Do you work or plan to pursue an academic career in the state of Texas? Below is information about two school laws in Texas that teachers and school administrators should be aware of.
Reporting Child Abuse
Teachers, certified teachers' aides, bus drivers, school administrators and other state-certified personnel who work with children are required to report suspected child abuse or neglect within 48 hours of the incident.
A report should reflect the reporter's belief that a child has been or may be abused or neglected or has died of abuse or neglect. An education professional (an individual who is licensed or certified by the state) may not delegate to or rely on another person (including a supervisor) to make the report. Failure to report is a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $2,000.
Confidentiality - The identity of an individual making a report is confidential and may be disclosed only on the order of a court or to a law enforcement officer for the purposes of conducting a criminal investigation.
Immunity - A person acting in good faith who reports or assists in the investigation of a report of alleged child abuse or neglect or who testifies or otherwise participates in a judicial proceeding arising from a report, petition or investigation of alleged child abuse or neglect is immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.
A grievance can be defined as a specific complaint about an education professional's wages, hours or conditions of work. Although virtually any aspect of employment may be technically grievable, only certain grievances are legally reviewable by the Commissioner of Education. According to the Texas Education Code §7.057, the only grievances which may be appealed to the Commissioner of Education are ones involving a breach of the employment contract coupled with economic harm, or a violation of a state school law or regulation by the school district.
Why a Grievance Procedure?
Teachers, school administrators and state-certified education professionals can use the established grievance procedure to settle disputes.
The grievance procedure provides the following:
- A safe, acceptable and systematic way to settle problems.
- A method for interpreting the agreement or board policies.
- An opportunity for individuals to tell their side of the story.
- Help in maintaining and establishing member rights.
- A procedure by which the local teachers' association can serve as a responsible advocate in support of the member.
- Management with a channel for member complaints.
The curriculum for many master's degree in educational leadership and policy studies programs cover school laws in Texas. One such degree program -- Master of Education in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies -- is offered by the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).
The Political and Legal Aspects of Education course in UTA's M.Ed. program focuses on the legal foundation of public education, political theory and application of political skills in working with school personnel, students, parents and community organizations. The role of the law, court rulings and the politics of school governance at the federal, state and local levels are also addressed.
The following courses in the M.Ed. program complement the Political and Legal Aspects of Education course to prepare program graduates for a career as an educational leader:
- Curriculum Design, Implementation & Evaluation.
- Educational Research and Evaluation.
- Leadership in the Instructional Setting.
- Leadership Theory.
- Diversity in Educational Settings.
- The Principalship.
- Resource Management in Education.
- Administrative Internship.
- Capstone Internship in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.
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