Some North Texas school board trustees are describing a late March communique from the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) to lawyers representing school districts as an intimidation tactic.
As previously reported in The Dallas Express, the Carroll Independent School District (ISD) Board of Trustees voted to let its TASB membership lapse over what it perceived as the association’s left-wing bias.
Two days later, TASB issued a letter advising school attorneys all over Texas to caution trustees that the continued use of “proprietary” TASB templates and texts would constitute copyright violations.
“This letter is intended to clear up any confusion and explain the extent of TASB’s proprietary rights as they relate to TASB’s copyrighted policy publications and its online Policy Online hosting service. The benefits of TASB Policy Service are contingent on TASB membership,” a TASB spokesperson claimed in an email to The Dallas Express back in April.
In a recent interview with The Dallas Express, Frisco ISD Trustee Marvin Lowe suggested the association was trying to bully school boards into retaining their memberships.
“Basically it’s just a threat letter. They’re trying to figure out how to hold on to the business that they have,” Lowe claimed.
He went on to explain that TASB membership dues and service fees from school boards bring in substantial amounts of money to the organization at taxpayers’ expense.
“They had a monopoly. They were the one organization that you came to [as a school board] to get insurance, cash management services, and [trustee] training, and all these other services. … And now that Carroll ISD voted to leave, they’re scared. I mean, it’s a huge business,” Lowe said.
He also made reference to a letter from a local attorney by the name of Tim Davis, who sent a response to TASB arguing that many of its text-based services are exempt from copyright protections per federal guidance because they constitute materials used to develop “government edicts”:
“This exemption from copyright applies not only to validly-enacted policies (whether legal or local) but also to board protocols, student codes of conduct, any coding structure, and any other material that a board approved ‘by majority vote of the members present at a meeting held in compliance with Chapter 551, Government Code, at which a quorum of the board is present and voting,'” Davis’ letter asserted.
“Because the boards of trustees of an independent school district are governmental actors, TASB’s copyright claim to the material a board adopts has no legal support,” the attorney concluded.
The same day that Davis issued his letter, April 3, Carroll ISD Board President Cameron Bryan and a handful of state lawmakers held a press conference in Austin, calling on other school boards to leave TASB, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.
“Sending our community taxpayer dollars to an organization that pushes the very ideologies that our community overwhelmingly rejected in the last three elections would be disingenuous to those that have entrusted us to represent them,” argued Bryan, defending his board’s move.
Following the press conference, a TASB spokesperson claimed to The Dallas Express:
“Their goal in attacking TASB and in trying to get school boards to leave TASB is part of an effort to undermine local governance in public education and to silence and fragment the state’s largest group of elected officials — school board trustees.”
TASB had come under fire from some school board trustees in the North Texas area for allegedly lending support to “gender ideology” and critical race theory, such as by providing teacher and staff training that advised them to use students’ preferred pronouns.