HFT Know Your Rights

Resources for Know Your Rights:

POLICIES AND LAW YOU NEED TO KNOW

Due Process of Law:

For probationary and continuing contract teachers, the provisions of due process are clearly spelled out in the 21.101-21.307 Sections of the Texas Education Code. Basically, due process guarantees that in any disciplinary matter, someone must observe you in violation. In a school, this person must be the principal. Once you are observed, you must be notified in writing within ten (10) days that the problem exists. You must be given an opportunity to remediate the situation. If action is being taken against you, you have the right to a hearing with all those present who are bringing charges against you. You have the right to legal representation at any level that a complaint is being filed. If you are being treated in a manner that violates Board Policy or state law, you have the right to present a grievance. Chapter 617 of the Government Code guarantees all public employees the right to present grievances concerning their wages, hours, or conditions of employment.

Freedom to Teach:

“The Board of Trustees of each school district shall adopt and strictly enforce a policy limiting interruptions of classes during the school day for non-academic activities such as announcements and sales promotions. At a minimum, the policy must limit announcements other than emergency announcements to once during the school day.”

Personal and Political Freedom

“It is declared to be the public policy of the State of Texas that no person shall be denied public employment by reason for membership or non-membership in a labor organization.”

Government Code Section 617.004

“(a) A school district board of trustees or school district employee may not directly or indirectly require or coerce any teacher to join any group, club, committee, organization, or association. (b) A school district board of trustees or school district employee may not directly or indirectly coerce any teacher to refrain from participation in political affairs in the teacher’s community, state or nation.”

Texas Education Code, Section 21.407

“All employees of HISD shall have liberty of political action when not engaged actively in their employment, provided that such action does not impair their usefulness in their respective capacities.”

“All employees shall be free from political coercion, or the pretended necessity or making political contributions of money, or other things of value, or engaging in any political work or activity against their wishes under the false assumption that failure to do so will in any way affect their status as employees of HISD.

“All employees are, however forbidden to use school property during school hours for any political party activities or political efforts related to the election of public officials.”

“Use of political material for instructional purposes in the classroom is not forbidden, but each teacher must be accountable that the presentation is open-minded, fair, responsible, and respectful of the differing opinions of others. Each teacher must also be sure that the material presented has a legitimate relationship to the unit under study.”

“No school district, Board of Education, superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal, or other administrator shall directly or indirectly coerce any teacher to refrain from participating in political affairs in his community, state, or nation.”

HISD Board Policies

Avoiding Pitfalls

 

  • *Allow yourself ample time for the commute to school, especially during inclement weather.
  • *Do not “Friend” students on your personal Facebook page. 
  • *Do not put anything in writing for the school administration until you discuss it with your Building Representative and/or Staff Representative.
  • *Never use corporal punishment.
  • *Never place your hands on a student, whether to discipline or console.
  • *Never force a confrontation. Give the student(s) options to calm the situation.
  • *Having a problem with a co-worker? Resolve it quietly away from students, possibly with a mediator.
  • *Always preview (and get permission from your principal) a video for profane language, sexual content, and/or violence before showing it to students.
  • *Avoid telling “off-color” jokes or stories that may be misconstrued.
  • *Be cautious about sharing your personal life with students. • Don’t socialize with students outside of school-related events.
  • *Never transport a student(s) in your car.
  • *Discourage students from hugging you or becoming too familiar.
  • *Never invite students to your home.
  • *If an injury occurs in your classroom: – Send the student to the nurse, or – Send the student to the school office if there is no nurse on duty, and – Write a clear statement of what happened for your records, and – Get a statement from an adult who witnessed the injury.
  • *Avoid remaining alone with a student. If tutoring or supervising students, schedule two or more students at the same time.
  • *If you are accused of abuse, do not attempt to contact the accuser or his/her parents. Contact your HFT Staff Representative at 713-623-8891.
  • *Keep anecdotal records on severe behavior problems including contacts with school support personnel, parents, administrators, etc.

 


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