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At the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) meeting on Friday, October 1, the Board heard a discussion item that would establish rules to implement the requirements of HB 2519, as passed during the 87th Regular Legislative Session.

Some of the rule changes called for in HB 2519 include: 1) SBEC can no longer sanction an educator under contract who resigns between the 30th and 44th day before a school year begins; and 2) SBEC “shall” consider mitigating factors for contract abandonment (vs. may consider).

The SBEC discussion item also included draft rule language that extended beyond the changes called for in HB 2519. TEA prepared the additional language after SBEC held a July work group meeting and listened to a four-member panel composed of two teacher organization representatives and two leadership organization representatives.

The additional rule language heard on Friday included the recommendations of the two teacher organizations on the panel. Those recommendations would expand the list of good cause and mitigating factors to be considered when a teacher abandons his/her contract. A TEA legal representative indicated that having more concrete examples of mitigating factors outlined in rule would be helpful to TEA staff, SBEC and the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH).  View the draft rules and agency rationale for SBEC discussion item #9.

Dr. Kevin Brown, TASA executive director, testified in opposition to the proposed rules on behalf of the TASA membership. Dr. Crystal Dockery, deputy executive director of the Texas Association of Community Schools (TACS), also testified in opposition, as did Leslie Stephens, chief of Human Capital for Austin ISD. She testified on behalf of both the district and the Texas Urban Council. Representatives of ATPE, TCTA, TSTA, and Texas AFT testified in support of the proposed rules.

Dr. John Kelly, SBEC chair and Pearland ISD superintendent, along with Andrew Kim, SBEC member and Comal ISD superintendent, voted against the proposed rules. In comments, they echoed the testimony shared by Drs. Brown and Dockery, and Ms. Stephens, including:

  1. Staffing decisions, like other critical decisions involving students, should be made by prioritizing the needs of students/children first.
  2. Adopting a one-size-fits-all statewide rule that usurps local authority is not necessary as the vast majority of school districts resolve issues surrounding contract abandonment within the district without sending cases to SBEC for review.
  3. Due to the pandemic it has become increasingly difficult to fill positions when a teacher wants to abandon a contract outside the contract timelines, and just as difficult to find substitute teachers. The result is classrooms of students without teachers.

See the video recording of the SBEC meeting.

Next Steps

Public Comments: The public comment period on the proposal is October 22-November 22. The SBEC will take registered oral and written comments on this item at its December 10 meeting in accordance with the SBEC board operating policies and procedures.

Effective Date: If approved for filing as proposed in October 2021, and if adopted, subject to State Board of Education (SBOE) review, at the December 10 SBEC meeting, the proposed effective date of the proposal would be March 3, 2022 (20 days after filing as adopted with the Texas Register). The proposed effective date is based on the SBEC and SBOE meeting schedules.