In 1954, the US Supreme Court began the effort to eliminate de jure racial segregation (segregation by law) in our society.
In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in public education, in any federally assisted program or activity, in public and private employment, and in privately owned places of public accommodation.
The courts have required good-faith integration and affirmative action efforts. Districts still involved in the original desegregation suits conduct their affairs in accordance with the court orders issued in their respective cases. Those under court orders must file with the responsible courts periodic status reports describing their progress toward desegregation.
***The ultimate goal of this process is to be declared “unitary,” a status denoting the eradication of all aspects of a segregated, dual school system.
In 1991, the US Supreme Court declared that once all vestiges of de jure segregation have been eliminated, federal court supervision may end, even if one-race schools reemerge. Also in 1991, the 5th Circuit ruled that once unitary status has been declared, plaintiffs bear the burden of proving in a new lawsuit that a school board’s actions were based on intent to discriminate, which is very difficult to do.
Section 504 of Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in federally assisted public school programs. IDEA requires that any state receiving financial assistance under the act must assure a free, appropriate public education to children with disabilities within the state and must assure that the rights of those children and their parents are protected.
Title XI of the 1972 Education Amendments prohibits intentional discrimination on the basis of sex in programs that receive federal assistance.
The decision of the US Supreme court was that public education facilities that are racially segregated are inherently discriminatory even if equal; the Court struck down laws that treated people differently solely on the basis of their color or racial heritage. This overruled the “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson 1896, and began the movement to end de jure segregation (segregation by law) in the public sector.
The US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that preference given African Americans and Mexican Americans in the admissions process at UT School of Law violated the 14th amendment equal protection clause. The admissions process set aside 5% of the spaces in the entering class for African Americans and 10% for Mexican Americans; to achieve these goals, lower admissions criteria and greater individual attention were necessary. The appeals court rejected the use of race or ethnicity as a criterion in admissions, it did recognize that other criteria that may correlate with race and ethnicity would be permissible as long as they are not used for discriminating on the basis of race (applicant’s residence, parents’ education, and economic and social background).
The US Supreme Court ruled that a trial court can relinquish supervision over those areas where a school district has achieved unitary status yet can retain authority to oversee continued desegregation in other areas. In effect, unitary status can be achieved in incremental stages.
In 1982, the US Supreme Court ruled that Texas no longer could exclude the children of undocumented admitted aliens from a tuition-free education. The court ruled that children could not be held responsible for being in Texas illegally and was not persuaded that the exclusionary provision in the Texas school admissions statute retarded the influx of undocumented aliens into the country or that providing a tuition-free education to these children would constitute a serious drain on the state’s funding for public education.
In 1991, Nederland ISD lost when it refused to admit a student who was living with her boyfriend’s parents in the district so that her home life could be stabilized. The student’s mother had executed power of attorney giving the boyfriend’s parents authority to make decisions regarding the student’s education and health care. The federal district court concluded that the district could address problems of white flight and overcrowding of its schools without enacting an overly broad policy that violated state and federal law. The district was ordered to change its policy and to pay court costs, the student’s attorneys’ fees, and nominal damages for the days the student was excluded from school.
(a) A child who is required to attend school under this section shall attend school each school day for the entire period the program of instruction is provided.
(b) Unless specifically exempted by Section 25.086, a child who is at least six years of age, or who is younger than six years of age and has previously been enrolled in first grade, and who has not yet reached the child’s 18th birthday shall attend school.
(c) On enrollment in prekindergarten or kindergarten, a child shall attend school.
iv. (d) Unless specifically exempted by Section 25.086, a student enrolled in a school district must attend:
an extended-year program for which the student is eligible that is provided by the district for students identified as likely not to be promoted to the next grade level or tutorial classes required by the district under Section 29.084;
an accelerated reading instruction program to which the student is assigned under Section 28.006(g);
an accelerated instruction program to which the student is assigned under Section 28.0211; or
a basic skills program to which the student is assigned under Section 29.086.
v. (e) A person who voluntarily enrolls in school or voluntarily attends school after the person’s 18th birthday shall attend school each school day for the entire period the program of instruction is offered. A school district may revoke for the remainder of the school year the enrollment of a person who has more than five absences in a semester that are not excused under Section 25.087. A person whose enrollment is revoked under this subsection may be considered an unauthorized person on school district grounds for purpose of Section 37.107.
