bus Drivers (HB 1789)

The exception for hiring bus drivers who are related to a school official has been expanded to apply to any district, not just those in a county with a population of less than 35,000. The bill permits school districts to hire relatives of the superintendent or board members as a bus driver so long as the board approves the individual’s appointment or employment. Board approval adds steps to the hiring process, but the bill provides options to help relieve the school bus driver shortage in larger districts.

Effective September 1, 2023.

Teacher Planning and Noninstructional Duties (HB 1605)

A school district may enter into a supplemental agreement with a teacher to perform a duty relating to initial lesson plan design or instructional material selection that isn’t assigned to all classroom teachers of the same subject and grade level under those teachers’ employment contracts. The language of the bill is permissive and does not require the district to enter into any such agreement. Without an agreement, there are no changes to current practices or contract language.

If the district enters into a supplemental agreement related to initial lesson plan design or instructional material selection unrelated to providing instruction for a greater number of duties than assigned to another full-time teacher of the same grade level in the district, the agreement must explicitly state each of the teacher’s duties unrelated to providing instruction. Effective with 2024-2025 school year.

The bill also provides that a classroom teacher may not be subject to disciplinary proceedings for an allegation the teacher violated Texas Education Code (TEC) § 28.0022 if the teacher used only approved instructional materials maintained by the State Board of Education (SBOE) and adopted by the district. Effective June 13, 2023.

Prekindergarten Teacher Requirements (HB 2729)

This bill adds an additional option for a teacher to meet the requirements to teach a high-quality prekindergarten class. In addition to existing qualification requirements, a high-quality prekindergarten teacher is qualified if the teacher is certified under Chapter 21 of TEC and has an associate or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. This bill also allows a person with SBEC certification and at least eight years’ experience teaching in a Texas Rising Star Program to qualify as a high-quality prekindergarten teacher.

This bill specifies that high-quality prekindergarten teachers provided by a contracted entity are required to have one of the following qualifications:

  • Two years’ experience teaching in a Texas Rising Star Program or a nationally accredited childcare program and an early childhood education credential approved either by TEA or an accredited Montessori certification
  • An associate or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field
  • A minimum of eight years’ experience teaching in an accredited childcare program or a Texas Rising Star Program
  • Employment as a teacher in a district with a prekindergarten instructional training plan
  • An equivalent qualification

The bill requires each teacher in an entity with which a school district contracts with to be supervised by a high-quality certified teacher with the required qualifications in TEC § 29.167(b). A supervisor is authorized to supervise multiple classrooms and will ensure compliance with programming, support classroom instruction, the developmental needs of students, and continuous quality improvement. Provisions relating to qualifications of prekindergarten teachers for contracting entities expire on September 1, 2029.

This bill adds prekindergarten classes provided by a contracted entity to the provision stating that districts must attempt to maintain an average teacher to student ratio of not less than one qualified teacher or teacher’s aide for each 11 students.

Effective September 1, 2023, and applies beginning with the 2023-2024 school year.

Temporary Certificate for Military Members and First Responders (HB 621)

This bill requires SBEC to create rules for issuing a temporary career and technology education (CTE) certificate to certain first responders and military personnel if they meet specified alternate requirements. The bill applies to a person seeking CTE certification who was honorably discharged, retired, or released from active-duty service in the U.S. Armed Forces or who served as a first responder and retired, resigned, or separated from employment while in good standing. First responder is defined as a peace officer, fire protection personnel, and emergency medical services personnel.

Under the SBEC rules, the temporary certificate issued will be valid for a maximum of three years, be issued only one time, and not be eligible for renewal.

The bill allows a person to substitute 48 months of military or first responder services and 60 credit hours at an institute of higher education with at least a 2.0 GPA for the requirement for a bachelor’s degree.

Unless the employee has experience as an instructor or trainer during the person’s service in the military or as a first responder, the school district must require the person employed under this temporary certificate be trained in classroom management for at least twenty hours. This bill requires school districts to assign a mentor teacher to a classroom teacher with a temporary certificate under this law for at least two years.

Effective September 1, 2023.

Continuing Education for Teachers and School Counselors (HB 2929)

This bill provides clarity to the application of the 25 percent cap on professional education required of classroom teachers every five years for certificate renewal. Current law states that continuing education requirements for teachers must provide that training in the topics specified by law not constitute more than 25 percent of required training every five years. As amended, this bill clarifies that the continuing education requirements may not mandate more than 25 percent of training be in specified topics, but if a teacher receives instruction in the specified topics in excess of 25 percent of the required training, that continuing education must be counted towards the overall training requirements. 

This bill removes the 25 percent cap on counselors’ continuing professional education and provides that continuing education requirements for a counselor must provide that at least 25 percent of the training required every five years include the topics specified in law.

Effective June 10, 2023.

School Counselor Qualifications (SB 798)

The requirement for a school counselor to have experience as a classroom teacher in order to qualify for certification is removed. SBEC is required to adopt rules by January 1, 2024.

Effective September 1, 2023.

School Chaplains (SB 763)

This bill is allows, rather than requires, districts to employ or accept chaplains as volunteers. Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, chaplains can provide students support, services, and programs assigned by the school board or governing body of an open enrollment charter school (OECS). SBEC will not require certification for chaplains employed or volunteering under this law.

School districts and OECS accepting chaplains under this law must ensure that the chaplain complies with applicable criminal history background check requirements prior to working or volunteering at the district or school. This bill specifies that a district or OECS may not hire or accept a person as a chaplain who has been convicted of or placed on deferred adjudication for an offense requiring sex offender registration.

This bill includes a requirement that each school board and each governing body of an OECS take a record vote by March 1, 2024, on whether to adopt a policy authorizing the employment of a chaplain or acceptance of a volunteer chaplain.

Effective September 1, 2023.

Specialty License Plates for Teachers (HB 108)

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is required to issue two new specialty license plates, one for classroom teachers and one for retired classroom teachers with 20 years of service. Classroom teachers, as defined by TEC § 5.001, means an educator who is employed by a school district and who, not less than an average of four hours each day, teaches in an academic instructional setting or a career and technology instructional setting. The term does not include a teacher’s aide or a full-time administrator.

The DMV, in consultation with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), will design these license plates. 

Effective September 1, 2023.

Addition Information

Additional information on changes as a result of the 88th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature in the areas below is available in the following HRX articles:

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April Mabry
April Mabry
Best Practices: Salary Notification Letters

April Mabry oversees HR Services training services, member library products, and the HRX newsletter. She has provided HR training and guidance to Texas public schools  since 1991. Mabry was a classroom teacher for 11 years in Texas and Michigan.

Mabry has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and certification as a professional in human resources (PHR) and is a SHRM-CP.

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