A whole bunch of things the Commissioner does not have jurisdiction over….

It seems of late that more cases at T.E.A. are being dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, rather than on the merits. If the Commissioner is trying to limit the number of appeals to the Agency, he’s doing a pretty good job of it. In a recent case the Commissioner held that he did not have jurisdiction over the following issues:

*Violations of the federal Freedom of Information Act.

*Violations of FERPA.

*Reprimands of a teacher.

*The superintendent’s failure to follow policy.

*Retaliation for the filing of a grievance.

*The district’s failure to enforce its policies, or the unequal enforcement of its policies.

*Actions of the superintendent that are unfair or unwise.

The jurisdiction of the Commissioner is limited to allegations that the “school laws” of Texas have been violated, or that a written contract was breached in a way that caused monetary harm. The “school laws” of Texas consist only of Title I and II of the Education Code. That’s why the Commissioner does not hear cases alleging violations of federal law.

But notice that of the starred items listed above, many of them can be addressed in another forum. Schools that violate FERPA, or fail to follow their own policies can have some legal problems. And certainly administrators should know that they cannot retaliate for the filing of a grievance.

It’s just that the parties who complain of such things will not get a hearing at T.E.A.

Still, there are some cases in which the petitioner successfully establishes that the Commissioner has jurisdiction. Tune in tomorrow for that.

The case is Emerine v. Neches ISD, Docket No. 028-R10-02-2021, decided by Commissioner Morath on July 14, 2021.


Got a question or comment for the Dawg? Let me hear from you at jwalsh@wabsa.com.

Tomorrow: a COVID case….