The operation of public schools in Texas is a fairly specialized area that covers a number of different areas. For example, school districts employ professionals such as teachers, principals, librarians, nurses, and counselors according to the terms of written contracts. Under the Texas Education Code, these employment contracts are categorized as probationary, continuing, or term. Professionals executing these contracts are given certain rights and protections. If the employment relationship with the school district is not continued or otherwise terminated, the Education Code sets forth procedures and timelines which must be followed or else the separation may not be legally valid.
Another common area that arises frequently concerns the rights of students attending public schools and their treatment by school employees. Students are granted certain rights under both state and federal statutes as well as the United States Constitution and the Texas Constitution. However, school districts enjoy a wide amount of discretion with respect to the day to day operation of their schools. The school district, by and through their elected Board of Trustees, adopts policies that provide both procedural and substantive guidelines to deal with issues that may arise. For example, school districts have policies that address student discipline. Certain student behavior may lead to a suspension from school, placement in an alternative education setting, or even expulsion. School Districts may also attempt to limit student participation in certain activities, place limitations on personal matters such as wardrobe and grooming through its dress code, and place limits on what is acceptable with respect to student expression on topics ranging from current events to religious beliefs and practices.
Another common area that arises in relation to Texas public schools is the information that they must make accessible to the public. As a governmental entity, they are accountable to the citizens and expected to operate with a high level of transparency. The public has a right to obtain information about activities or documents in the possession of the school district in many instances pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act. However, not all information is available under this statute as it contains numerous exceptions to the general rule that information should be available to the public. The school district and its employees may suffer harsh legal consequences for not properly responding to legitimate requests for information under the statute.
If you are a person who would like to obtain information about the activities of a school district and its employees or if you are a professional employed by a school district or the parent of a student who has questions about whether your rights have been violated, please contact our office for a consultation. Our offices are coneniently located in Frisco, TX near Plano, Carrollton, The Colony, Little Elm, McKinney, Oak Point, Cross Roads, Prosper, Gunter, and Celina.