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Q:        One of our board members is currently under quarantine due to his spouse testing positive for COVID-19. Our board meeting is next week, and he would like to participate in the meeting. Can he call in and be put on speakerphone?  A:        No. Telephone participation at a public meeting is not permitted under the...
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Q:        Did the Legislature make any provision in the Education Code to provide flexibility with attendance requirements for a student who experiences excessive absenteeism resulting from a serious or life-threatening illness, such as COVID-19?  A:        Yes, HB 699 requires a school district to excuse a student from attending school for an absence resulting from “a...
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Q:        Can we legally ask employees if they have received a COVID-19 vaccine as part of our health screening protocols when someone reports a positive case or close contact exposure to the virus?  A:        Yes, you can inquire about employees’ vaccination status, but the employee can choose not to provide an answer. Importantly, a public...
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Q:        I’m hoping the Legislature made it easier to suspend the Texas Public Information Act in the event we experience another COVID epidemic. Did I hear that correctly?  A:       Not really.  S.B. 1225 did amend the TPIA. However, the amendment provides for greater restriction than access to the Act’s suspension provisions. In the past,...
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Q:        Did I hear correctly that the Legislature passed a bill that changes the standard for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect?  A:        Yes. HB 3379 amends the Texas Family Code to establish and apply a “reasonable cause” standard for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect, which is a higher standard than that...
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Q:        Did the Legislature take any action relevant to cyberbullying and the increasing prevalence of social media in students’ lives?   A:        Yes. SB2050 amends Texas Education Code section 37.0832 to require a school district’s board to adopt a policy, including any necessary procedures, for prevention and mediation of bullying incidents, including cyberbullying, between students. Previously,...
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Q:        I heard a bill just passed that would allow homeschool students to participate in district UIL activities. Are we now required to let homeschool students participate in our UIL activities?   A:        No. HB 547, also known as the “Tim Tebow Bill,” gives school districts the option to allow homeschool students to participate in UIL...
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Q:        I heard recently that the Governor’s suspension of certain Texas Open Meetings Act requirements is coming to an end and we will be required soon to conduct Board of Trustees meeting in person. Is that true?   A:        Yes. While on July 1, 2021, the Governor of Texas granted an additional 30-day extension of the...
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Q:       Are the rumors true—did the Legislature narrow the ability to sanction a teacher’s certificate for resigning during the summer without permission? A:        Yes and no.  While a school district may still seek sanctions against a teacher who fails to resign 45 days or more before the first day of instruction, effective September...
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Q:        In the wake of the pandemic, did the Texas Legislature take any action to help schools identify mental health warning signs in students?  A:        Yes. SB 179 directs each school board to adopt a policy that requires a school counselor to spend at least 80 percent of the school counselor’s total work...
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