School districts allowed to ignore state laws

A new Districts of Innovation law that was passed in 2015 is causing concern for many parents and educators.

According to a press release issued by the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the new law allows Texas school districts to become Districts of Innovation, meaning they can claim exemptions from numerous state laws found in the Texas Education Code.

Besides allowing them to have more local control, this new law will allow the school districts to operate like charter schools, which causes several issues and concerns.

The law allows schools to hire teachers who are not certified, which means they do not need to be held accountable by the State Board for Educator Certification and it allows them to deal with student suspensions and expulsions in a way that could leave students without education.

Additionally it allows school districts to waive laws that regulate how many students each teacher can have in the classroom and their right to remove disruptive students from their classrooms.

By seeking exemptions from the education laws, districts may unintentionally waive the immunity statuses that protect them and their employees against costly lawsuits.

Because of these concerns, the ATPE is asking the commissioner to clarify the new law and provide guidance to districts wanting to take advantage of it.