April 2020

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DISTRICTS, COMMUNITIES WORKING TO STAY UPDATED ON LATEST COVID-19 INFORMATION MONITORING THE A Publication of the Texas Association of School Boards | Volume 38, Number 3 | April 2020 Texas Lone Star

Featured Event

For latest information on events, visit tasb.org/ covid-19resources/ event-updates. aspx.

APRIL

1 • [CANCELED] TASB Facility Services Best Practices: Hazardous Materials Response and Removal Training, Austin • TASB Risk Fund “Cybercriminals Are Plotting. Are You Ready?” Webinar

2 • [CANCELED] TASB Facility Services Best Practices: Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities Training, Austin • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, Stephenville

4-5 • [CANCELED] Texas Breakfasts at National School Boards Association (NSBA) Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois

4-6 • [CANCELED] NSBA Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois

6 • [CANCELED] TASB BoardBook® Premier Onsite Training Event, Austin

7 • [CANCELED] TASB Facility Services Asbestos Designated Person Training, Midland • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, San Angelo

8 • [CANCELED] TASB Facility Services Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Training, Midland

9 • [CANCELED] TASB Facility Services Best Practices: Construction Fundamentals Training, Midland

14-17 • [CANCELED] State Board of Education Meetings, Austin

16 • [CANCELED] TASB HR Services “Implementing Strategic HR Practices” Workshop, Victoria

20-21 • [CANCELED] TASB Risk Management Fund Members’ Conference, Austin

21 • [CANCELED] TASB Facility Services Asbestos Designated Person Training, Waco • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, Lubbock

TASB Officers 2019-20

Lee Lentz-Edwards, Kermit ISD, President

Jim Rice, Fort Bend ISD, President-Elect

Ted Beard, Longview ISD, First Vice-President

Debbie Gillespie, Frisco ISD, Second Vice-President

Bob Covey, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Secretary-Treasurer

Jim de Garavilla, Silsbee ISD, Immediate Past President

TASB Board of Directors 2019-20

Moises Alfaro, Mathis ISD, Region 2

Kay Alley, Crosbyton CISD, Region 17

Rose Avalos, Aldine ISD, Region 4H

Kamlesh Bhikha, ESC 2, ESC Representative

Steve Brown, Ector County ISD, Region 18

Kevin A. Carbo, Mesquite ISD, Region 10D

Yolanda Cuellar, South Texas ISD, Region 1B

Thomas Darden, Cooper ISD, Region 8

Jason Dohnalik, Cameron ISD, Region 6

Karen Freeman, Northside ISD, Region 20B

Corinne French, Valley View ISD, Region 11D

Demetrio D. Garcia, Kenedy ISD, Region 3

Linda Gooch, Sunnyvale ISD, Region 10B

Mary Jane Hetrick, Dripping Springs ISD, Region 13B

Tony Hopkins, Friendswood ISD, Region 4C

Sandy Hughey, North East ISD, Region 20E

Bill Lacy, Katy ISD, Region 4E

Mark Lukert, Wichita Falls ISD, Region 9

Jayme Mathias, Austin ISD, Region 13A

Raymond P. Meza, San Felipe Del Rio CISD, Region 15

Dan Micciche, Dallas ISD, Region 10C

Vernagene Mott, Pflugerville ISD, Region 13C

Patricia O’Caña-Olivarez, Mission CISD, Region 1A

Nicholas Phillips, Nederland ISD, Region 5

Jacinto Ramos Jr., Fort Worth ISD, Region 11B

Page Rander, Clear Creek ISD, Region 4B

Georgan Reitmeier, Klein ISD, Region 4A

Armando Rodriguez, Canutillo ISD, Region 19B

Rolinda Schmidt, Kerrville ISD, Region 20A

Rhonda Skillern-Jones, Houston ISD, Region 4D

Cindy Spanel, Highland Park ISD, Region 16

Becky St. John, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, Region 11A

Mildred Watkins, La Vega ISD, Region 12

Greg Welch, Clyde CISD, Region 14

Robert Westbrook, Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD, Region 20D

