TEA Proposes Amendments To School Security, Special Ed Rules

School Bus Stop Sign | Image by Inside Creative House/Shutterstock
School Bus Stop Sign | Image by Inside Creative House/Shutterstock

The Texas Education Agency recently published three new proposed amendments tackling issues related to campus security, special education, and more.

TEA announced that the proposals had been filed with the Texas Register last Friday, opening them up for public comment until June 24.

The first proposed amendment relates to school safety requirements. Changes to §61.1031 in the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) would clarify the language of existing safety requirements for public schools in Texas.

For instance, an “exterior secure area” would be defined, and the intended function of a “secure vestibule” would be specified.

The proposed changes would also implement SB 838 and HB 3. The two laws were passed by the Texas Legislature last year, during which school security was a priority legislative issue.

For instance, SB 838 mandates the installation of silent alert panic technology at each school district or open-enrollment charter school in order to notify law enforcement agencies and first responders immediately in the case of an emergency.

HB 3 requires that public school districts and open-enrollment charter schools provide the Department of Public Safety, local law enforcement, and emergency first responders with an accurate map of each of their campuses and invite them for a walk-through.

While the published rule states that the changes would impact local governments fiscally, TEA pointed to the availability of grants to help school districts defray the estimated costs, including Safety and Facilities Enhancement (SAFE) Grants worth $1.1 billion.

The second proposed amendment includes changes to the monitoring, review, and support of special programs to align with federal guidance. It also aims to add open-enrollment charter schools to the language of §97.1071 for the sake of clarity.

More specifically, one of the changes would add new compliance requirements for programs aimed at emergent bilingual students. Another would establish a process for the state to investigate alleged violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B, and issue the findings of that investigation.

Special education services, including multilingual courses, have been a matter of considerable concern in Texas. As covered in The Dallas Express, the implementation of a new bill will soon remove the cap on public districts’ special education spending.

The final proposed amendment seeks to make changes to TAC chapter 7, subchapter EE, which relates to accreditation status, standards, and sanctions. These modifications are mostly meant to clarify the language of different sections. Due to TEA’s new Accountability Rating System, references to “Results Driven Accountability” would be removed.

The most noteworthy change seeks to amend §97.1073 for clarity. It would require a superintendent appointed by a board of managers to assume office and the responsibilities it entails immediately.

A board of managers is appointed when TEA dismisses the locally elected school board in a state takeover.

This was the case in early 2023 for Texas’ largest public school district, Houston ISD, after chronic academic underperformance at one of its campuses, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. In this case, Mike Miles, a former superintendent for Dallas ISD, was appointed directly as the new superintendent by TEA.

More recently, allegations of corruption led to La Joya ISD being taken over by TEA, with the state appointing both a board of managers and a new superintendent, Dr. Marcey Sorensen.

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