Schools can not require persons with whom students live to secure legal guardianship.
The Compulsory School Law
The Compulsory School law requires that a person who is at least 6 years of age, or who is younger than six years of age and has previously been enrolled in first grade, and who has not turned 18 shall attend school.
A student who is 17 or older and has a high school equivalency certificate or high school diploma is exempted from the compulsory school law
A student who fails to attend school without excuse on 10 or more full or partial days within a six-month period in the same school year, the district must file a complaint against the student or the parent or both in an appropriate court or refer the student to a juvenile court as specified in the statute.
To ensure consistency, in 1981, the TX legislature passed a law requiring a well-balanced curriculum in TX public school districts, including both a foundation curriculum and an enrichment curriculum. Foundation curriculum: English/LA, math, science and SS. Enrichment curriculum: other languages, health, PE, FA, economics, career and technology education, and technology applications.
TEKS are located in Chapters 110-128 of Vol. 19 of the Texas Administrative Code. The state board cannot designate either the methodology or the amount of time to be used in teaching the content.
The SBOE is directed by rule to adopt curriculum requirements for minimum, recommended, and advanced high school programs. Beginning with the 04-05 freshmen, school districts must endure that each student t enrolls in either the recommended or advanced school program unless the student, parent, and school official agree that the student should be allowed to take courses at the minimum level.
School districts are required to develop advanced placement tests for each primary grade level and secondary academic subject for advancing talented students from one grade to another.
Legislation enacted in 2003 permits TEA to establish a 3-year technology immersion pilot project in which each student at a participating school would receive a laptop and accessories that would have been shown to improve academic achievement.
TX legislature now allows school districts to teach sex education courses and to select teaching materials. Courses must present abstinence as the preferred choice of behavior for unmarried persons of school age. Curricular materials for these courses must be available for public inspection and parents are entitled to an opt-out option for their children.
Public school districts are authorized to offer an integrated program of educational and support services for students who are pregnant or who are parents.
TEC 28.022 provides that districts must establish a policy that provides for parent-teacher conferences and requires notice to parents of their student’s performance in each class or subject at least once every 12 weeks and must be signed by the parent and returned to the school. Such notice is not required if the student is 18 or older and living separate from the student’s parents, is married, or has had the disabilities of minority removed by a court.
If a student’s performance is consistently unsatisfactory in a foundation curriculum subject, the district must provide written notice to the parent or legal guardian at least once every three weeks or during the fourth week of each nine-week grading period.
The TAKS test is the state-wide assessment program (TEC 39.022).
11th graders must take an exit-level test in all four core subjects for the purpose of determining minimum skill mastery for high school graduation and
No one is “exempt” but certain children with disabilities or with LEP may be permitted to take an alternate assessment as decided by the child’s ARD committee.
Private schools may, but are not required to, participate in the state assessment program.
Under George W. Bush, the Texas legislature tightened up on social promotion. Beginning in 02-03 school year, 3rd graders are required to pass the state reading assessment before they can be promoted to the 4th grade. This extends to 5th grade in math and reading in the 04-05 school year and 8th graders in the 07-08 school year. Those who fail are required to have at least 2 more administrations of the test.
The grade placement committee can promote the student to the next grade level only if, using standards adopted by the board of trustees, the committee concludes that the student is likely to perform at grade level if promoted and given accelerated instruction. This decision is final and may not be appealed.
Students not likely to be promoted to the next grade are required to attend an extended-year program, an accelerated reading program, an accelerated instructional program, or a basic skills program.