22 • [CANCELED] TASB Facility Services Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Training, Waco • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, Houston

23 • [CANCELED] TASB Facility Services Indoor Air Quality Coordinator Training, Waco • [CANCELED] TASB HR Services “Managing Personnel Records” Workshop, Richardson

28 • [CANCELED] TASB HR Services “Implementing Strategic HR Practices” Workshop, Abilene

30 • [CANCELED] TASB Special Education Solutions SHARS 2020 Conference, Round Rock MAY [ALL MAY EVENTS TENTATIVE]

1 • State Board for Educator Certification Meeting, Austin • [NOW ONLINE] TASB Special Education Solutions SHARS 2020 Webinar

4 • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, Alpine

5 • TASB Spring Workshop, Iraan-Sheffield

7 • TASB Spring Workshop, El Paso

11• [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, Commerce

12 • TASB Spring Workshop, Nacogdoches

13 • TASB Spring Workshop, Canyon

14 • TASB Spring Workshop, Huntsville

15-16 • TASB Spring Workshop, South Padre Island

18 • TASB Spring Workshop, Abilene

19 • TASB Spring Workshop, Waco

27 • TASB Spring Workshop, Uvalde

For more information about these events or deadlines, visit the TASB website at tasb.org or call TASB at 512.467.0222 or 800.580.8272 toll-free.

2 Texas Lone Star | April 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org Calendar

Features

8 Monitoring the Outbreak

Though the COVID-19 virus situation is changing rapidly, it’s important for districts to remember the basics of preventing spread of infectious diseases.

Departments

2 Calendar 22 Legal News

26 Capital Watch

28 Good Governance

32 News & Events

Columns

5 From the

Top

7 Editor’s Footnote

34 Leadership TASB

42 Q & A

12 Beyond Digital Defenses

The notion that technological problems must have technological solutions ignores a crucial component of a strong cybersecurity stance: people.

16 Are We Truly Addressing Special Needs?

With ever-increasing identification of children with disabilities under both IDEA and Section 504, it is essential to shore up special programs in Texas.

Texas Lone Star • Volume 38, Number 3

Texas Association of School Boards

P.O. Box 400 • Austin, Texas • 78767-0400 512.467.0222 or 800.580.8272 (toll-free)

Roger White • Managing Editor

Melissa Locke Roberts • Assistant Editor

Shu-in Powell • Graphic Designer

Patrick Morris, Virginia Hernandez • Photographers

Amy Rames • Advertising Coordinator 360 Press Solutions • Printer

Texas Lone Star (ISSN 0749-9310) is published 10 times a year by the Texas Association of School Boards. Copyright© 2020 by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). All rights reserved. Reproduction, adaptation, distribution, and exhibition in whole or in part are prohibited under penalty of law without the written license or permission of TASB. Copies of Texas Lone Star are mailed to trustees of TASB member school boards and their superintendents as part of their membership. Subscriptions are available to nonmembers for $36 (1 year), $69 (2 years), and $99 (3 years). Single copies are $5.

Address changes should be sent to Michael Pennant, TASB, P.O. Box 400, Austin, Texas 78767-0400.

Articles in Texas Lone Star are expressions of the author or interviewee and do not represent the views or policies of TASB. Permission to reprint should be addressed to the Managing Editor, P.O. Box 400, Austin, Texas 78767-0400.

Web Watch

As response to the coronavirus outbreak develops, TASB is compiling event cancellations and legal resources that may be helpful to trustees and districts. Get the latest at tasb.org/covid-19-resources.aspx

For more information about tasb.org and our related sites, contact TASB Online Communications at 512.467.0222 or 800.580.8272 toll-free or visit tasb.org/help/index.aspx.

