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 three short years ago, districts were making the news when they decided to pursue becoming a district of innovation (DOI). A previous HRX article, Districts of Innovation and HR, reported only 80 districts across the state had proposed or approved exemptions to the Texas Education Code as of February 2017.
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 reference back to it as needed. It’s important to know the details of your plan and understand implications for HR. The HR impact of the common exemptions is included in our 2017 article.
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.
Keith McLemore is an HR and compensation consultant at TASB HR Services. Send Keith an email at keith.mclemore@tasb.
Stay up to date with all the latest HR news and trends by joining the HRX mailing list!