Texas Supreme Court Sides with Texas AFT on Commissioner Power, Charter Partnerships

In 2017, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1882, a bill designed to encourage charter school growth by allowing public school campuses labeled as “low-performing” to hand over operations to a charter operator; in exchange, the school would receive the per-pupil funding advantage that charters have over real public schools — sometimes as high as $1,000 per pupil. 

After the Commissioner of Education created rules to implement the law, Texas AFT challenged several as exceeding the commissioner’s authority and sought a declaration that those rules were invalid and void. 

In December, the Texas Supreme Court agreed with us, ruling that the commissioner cannot, by rule, restrict judicial review. In other words, the commissioner is not the final arbiter, and these partnerships can be challenged in court. This is an important and timely decision, considering the apparent support the commissioner showed in a recent scheme by voucher proponents who partnered with ResponsiveEd charter schools to invent a campus on paper. The plan, exposed in a Texas Monthly report, used the SB 1882 charter per-pupil funding advantage to partner with Wimberley ISD and funnel tax dollars to private schools. You can read more about the scheme in the Texas Monthly report, “Inside the Secret Plan to Bring Private School Vouchers to Texas.”