Texas Lone Star does not guarantee publication of unsolicited manuscripts.

Postmaster: Send address changes to TASB, P.O. Box 400, Austin, Texas 78767-0400.

Follow us:

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2020 | Texas Lone Star 3
Contents | April 2020

She is counting on you. Speak up for our children. Speak up for Texas public schools.

standup4txpublicschools.org

Be the Thermostat

Use Training to Effect Change, not Reflect Status Quo

Once a year, all school board presidents in Texas are charged with informing the public about the training each board member has received in the past year. The president reports who has completed the continuing education requirements, who has exceeded the requirements, and who is deficient in meeting the requirements. The announcement must state that the training is a basic obligation of the office and is to be so reflected in the board minutes.

Richard Meadows, a board member for over 40 years now serving on the Fort Elliott CISD Board, recently shared with me his thoughts and memories about school board training through the years. He noted that early on there was no formal training required and that board members received printed guidance from the state. He explained that board members read, studied, and discussed the information among themselves—and there was a lot of visiting with each other regarding each topic.

But Richard assured me they followed Robert’s Rules of Order throughout their meetings. He said they counted on the wisdom of their predecessors and the more experienced board members for guidance. “Just like today, back then we tried to do what was best for kids,” he added.

Videotapes eventually replaced printed literature. “Back in those days, you couldn’t just call your service center,” Richard recalled. “You listened to the old boy who had made those tracks.” He went on to say that now the TASA/TASB Annual Convention is one of the best ways to keep up with what’s going on and to attend the required training. But, he added,

we need “to continue to pay attention to the guys who know some stuff.”

Resources for Training

Today, there is an abundance of training available from a multitude of resources, some of which is required, some informational. Two of the best sources for training are your regional education service center and, of course, TASB. There are nine categories of annual required training, covering topics such as the Texas Education Code, annual team building, training on evaluating student academic performance, training to meet the assessed needs of the local board, and identifying and reporting potential victims of sexual abuse, human trafficking, and other maltreatment of children.

session—regular or called—that affects education. They must also receive training on team building, evaluating student performance, child abuse, and cybersecurity, and five additional hours based on identified needs—for a minimum of nine to 16 hours, depending on the time required to cover major changes.

Be a Change Agent

Scott Barron, author and founder of School Growth Education Services, posits, “No school will sustainably grow beyond the leadership capacity of its school board. The commitment and engagement of board members make a direct impact on the leadership and overall culture of the organization.”

We as board members are entering the season of TASB’s Spring Workshops. Let’s work to grow, share our new knowledge, and improve our local schools. Attend a workshop when they become available again.

First-year board members are expected to receive the most training during their “freshman” year. In the first 90 days they are responsible for receiving training on the Open Meetings Act, and within the first 120 days training on local orientation and the Texas Education Code, as well as training on evaluating student academic performance and identifying and reporting potential maltreatment of children. This is in addition to team building, cybersecurity, and 10 additional hours based on identified needs—for a total of over 25 hours of training.

More “seasoned” members must receive a legislative update after a legislative

Once you receive your training— your new knowledge—how will you use it? Here’s a helpful way to look at it: A thermometer reflects its environment by indicating the temperature. A thermometer exerts no influence on what is around it. However, a thermostat sets the temperature. It is a change agent in its environment. When it comes to your newly acquired knowledge, are you going to be a thermometer or a thermostat? Will you use your training to be a catalyst or just be a bystander merely reflecting the attitudes and decisions of others?

I challenge you to be the thermostat: Apply your new knowledge and use your talents for the betterment of your schools.H

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2020 | Texas Lone Star 5 From the Top
Lee Lentz-Edwards Lee Lentz-Edwards, a Kermit ISD trustee, is 2019-20 president of TASB.
Two of the best sources for training are your regional education service center and TASB.

