At last month’s UT School Law Conference we heard a very informative presentation from Amanda Bigbee, General Counsel at Keller ISD, about what Keller has done with its District of Innovation plan. This DOI thing has really taken off in Texas, with over half of the districts in the state adopting a plan. However, most of those plans address only a few things, such as the starting date for school (804 districts) and teacher certification (727). Keller’s plan goes quite a bit further.
Two specific provisions caught my attention. First, Keller obtained an exemption from the requirement that students below the third grade cannot be suspended out of school. The Keller DOI allows for suspensions of up to three days in a row, no more than 10 total for the year.
Second, Keller’s plan permits the district to suspend a contractual employee without pay when the action is based on an alleged violation of the Educator’s Code of Conduct.
Exemptions like these require buy in from teachers and parents. If your district is interested in expanding its DOI plan with these provisions or others, it would be wise to plan carefully, get buy in from stakeholders, be transparent, and go slow.
One other idea I got from Amanda’s excellent presentation—it would be a good idea to set aside some time after the legislative session to review all of the new laws and identify those from which the district would like to seek exemption. I’m sure my Back to School program this fall will highlight that option.
The attorneys in our firm can help you with amendments to your DOI plan. We can help clarify what areas are available for exemption, and can help you with the process. So give us a call if we can help.
DAWG BONE: GET INNOVATIVE!
Tomorrow: Johnny has a service dog. Susie is allergic to dogs.