Every time I hear the word “scintilla” I envision a small fur bearing mammal. But you will not hear this word tossed around by nature lovers or protectors of endangered species. Nope. This is a lawyer’s word, as in “you have not produced even a SCINTILLA of evidence!”
It comes up in the context of teacher nonrenewal when teachers appeal to T.E.A. The Agency does not conduct a new hearing. It reviews the record, and is required to uphold the board’s decision if it meets the “substantial evidence” standard. Don’t let that word “substantial” fool you. You don’t need a whole lot of evidence. A scintilla will do. A scintilla is a tiny little bit, but in a nonrenewal appeal, it’s enough.
That’s not the case when the board hears the case. There, the administration has to prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence. So said the Commissioner in Whitaker v. Moses and his decision was ultimately affirmed by the Court of Appeals at 40 S.W.3d 176 (Tex. App. Texarkana 2001).
So if the district is pursuing a nonrenewal it needs to prove its case before the board, and then hope the Commissioner can find that scintilla hiding in the record.
DAWG BONE: HAVE MORE THAN A SCINTILLA OF FUN THIS WEEKEND.