A charter school named for the Golden Rule?

Charter schools have the opportunity to be creative in what they call themselves, as opposed to our traditional schools which follow the tried and true method of naming the school district after the town it’s located in.  There is one exception to that general rule that I’m aware of: Goose Creek CISD is the rare district named after a body of water rather than a town.  Are there other exceptions?

One charter school operator in Texas set a high standard for itself by calling itself Golden Rule Schools.  To follow the Golden Rule is a mighty fine goal, but when you call yourself by that name you open the door to complaints that you are not living up to your stated goal.  Perhaps Leslie Sharp would make that complaint. 

Ms. Sharp was employed by Golden Rule as a principal for the 2019-20 school year.  She had no contract.  Charters are not required to offer contracts, and so Ms. Sharp was an “at-will” principal.  Just before the start of the 2020-21 school year she was shown the door.  What to do?

Ms. Sharp was not in a position to claim breach of contract, since she had none.  She could not seek a hearing from an independent hearing examiner, because charters are not required to follow that process. So she pursued a grievance.  Her grievance was denied at Level One and Level Two, and then appealed to Level Three.  No decision was made at Level Three, so Ms. Sharp took the matter to T.E.A.

The Commissioner dismissed the appeal, noting that he lacks jurisdiction.   People can appeal the decisions of local school boards to T.E.A. pursuant to Section 7.057 of the Education Code. But that section does not apply to charter schools.  Thus, a swift end to the matter:

The Commissioner does not have jurisdiction to hear appeals of actions or decisions by open-enrollment charter schools. 

Three things are noteworthy here. First, professional educators at charter schools can be employed without a contract, and therefore, without due process protections.  Second, charter school employees cannot obtain relief from T.E.A.  Third, charter schools can have creative and interesting names.

It’s Sharp v. Golden Rule Schools, Inc., Docket No 013-R10-11-2020, decided by the Commissioner on January 26, 2021.