New Education Laws Affecting Educators 

Effective September 1, 2019

School Finance
House Bill 3 by Rep. Dan Huberty and Sen. Larry Taylor makes a sizable infusion of $4.5 billion into the public education system. It increases the basic allotment from $5,140 to $6,160.

Teacher Raises: Districts will be required to give at least 30% of the per-pupil increase they receive to raises for full-time district employees. Of that 30% of new money, 75% of it must be for teachers, nurses, counselors, and librarians, while prioritizing differentiated compensation for classroom teachers with more than five years’ experience. 

All Other Employees: The remaining 25% of the per-pupil increase may be used for full-time employees as determined by the district. That remaining amount should be designated to support professionals, but again, it’s up to the districts to decide.

Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 3: Provides an early-education allotment for economically disadvantaged students and English language learners that can be used to fund full-day prekindergarten for eligible students and for professional development for early education teachers to get kids reading on grade level by third grade.

Increased funding is also provided for students with dyslexia, students receiving special education services, and those being served in residential treatment facilities.

Recapture (Robin Hood payments): HB 3 reduces it by $3.6 billion statewide for the biennium, meaning local districts can keep more of their local tax dollars instead of the state taking these local funds to make up for state neglect of public schools.

Employment Rights
House Bill 621 by Rep. Victoria Neave and Sen. Judith Zaffirini prohibits an “Adverse employment action” against an employee for making a report of abuse or neglect. “Adverse employment action” means an action that affects an employee’s compensation, promotion, transfer, work assignment, or performance evaluation, or any other employment action that would dissuade a reasonable employee from making a report.

House Bill 4310 by Rep. Harold Dutton requires a district to ensure sufficient time is provided for teachers to teach and students to learn the essential knowledge and skills for each subject and grade level when the district adopts a scope and sequence for a subject. The school district may not penalize a teacher who does not follow a recommended or designated scope and sequence for a subject based on the teacher’s determination that the teacher’s students need more or less time in a specific area to demonstrate proficiency in the essential knowledge and skills for that subject and grade level.

Senate Bill 2073 by Sen. Larry Taylor and Sen. Royce West states if a district reduces its number of instructional days, it may decrease required workdays proportionately, with no reduction in salary.

Student Mental Health and School Safety
Senate Bill 11 by Sen. Larry Taylor provides $110 million to improve safety infrastructure on campuses, employ more school resource officers, to create emergency plans for schools, and to identify kids in crisis.

House Bill 3 also requires schools to report certain allegations of misconduct against non-certified employees and it requires TEA to create a registry of individuals who are not eligible for hire in a Texas public school based on misconduct or criminal history. 

House Bill 18 by Rep. Four Price provides funding and training to schools across the state to bolster mental health offerings.

House Bill 906 by Rep. Senfronia Thompson establishes a task force on mental health services provided by public schools, including charters.

House Bill 1143 by Cole Hefner prohibits a school district from regulating the manner in which a handgun, firearm, or ammunition is stored in a vehicle on school property.

House Bill 1387 by Rep. Cole Hefner and Sen. Brandon Creighton is not a safety bill, but an “unsafety” bill. It removes the current limit of school marshals, who may carry guns on campus with little training, in the name of school safety. 

Standardized Testing
Senate Bill 213 by Sen. Kel Seliger re-authorizes the use of individual graduation committees (IGC) through September 1, 2023. An IGC may determine whether a student qualifies to graduate if the student has not performed satisfactorily on state assessments otherwise required for graduation. This law makes clear that standardized tests do not accurately measure students, who may demonstrate high performance in other areas of the curriculum.

Student Discipline
House Bill 692 by Rep. James White and Gene Wu prohibits the out-of-school suspension of homeless students unless the student engages in certain behaviors while on school property or while attending a school-sponsored or school-related activity on or off school property.

House Bill 811 by Reps. White and Wu requires a student’s status in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services or a student’s status as a student who is homeless to be considered to determine what is in the best interest of the student before ordering a suspension, removal to a disciplinary alternative education program (DAEP), expulsion, or placement in a juvenile justice alternative education program (JJAEP).

Senate Bill 1306 by Lois Kolkhorst requires school districts to post the name of the campus behavior coordinator on the district’s website. If a district is a “District of Innovation” and exempt from having a campus behavior coordinator, the name of the campus administrator designated as being responsible for student discipline must be posted on the website.

House Bill 2184 by Rep. Alma Allen requires a transition plan for students being released from a DAEP, JJAEP, or a juvenile detention center. Schools must create a “personalized transition plan” developed by the campus administrator and other specified persons.

House Bill 3012 by James Talarico requires a school district to provide an alternative means of receiving all foundation curriculum coursework for students who miss class as a result of an in-school or out-of-school suspension.

House Bill 3630 by Rep. Morgan Meyer and Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., prohibits the use of extreme behavioral interventions such as electric shock, noxious sprays or gases, or interventions that impair a student’s breathing or circulation. The bill requires the commissioner of education to develop guidance intended to help educators avoid the use of these dangerous interventions and to develop positive interventions that will help redirect behavior without causing unnecessary and harmful trauma to students.

Senate Bill 1451 by Sen. Van Taylor and Rep. Trent Ashby prohibits a school from assigning an area of deficiency in an appraisal solely on the basis of disciplinary referrals made by the teacher or documentation regarding student conduct submitted by the teacher. This bill does not prohibit a teacher from being assigned an area of deficiency based on “documented evidence of a deficiency in classroom management obtained through observation or a substantiated report.”

Senate Bill 2135 by Sen. Beverly Powell requires the superintendent or the superintendent’s designee to consider all available information, including information furnished by a law enforcement agency, to form a threat assessment before determining whether a student has engaged in conduct defined as a felony offense by the Penal Code.

Senate Bill 2432 by Sen. Van Taylor is also known as the “Teacher Harassment” bill, which would require DAEP placement for any student engaging in conduct containing the elements of “harassment” as defined in the Texas Penal Code against an “employee of the school district.” A person commits an offense if, with intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass another, the person:

(1)  initiates communication and in the course of the communication makes a comment, request, suggestion, or proposal that is obscene;

(2)  threatens, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the threat, to inflict bodily injury on the person or to commit a felony against the person, a member of the person’s family or household, or the person’s property;

(3)  conveys, in a manner reasonably likely to alarm the person receiving the report, a false report, which is known by the conveyor to be false, that another person has suffered death or serious bodily injury;

(4)  sends repeated electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another.

Teacher Certification
House Bill 2424 by Rep. Trent Ashby creates a process for micro-credentialing, a process for identifying continuing education courses and programs that fulfill educators’ continuing education requirements, including opportunities for educators to receive micro-credentials in fields of study related to the educator’s certification class.

House Bill 3217 by Rep. Trent Ashby deletes current law that prohibits “Education” as an academic major for eligibility for a teaching certificate. It also deletes current law that prohibits the State Board for Educator Certification from requiring more than 18 semester credit hours of “Education” courses. And it provides that field-based experience can be included in the credit hours needed for certification.

 Senate Bill 37 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini prohibits removal of a person’s occupational license (including teacher certification) or non-renewal of a license on the basis of student loan default.

Open Records Requirements
Senate Bill 944 by Sen. Kirk Watson requires district trustees and employees to maintain texts and emails received on their personal devices (cell phones, tablets, etc.) related to district business or transfer those documents to the district. Trustees and employees would have to maintain the documents received during their tenure even if they left office or district employment if those documents have not been transferred to the district. The act would only apply to documents, including texts and emails, created or received on or after September 1, 2019. 

For questions or more information on this legislation, please email info@texasaft.org.