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Majority of Districts Adopt Innovation Plans

Teacher's desk with letter blocks, colored pencils, and a stack of books with an apple on top.

According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website, eighty-five percent of districts (875) have been designated as Innovation Districts or have plans to implement a plan in the near future.

Just a few short years ago, districts were making the news when they decided to pursue becoming a district of innovation (DOI). Only 80 districts across the state had proposed or approved exemptions to the Texas Education Code as of February 2017.

DOI Provisions

DOIs have the flexibility to implement practices similar to charter schools. Common exemptions continue to include:

  • School start/calendar changes
  • Teacher certification requirements
  • Educator appraisal
  • Probationary contract period
  • Teacher contract days

Districts can exempt themselves from numerous provisions, but there are still some hard and fast rules that can’t be eliminated in a DOI. These include:

  • Criminal history record checks and educator misconduct reporting
  • Certification for teachers of students promoted by a grade placement committee
  • Student assessments
  • Reporting of improper relationships between employees and students
  • Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) reporting
  • Certification for special education and bilingual teachers

It is worth noting that districts may not use an innovation plan to seek exemption from a requirement imposed by a state or federal program in which the district voluntarily participates. A detailed list of off-limit exemptions can be found in Chapter 102 of Title 19 Texas Administrative Code.

Implementing Plan Details

Local plans should be posted on the district website. HR administrators should review their DOI plan and refer back to it as needed. It’s important to know the details of your plan and understand the implications for HR. 

Looking to the Future

While DOIs were initially slow to catch on, they are likely here to stay. As such, everyone working under a DOI plan would be wise to become familiar with their own plan to take advantage of its possibilities. Additional information and related guidance can also be found in TASB’s School Law eSource.

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Keith McLemore
Keith McLemore
HR and Compensation Consultant

Keith McLemore joined HR Services in 2015 and assists districts with compensation planning and development. He has 17 years of experience traveling the state supporting public education employees.

McLemore received a bachelor’s degree from Southwestern University and a master’s degree from Texas Tech University, both with a focus on research analysis and design. He is a SHRM-CP.

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TASB HR Services supports HR leadership in Texas schools through membership offerings in specialized training, consulting, and other services.
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