Using your DOI plan to opt out of certain requirements….

Over half of the school districts in Texas have adopted DOI plans (District of Innovation) by which they can opt out of some of the requirements in the Texas Education Code.   I had not seen this come up as an issue in a court case or a T.E.A. appeal….until now.  So let me tell you about Parent v. Northwest ISD.

The school district issued one of those “trespass notices” to the parent in this case, restricting him from entering district property or attending school activities for one year, other than dropping off and picking up his child.  The district cited the parent’s “harassing conduct and inappropriate communications and conduct…over a period of months.”  

The parent filed a grievance, claiming that the district issued that trespass notice without first giving him the warning and written notice required by T.E.C. 37.105.  The district’s response to that was twofold: first, we did give the man the notice; second, we didn’t have to. 

The Commissioner decided the case based on the second argument, which is what makes this case a first.  The district did not have to comply with 37.105 because it exempted itself from it in the DOI.  Key Quote:

The DOI specifically exempts Respondent from section 37.105 and provides, alternatively, that “[Respondent] would allow designated staff members the authority to remove parents or visitors whose behavior is deemed inappropriate without warning or written notice.”  Petitioner complains that Respondent’s trespass notice to him violated section 37.105 but does not dispute that Respondent is a District of Innovation exempt from section 37.105.  Because under its DOI plan, Respondent is exempt from section 37.105, Petitioner has not stated a potential violation by Respondent of section 37.105 for which he would be entitled to relief. In addition, the Commissioner lacks jurisdiction over an alleged violation of a school law of this state from which a DOI is exempt. Accordingly, this claim should be dismissed.

Decided by Commissioner Morath on September 20, 2021. It’s Docket No. 032-R10-04-2021.

If you are interested in creating a DOI plan or revising the one you have, let us know.  We can help. 


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Tomorrow: finding hints in the opening paragraph…