The Texas Education Agency (TEA) recently released guidance on Educator and Staff Issues during these times of uncertainty created by COVID-19.
Due to closures and alternate instructional models used across the state, some districts will be unable to complete their teacher appraisal process or parts of the appraisal process for the 2019–2020 school year. A waiver may be filed pursuant to the Commissioner’s general waiver authority for school districts and charter schools unable to meet the requirements for teacher, principal, and campus administrator appraisal.
It is up to a district to determine which aspects of the appraisal process they can complete and which, if any, cannot be completed due to operational disruptions from COVID-19. The district should document efforts to comply with educator appraisal requirements and identify and explain circumstances preventing compliance with unmet requirements in the waiver application.
As an example, due to circumstances related to COVID-19, a district would not be able to grant a request for a second observation, and the inability to do so should be covered under a waiver. As an alternative, the district could consider completing a second appraisal based on existing data.
Post-conferences and end-of-year conferences are not limited to an in-person setting. Some districts may be able to accomplish this aspect of the appraisal process by phone or video conference, while others may not. The waiver process provides an avenue for districts unable to comply with requirements.
A waiver may be filed using the Texas Education Agency Login (TEAL) application. If you do not have access to the waiver application, a district waiver editor or superintendent will have access to the waiver system. If there isn’t a district editor, the superintendent can designate an editor and request access from TEA for this individual. The State Waiver FAQ contains information on applying for a waiver.
Under normal circumstances all state waiver applications require board approval, and the application would include the date the board approved the waiver request. However, TEA has indicated that the Agency will accept a waiver request from a superintendent if the board has taken action to delegate authority to the superintendent to make the waiver request and the board ratifies the superintendent’s request at a future board meeting. A sample resolution can be found in TASB School Law eSource paper Emergency Delegation of Authority to Superintendent.
An appraisal process waiver falls under the waiver type “general” and the category “other.” Steps for completing the waiver can be found in Instructions for Submitting an Educator Appraisal Waiver.
More than likely, school districts can handle changes to the appraisal process as a result of COVID-19 through the waiver process. Districts may need to temporarily revise their procedures to reflect waiver requests. These procedural changes would then need to be communicated to district staff.
Karen Dooley is a senior HR consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Karen an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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