A district must develop a personal graduation plan for each middle school, junior high, or high school student who does not perform well on the state assessment or is not likely to graduate on time. The plan must (1) identify educational goals, (2) include diagnostic information and evaluation strategies, such as monitoring and intervention, (3) include an intensive instruction program, (4) address parent participation and expectations, and (5) provide innovative methods to promote student advancement.
Schools may offer a certificate of completion to students who complete the curriculum requirements but fail the state assessment requirement. They may participate in graduation ceremonies and their transcript must specify whether the student received a diploma or certificate of coursework completion.
A school district may not withhold a diploma or deny a student the opportunity of graduating or participating in graduation exercises for failure to return books or pay the price of the books. However, the student forfeits the right to free textbooks until all previous books have been returned or paid for. The district can withhold records for failure to return or pay for books.
Teacher evaluation systems require that one of the appraisal criteria must encompass the performance of the teacher’s students. The appraisal of a school principal also must reflect how well students on the campus perform.
In McLean v. Quanah ISD, the commissioner of education observed that significant lack of student progress can be a reason for nonrenewal of a teacher contract. However, grades alone do not establish a teacher’s level of competence.
A person under 18 years of age will not be issued a driver’s license unless the person (1) has obtained a high school diploma or its equivalent, (2) is enrolled in a public, home, or private school and has attended school for at least 80 days in the fall or spring semester preceding the date of application, or (3) has been enrolled for at least 45 days, and currently is enrolled in a program to prepare persons to pass the high school equivalency exam.
The SBOE, directed by the TEC, established a set of academic excellence indicators for school campuses, to include such items as results on state-mandated assessment instruments, dropout rates, student attendance, high school exit-level assessment, SAT results, progress of students failing to pass state assessment instruments on test retakes, percentage of students exempted from the statewide assessment program, and high school graduation rates.
Principals must meet annually with their planning and decision making committee to review and revise their campus improvement plan.
A “campus report card” is issued each year by the TEA that compares the performance of the campus on the academic excellence indicators, student/teacher ratios, and administrative and instructional costs per student with the performance of the district and other schools in the state. These report cards are distributed annually to parents.
The thrust of these statutes is to make districts and individual campuses accountable to the community for the quality of education they impart and they make teachers and administrators more accountable for their performance.
School districts and individual schools are held accountable to TEA through the accreditation process. Districts are classified as exemplary, recognized, academically acceptable, and academically unacceptable.
NCLB 2001 amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. It is arguably the most ambitious piece of legislation Congress has ever passed with regard to public education.
The primary purpose is to raise student achievement by holding states and school districts to high standards with strict accountability requirements.
Students must make “adequate yearly progress” and is demonstrated through the statewide assessment test. Each state’s definition of AYP must apply “the same high standards of academic achievement to all public elementary and secondary school students in the State.” All students, regardless of ability level, are expected to met the yearly progress requirements and be achieving at grade level by the 2013-1014 school year. To make AYP, a school not only must show that its student body as a whole met the standard, it also must show that each subgroup met the same standard. NCLB requires a 95% participation rate, meaning that if less than 95% of the students take the test, the school will be identified as not making AYP regardless of how well the students do on the test. The 95% also applies to each subgroup.
NCLB requires that school districts hire “highly qualified” teachers for the core academic subjects by the end of the 05-06 school year.
If a school fails to make AYP: (1) the school enters what is termed “school improvement”. All students then have public school choice and can transfer to another school within the district that made AYP, or to a charter school with geographic boundaries that include the district. (2) If a school fails to make AYP for 3 years, “supplemental education services” become available including tutoring, but only families from low income families are eligible. (3) A school that fails to make AYP for 4 consecutive years will move into “corrective action” and will be required to: replace the school staff who are relevant to the school’s failure to make AYP, implement a new curriculum, significantly decrease management authority at the school level, appoint one or more outside experts to advise the school, extend the length of the school year or school day, or restructure the internal organization of the school.