Commissioner Williams concluded that he did not have jurisdiction over the claims brought by the parents of some students on a junior high dance team in the United ISD. In making his ruling, the Commissioner makes several key points.
1. The Commissioner does not have jurisdiction over claims that an educator violated the Texas Educator Code of Ethics. Those should go to SBEC.
2. School boards must adopt a procedure for hearing grievances, but the specifics of that procedure are up to the local board. In particular, the board is not required to allow parties to call or cross examine witnesses.
3. Not firing a teacher is not a violation of the Education Code, since the authority to discharge the teacher is permissive, not mandatory.
4. Grieving parties have to “explain to the school board at the local level how the school district has violated the Texas Education Code with sufficient clarity to allow the school board to decide whether a violation occurred.” If the grieving party fails to do that, the party has not “exhausted administrative remedies.”
5. Retaliating against a parent for filing a grievance is a violation of T.E.C. 26.001(a). But the Commissioner held that retaliation did not occur here. Instead, the local board granted the part of the parents’ grievance asking that their children be protected from retaliation.
DAWG BONE: HANDLE YOUR GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES WITH CARE