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  • Who has the overall discipline authority in schools?

    A principal has administrative responsibility for discipline at a school campus.  Tex. Educ. Code §11.202 (b) (4) (2009).  

    In addition, the local community, through the board of trustees of an independent school district, is charged with adopting a student code of conduct, which must be prominently displayed at each school campus or made available for review at the office of the campus principal.  Tex. Educ. Code § 37.001 (a) (2009).

    The school district must write a code of conduct that:  

    • specifies student removal: when a student may be removed from a classroom, removed from campus, or removed from disciplinary alternative education program, including detention;
    • specifies student transfer: the conditions under which a principal may transfer a student to a disciplinary alternative education program;
    • outlines the conditions under which a student may be suspended or expelled;
    • specifies that consideration will be given to the following factors in making decisions about student suspension, removal to a disciplinary alternative education program, expulsion, or placement in a juvenile justice alternative education program, regardless of whether the decision is mandatory or based on the school’s judgment:
      • self-defense;
      • intent or lack of intent by the student;
      • a student’s disciplinary history; and
      • disability that significantly impairs the student’s ability to understand the wrongfulness of the conduct;
    • provides guidelines for the length of term for a suspension or expulsion;
    • provides for notification of a student’s parent or guardian for a violation of the student code of conduct;
    • prohibits bullying, harassment, and making hit lists and ensure that district employees enforce such prohibitions; and
    • provides, as appropriate for students at each grade level, methods for teachers to:
      • manage students in the classroom and on school grounds;
      • discipline students; and
      • prevent and intervene in student disciplinary problems, including bullying, harassment, and making hit lists. 

    Tex. Educ. Code § 37.001 (a) (2009)

  • What is classroom removal and when is it permitted?

    A teacher may remove a student from the classroom and send the student to the principal’s office in order to maintain effective discipline in the classroom.  In response, the principal must employ appropriate disciplinary management techniques consistent with the student code of conduct.  Tex. Educ. Code § 37.002 (a) (2009).   

    A teacher can remove a student from class if the teacher determines that the student’s conduct: 

    • has repeatedly interfered with the teacher’s ability to communicate effectively with the other students in the class or with the ability of the other classmates to learn;
    • Tex. Educ. Code § 37.002 (b) (2009).  

    Principal’s authority: Upon removal from class, the principal may place the removed student into another appropriate classroom, into in-school suspension, or into a disciplinary alternative education program.  A principal may not return a student to a classroom without the teacher’s consent.  Tex. Educ. Code § 37.002 (c) (2009).   

    Three-Member Committee: If a teacher refuses the return of a student to a class, then the school must establish a three-member committee of teachers and educators to determine the placement of a student into another class.  The teacher that removed the student from class cannot serve on the committee.  Tex. Educ. Code § 37.003 (2009).   

  • What is removal to a disciplinary alternative education program and when is it permitted?

    Under Texas law, each school district is required to provide a disciplinary alternative education program that:

    • Is held in a setting other than a student’s regular classroom
    • Focuses on English language arts, mathematics, science, history, and self-discipline. 
    • Provides for a student’s behavioral and educational needs through supervision and counseling.  Tex. Educ. Code § 37.008 (2009).     

    A student may be removed to a disciplinary alternative education program for engaging in conduct that:

    • Constitutes a false alarm or a terroristic threat, or
    • Constitutes a felony,
    • Constitutes an assault, public lewdness

    Involves using drugs (like marijuana or other controlled substances), alcohol, or volatile chemicals within 300 feet of school property.  Tex. Educ. Code § 37.006 (2009)

  • Under what circumstances can a student be expelled?

    Texas law provides that a student shall be expelled from school if the student, on school property or while attending a school-sponsored or school-related activity on or off school property: 

    • uses, exhibits, or possesses a firearm, an illegal knife, or other weapon;
    • engages in conduct involving: aggravated assault, arson, murder, indecency, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, or sexual abuse of a young child or children; or
    • engages in conduct that constitutes a felony.
    • Tex. Educ. Code § 37.007 (2009)

    Texas law provides that a student may be expelled from school for:  

    • engaging in conduct that constitutes a false alarm or terroristic threat;
    • engaging in any of the following activities within 300 feet of school property: a felony, assault, public lewdness, or engaging in activities involving drugs (e.g., marijuana or other controlled substances), alcohol, or volatile chemicals;
    • engaging in deadly contact; or
    • possessing a firearm within 300 feet of the boundary line of school property.  
    • Tex. Educ. Code § 37.007 (2009).

    School-sponsored shooting sports or target ranges: A child may not be expelled from school solely on the basis of the student’s use, exhibition, or possession of a firearm that occurs at an approved target range facility that is not located on a school campus and while participating in a school sponsored shooting sports competition or a shooting sports educational activity sponsored by the Parks and Wildlife Department.  Nevertheless, a student is still not authorized to bring a firearm to school.  Tex. Educ. Code § 37.007 (k) (2009).  

  • Is corporal punishment at schools permitted?

    Texas law does not mention corporal punishment, however, parents should check with the local student code of conduct and local policies for corporal punishment, as Texas law has not banned the practice.  

    Texas law does permit restraint and time-out, but forbids the seclusion of students.   

