Q: My Board has already participated in a training session on evaluating and improving student outcomes (SB 1566) through our local service center; however, two of our board members were not able to attend. I understand that the deadline for completion of this training was September 1, 2018. Are there any consequences for failing to obtain the training by the deadline that the board members should be aware of?
A: Yes, sort of. The consequence identified in the law is that a deficient board member must be specifically named in the board meeting minutes for the last meeting before a trustee election. This pertains not just to 1566 training, but for all continuing education hours. For schools with upcoming November elections, this designation must be made in your October minutes; for May 2019 elections, this will be on your April minutes.
Texas Education Code §11.159(c) was added during the 2017 legislative session and requires that trustees complete three hours of training every two years on “evaluating student academic performance.” TEA developed a curriculum for this training so that “authorized providers” would be able to offer the required training to school boards across the state. This training has come to be known as the “Evaluating & Improving Student Outcomes” training (EISO), or simply the Senate Bill 1566 training. The law requires that any new trustee must complete the training within 120 days after election or appointment, while current trustees were required to complete the training by September 1, 2018.
The consequence for failing to participate in the training is found within TEA’s regulations, at 19 TAC §61.1, and applies equally to all aspects of continuing education requirements. The regulations state that “at the last regular meeting of the board of trustees before an election of trustees,” the current Board President must announce the name of each board member who has completed their required training, has exceeded the requirements, or is deficient in meeting their required continuing education as of the anniversary of each board member’s election/appointment to the board. The Board President’s announcement must align with particular wording identified in the statute; specifically, the Board President must state that “completing the required continuing education is a basic obligation and expectation of any sitting board member under State Board of Education rule.”
After this meeting and announcement, the minutes must reflect whether each trustee has met or is deficient in meeting the training required. If the minutes reflect that a trustee is deficient, the district is required to post the meeting minutes on the District’s website within 10 school business days of the meeting and must maintain that posting until the trustee meets the requirements. Practically, this means that your minutes will need to be posted more quickly than usual and will likely not allow time for board approval of the minutes prior to posting.
Bottom Line: If you have November 2018 trustee elections, we would advise urging your board members who have not yet completed the SB 1566 training, to do so before your October regular board meeting so as to avoid any public posting regarding deficiencies. Trainings can be completed on line, through your local service center, by your school district’s attorney (if an authorized provider), or at the upcoming TASA/TASB Convention in Austin on September 28-29.