Below are today’s updates regarding COVID-19 and its impact on Texas public schools.  For additional resources, please visit our COVID-19 page.

Documenting Temporary SPED Services
Dean Micknal, Partner; Victoria Elliott, Associate

During the current pandemic, public school districts have an ongoing obligation to provide FAPE to students with disabilities.  Therefore, district personnel need to attempt to continue to follow IEPs and 504 plans to the best of their ability, while giving primary consideration to health and safety.

Due to the constraints imposed by these health and safety considerations, it is essential that districts continue taking data and documenting the accommodations and services that are being provided to students with disabilities.  This documentation will be crucial once school resumes, as districts will need to hold 504 meetings and ARDs to determine whether and to what extent compensatory services are needed to address any skills that may have been lost because of the closure.

TEA has released and continues to update guidance specifically related to COVID-19 and Special Education on their website.

Additionally, TEA has recently developed and released draft forms and guidance for documenting the provision of temporary services that may be helpful in tracking this crucial component of responding in these unprecedented times.

Delegation of Authority to Superintendent 
Rhonda Crass, Shareholder

Were you given authority as a Superintendent via a resolution to perform certain functions that were typically designated to the Board of Trustees?  If so, how are you keeping track of the actions that were delegated to you?  Leasor Crass has developed a unique system that matches the resolutions passed by your Board to ensure that there is documentation of your actions during this time of crisis.  For more information, please reach out to our staff at Leasor Crass.

NSBA Legislative Call to Action Regarding Special Education Services During COVID-19: Send this letter to Congress!
Dean Micknal, Partner; Victoria Elliott, Associate

The National School Board Association (“NSBA”) has issued a “Legislative Call-To-Action” encouraging members to contact congressional representatives to consider measures that will provide flexibility and funding related to providing services to students with disabilities during the current pandemic. As mentioned in the Call to Action, a key concern that many of our colleagues have identified is the challenge of attempting to implement IEP and/or Section 504 mandated services during the extended shutdown. While districts are working to approximate these services to the greatest extent allowable, the inflexibility of the existing federal legal framework has and will continue to result in an ongoing crisis of noncompliance which will need to be addressed once normal school functions resume. Districts may find the scope of dealing with this eventuality positively crippling unless legislative action is taken to provide flexibility and funds.

A copy of the NSBA’s Legislative Call to Action is available here. More information about NSBA’s legislative efforts and resources related to their COVID-19 response is available online via the NSBA’s website.

Board Policy Suspension Regarding Grading, Class Rank & Related Matters
Rhonda Crass, Shareholder

If you have not already done so, we recommend that clients, at the next board meeting, adopt a resolution to temporarily suspend local board policies related to student grading, class rank, and related matters.  The Commissioner has given broad discretion to districts regarding these issues.  After this resolution is adopted, please do not forget to provide notice to parents regarding any changes.

Identifying Essential School-District Services Under Latest Texas Executive Order
Holly James, Senior Associate

State and local governments across the nation have applied varying approaches to address the question of what constitutes an essential business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 19, 2020, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-08, banning social gatherings in groups of more than ten people.  The March 19th Order stated that government entities and businesses would continue providing “essential services” but did not define what services were deemed to be essential.

On March 28, 2020, in an effort to assist state and local governments, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Security Agency issued its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Version 2.0 (“CISA Guidance”), which provides an advisory list of critical-infrastructure sectors, workers, and functions that should continue during the COVID-19 response.  The next day, based on the advice of medical experts, President Trump announced that restrictive social distancing guidelines should extend through April 30, 2020.

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Leasor Crass has been an invaluable asset to Wylie Independent School District for 8 years. As a trusted advisor and reliable guide, the firm has consistently supported us through every challenge we’ve faced. Their common sense and pragmatic approach to the law have earned them greater trust with each passing year. We feel incredibly fortunate to have them represent our school district. With their ongoing support and guidance, we are confident in our ability to overcome any obstacle as we continue to strive for educational excellence.

– Dr. David Vinson, Superintendent, Wylie Independent School District

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House Bill 3 Strengthens School Safety and Security

House Bill 3 brings major changes to school safety, specifically requiring districts to strengthen active shooter policies and safety plans. Effective September 1, 2023, it is imperative that districts begin to review the new requirements of HB 3 to ensure policies and procedures are compliant in time for the upcoming school year. Security Officers/Facility Safety […]

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