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Overview of Texas Laws, Class notes Dr. William Kritsonis

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Title: Overview of Texas Laws, Class notes Dr. William Kritsonis


1
AN OVERVIEW OF EDUCATION LAW, TEXAS SCHOOLS, AND
PARENT RIGHTS
  • William Allan Kritsonis, PhD

2
Constitutional Law
  • Power over education is a state function as
    declared by the 10th Amendment of the
    Constitution.
  • By 1918 all states have compulsory school laws.
  • States do not have to set up public school
    systems.
  • 1973 San Antonio I.S.D. v. Rodriguez the US
    Supreme Court decided that education is not a
    fundamental right available to all persons.

3
Statutory Law
  • A statute is a law enacted by a legislative body.
    Most statutes passed by the Texas Legislature
    that directly affect education are grouped
    together in the Texas Education Code (TEC).
  • The Code is an important source of law because it
    applies to the daily operation of schools,
    detailing the responsibilities and duties of the
    State Board of Education (SBOE), the Texas
    Education Agency (TEA), school boards, charter
    schools, and school personnel.

4
Administrative Law
  • Administrative law consists of the rules,
    regulations, and decisions that are issued by
    administrative bodies to implement state and
    federal statutory laws.
  • Administrative law also includes the rules and
    regulations that state agencies establish to
    carry out their responsibilities. In the
    education context, this responsibility lies with
    the State Board of Education and the Texas
    Commissioner of Education.

5
Judicial Law
  • Judicial law is composed of state and federal
    court decisions.
  • Composition of the Texas Judiciary System
  • District courts are the major trial courts in the
    state judicial system, having jurisdiction over
    major criminal and civil matters.
  • From a district court, an appeal goes to one of
    the fourteen courts located throughout the state,
    and finally to the Texas Supreme Court.
  • An appeal from a Travis County district court
    goes to the Third Court of Appeals in Austin.
  • The Third Court, by virtue of its jurisdiction
    over appeals from the district courts of Travis
    County, has great influence over the development
    of educational and other public law matters.
  • Only the Texas Supreme Court can speak for the
    entire state in civil matters.
  • For criminal matters, the highest court is the
    Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
  • Texas has two supreme courts, one for civil
    matters and one for criminal matters.

6
THE STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE OF THE TEXAS SCHOOL
SYSTEM
  • TEXAS LEGISLATURE
  • The Texas legislature is responsible for the
    structure and operation of the Texas public
    school system.
  • STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION (http//www.tea.state.tx.
    us/sboe/ )
  • The SBOE is a powerful entity its designated
    duties are establishing a state curriculum and
    graduation requirements, determining the standard
    for satisfactory student performance on
    assessment instruments, adopting and purchasing
    state textbooks, and investing the permanent
    school funds.

7
THE STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE OF THE TEXAS SCHOOL
SYSTEM
  • THE TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY (www.tea.state.tx.us)
  • Other than the legislature, the most powerful
    state-level player is the Texas Commissioner of
    Education, whom the governor appoints and removes
    with the advice and consent of the Texas Senate.
    The commissioner serves a four year term and the
    only qualification for serving as commissioner is
    US citizenship. The commissioner also serves as
    the executive officer and executive secretary of
    the State Board of Education

8
THE STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE OF THE TEXAS SCHOOL
SYSTEM
  • Local School Districts
  • The governance of schools clearly is left to
    local boards of trustees.
  • School board trustees serve a term of 3 or 4
    years. The members terms are staggering. A
    person must be an eligible voter to be qualified
    for office as a trustee. Trustees serve without
    compensation. The state board is required to
    provide a training program for school board
    members through the regional service centers.
    Other training programs are offered through
    professional associations such as the Texas
    Association of School Boards (TASB)
    http//www.tasb.org/.

9
THE STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE OF THE TEXAS SCHOOL
SYSTEM
  • Private Schools
  • In a 1925 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled
    that the states cannot require all children to
    attend public schools only (Pierce v. Society of
    Sisters).

10
HOW THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
AFFECT TEXAS SCHOOLS
  • Key Provisions of the U.S. Constitution
  • The Bill of Rights of the US Constitution- where
    most of our basic civil liberties are included.
    The First Amendment is particularly important,
    for it lists several liberties inherent in a
    democratic society the right to be free from
    governmental control in the exercise of speech,
    publication, religious preference, and assembly
    (these only apply to the federal government.)
  • The fourteenth amendmentnor shall any State
    deprive any person of life, liberty, or property
    without due process of law, nor deny to any
    person within its jurisdiction the equal
    protection of the laws. These two clauses
    together with the federal laws that implement
    them, provide the basis for constitutional rights
    suits against public educational institutions and
    personnel.
  • The fourteenth amendment applies to school
    districts and personnel because they are viewed
    as political subdivisions of the state the
    fourteenth amendment does not apply to private
    schools.

11
HOW THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
AFFECT TEXAS SCHOOLS
  • Important Federal Statutes
  • Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits
    intentional discrimination with respect to race,
    color, or national origin in federally assisted
    programs. This law was instrumental in the
    desegregation of schools during the 60s and
    70s.
  • Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits
    discrimination on the basis of race, color,
    religion, sex, or national origin in all aspects
    of public and private employment. This law
    allows money damages for intentional
    discrimination.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 accords
    persons with disabilities meaningful access to
    the programs and facilities of public and private
    schools as well as most businesses in the
    country. The statue also prohibits
    discrimination against persons with disabilities
    in pubic and private employment, and requires
    employers to make reasonable accommodation for
    disabled persons to enable them to perform the
    job. Money damages are available for intentional
    discrimination.

12
HOW THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
AFFECT TEXAS SCHOOLS
  • Important Federal Statutes
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
    requires public schools to identify children with
    disabilities and provide them a free, appropriate
    public education in the least restrictive
    environment.
  • Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments
    prohibits discrimination against persons on the
    basis of sex in any federally assisted education
    program. Title IX has gained major significance
    in the context of student and employee sexual
    harassment.
  • No Child Left Behind attempts to raise student
    achievement levels by holding states and school
    districts to strict accountability standards.
    Each state must ensure that students make
    adequate yearly progress so that all students
    will be performing at grade level by the year
    2013-2014.

13
HOW THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
AFFECT TEXAS SCHOOLS
  • School Finance
  • With growth, an imbalance between urban and rural
    districts became apparent. With the enactment of
    the Gilmer-Aikin Bill in 1949 did reform occur.
    This bill later became the focus of San Antonio
    ISD v. Rodriguez. The bill established a Minimum
    Foundation Program (MFP), through which state
    funds for personnel and operations were
    distributed and established a minimum below which
    no state could go. The MFP involved both local
    and state contributions to a special fund 80
    from the state, the rest from local districts.
    Each local district had to levy a property tax to
    support its contribution. Inequities continued
    because local districts remained free to enrich
    their contributions for their schools beyond the
    MFP local fund assignment.
  • The plaintiffs in the San Antonio ISD v.
    Rodriguez lawsuit tried to convince the courts
    that this system of educational finance violated
    the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth
    Amendment. The 3 judge federal district court
    agreed, but the US Supreme Court did not.

14
HOW THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
AFFECT TEXAS SCHOOLS
  • Parent Rights
  • While constitutional law generally does not
    support parent rights in public schooling, Texas
    statutory law provides significant support for
    parents. The first objective of the public
    education system is that Parents will be full
    partners with educators in the education of their
    children.
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