    • Restraint is the use of physical force or mechanical device to significantly restrict the free movement of all or part of a student’s body.
    • Time-out is a behavior management technique that aims to provide a student with the opportunity to regain self-control by separating the student from other students for a limited time period.
    • A school employee, volunteer or independent contractor of a school may not place a student in seclusion, which includes placing a student in a locked room or locked box. 
    • Tex. Educ. Code § 37.0021 (2009).  
  • Is there a state policy on bullying?

    Local Code of Conduct Must Prohibit: The local student code of conduct must prohibit bullying, harassment, and the making of hit lists, and ensure that school district employees enforce those prohibitions.  Tex. Educ. Code § 37.001 (a) (7) (2009).   

    Prevention Education: In addition, schools must provide for prevention and education concerning unwanted physical or verbal aggression, sexual harassment, and other forms of bullying in school, on school grounds, and in school vehicles.  Tex. Educ. Code § 37.083 (2009)

  • Who is considered a Student of Limited English Proficiency?

    Defining English Proficiency: a “student of limited English proficiency” is a student:

    • whose primary language is other than English and
    • whose English language skills are such that the student has difficulty performing ordinary class-work in English.  Tex. Educ. Code § 29.052 (2009)

    Meeting State Standards: In addition, federal law aims to ensure that English Language Learners (used interchangeably with Students of Limited English Proficiency in Texas) attain English language proficiency and meet the same challenging State academic content and student academic achievement standards as all other children are expected to meet.  No Child Left Behind Act, Title III, Part A (2002).         

  • What is the assessment test used for Limited English Proficiency? What are the procedures for the test?

    Texas law provides for an English language proficiency test approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).  For students in Kindergarten to 1st grade, an oral English proficiency exam is administered.  For students in 2nd to 12th grade, students are administered an oral and written English test.  Tex. Educ. Code § 29.056 (2009).   

    A student is determined to be of limited English proficiency if

    • the student’s ability is so limited that a test cannot be administered;
    • the student’s test score is below what the Texas Education Agency determines to be below the levels established for reasonable proficiency;
    • the student’s primary language proficiency score is greater than the student’s proficiency in English; or
    • the language proficiency assessment committee determines (based on other information such as teacher evaluation, parental viewpoint, or student interview) that the student’s primary language proficiency is greater than the English language proficiency, or that the student is not reasonably proficient in English. 
    • Tex. Educ. Code § 29.056 (e) (2009)

    Parental Notification: Texas law requires that parents must be notified no later than 10 days from the date of the student’s classification as a student of limited English proficiency.   Tex. Educ. Code § 29.056 (d) (2009)

  • What are the state’s graduation requirements?

    Mandatory TAKS: In order to graduate from high school and obtain a high school diploma, Texas law requires that students pass their school coursework and pass all four sections of the Texas Assessment Knowledge and Skills (“TAKS”) exit exam.  The four sections of the TAKS exam are: English Language Arts (“ELA”); mathematics, social studies, and science.  See Tex. Educ. Code § 39.022 (2009).   

    In addition, should a student fail the TAKS exit examination, the student may retake the exam based on a schedule determined by the commissioner of education.  See Tex. Educ. Code § 39.022 (2009).     

    Helpful documents or links 

    The Texas Education Agency provides resources regarding graduation and TAKS exit testing requirements through the following link:  http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/taks/hsgrad/.

  • State Parent Information and Resource Centers

    The Texas Education Agency provides a number of online resources to provide parents with education related information: 

    TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY 

    Contact information

    Texas Education Agency

    William B. Travis Building

    1701 N. Congress Avenue

    Austin, TX 78701

    Telephone: 512-463-9734

    Website: http://portals.tea.state.tx.us/index.aspx 

     

    Susie Coultress, Director, Bilingual and English as a Second Language

    [email protected]

    Texas Education Agency

    1701 North Congress Avenue

    Austin, Texas 78701-1401

    512.463.9581  

     

    Noelia Benson, Assistant Director, Bilingual and English as a Second Language

    [email protected]

    Texas Education Agency

    1701 North Congress Avenue

    Austin, Texas 78701-1401

    512.463.9581 

     

    Adela Esquivel, Program Specialist, Bilingual and English as a Second Language

    [email protected]

    Texas Education Agency

    1701 North Congress Avenue

    Austin, Texas 78701-1401

    512.463.9581  

    U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

    Contact information for the Texas office

    Dallas Office 
    Office for Civil Rights 
    U.S. Department of Education 
    1999 Bryan Street, Suite 1620 
    Dallas, TX 75201-6810

    Telephone: 214-661-9600 
    Facsimile: 214-661-9587 
    Email: [email protected]  

    OTHER RESOURCES

    Texas Appleseed

    1609 Shoal Creek Blvd., Suite 201

    Austin, TX 78701

    512-473-2800, ext. 107

    512-473-2813 

    Texas Appleseed is a private non-profit entity whose mission is to promote economic and social justice to all Texans by utilizing the effort and skills of attorneys and other professionals.  Texas Appleseed has a number of resources to encourage greater parental involvement to help students in achieving greater academic and behavioral performance in school.   www.texasappleseed.net