New board members: We provide your preparation passport

Begin with the Foundations Courses in the TASB Online Learning Center: onlinelearning.tasb.org

Receive in-depth professional development with TASB ISD in courses designed for first-year board members at TASB conferences throughout the year.

Continue with our “Leadership to GO” publications package developed specifically for new members.

For more inFormation, go to tasb.org/welcome.

tasb.org/board-dev Board.Dev@tasb.org 800.580.8272

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Entries Entrées / Entrada

SortiesDepartures / Salidas

Local District Orientation Orientation to the Texas Education Code

Entries Entrées / Entrada

SortiesDepartures / Salidas Visas Visas

NewBoard MemberSeminar

Development Services
Board

Don’t Take the Bait

Well-Trained People Are Best Defense Against Cybercrime

While school districts across the state remain vigilant in their efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus that has prompted worldwide concern, another type of virus—that caused by cybercriminals—should also be on school officials’ radar as a topic of vital importance.

As explained by TASB’s Lucas Anderson in this edition, there is some form of computer ransomware attack in the United States every 14 seconds—and of those attacks, “education has been the most targeted across all sectors since 2016.”

In the days and weeks since Anderson wrote this article, more Texas school districts have become targets of cybercriminal attacks. In early March, a North Texas district was the victim of a ransomware attempt that temporarily affected the district’s website and school district computers.

Multiple Attacks

That cyber-attack came after a string of similar attempts on Texas districts and communities, including a “phishing” scam that targeted a Central Texas district and a ransomware attempt on another district’s website. Phishing, as noted in Anderson’s cover story, involves sending e-mails purporting to be from reputable senders in order to induce individuals to reveal personal or sensitive information or to direct visits to malicious websites or open corrupt attachments.

Additionally, a Florida man was recently convicted of stealing $2 million from a district in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in a computer e-mail scam in 2018. In 2017, several North Texas districts

were notified by the Texas Department of Agriculture that they were likely exposed to a data breach, noting that the personal information of some 700 students across 39 districts could have been leaked when an employee’s laptop was targeted by a ransomware attack.

Culture of Cybersecurity

Although districts, regional education service centers, and state agencies and associations have installed multi-layered, sophisticated technological defenses against the rising tide of cybercriminal activities, the best defense involves training people to recognize suspicious e-activity.

As Anderson notes, “Develop a staff culture of cybersecurity. Encourage a healthy amount of suspicion of every attachment, every link, and every request for a payment modification. Especially think twice when a contact seems to be applying emotional pressure.”

Read Anderson’s feature story, entitled “Beyond Digital Defenses,” beginning on page 12.H

“All I know is all of a sudden my computer stopped working on Tuesday morning,” a school district official told the local public radio station. “We did lose some access to material, but we don’t anticipate it’ll be lost forever. We have been working on it with Cisco and with Microsoft to retrieve that information.”

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Editor’s Footnote
Public Ed! Copyright 2020 TASB by White & Severns
Roger White is managing editor of Texas Lone Star Cyber Security Deployed. Perimeter Secured.
...A
Be
Tappity-tappity-
I don’t think Mr. Bradley grasps the concept of cybersecurity!
little wire...
secure! Cyber
Team! To the left and right: POST!!!
tappity...
“Encourage a healthy amount of suspicion of every attachment, every link, and every request for a payment modification.”

MONITORING THE

8 Texas Lone Star | April 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
DISTRICTS, COMMUNITIES WORKING TO STAY UPDATED ON LATEST COVID-19 INFORMATION

Editor’s note: The COVID-19 situation is changing hourly. Readers are urged to stay upto-date with developments regarding facility closings, event cancellations, lockdown measures, and urgent news. Texas Governor Greg Abbott on March 19 issued an executive order indefinitely shutting down all schools and limiting public gatherings to 10 people.

As fear and concern rise across the globe due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19), the Texas Governor’s Office, Texas Education Agency (TEA), state and local health officials, and school districts across the state are closely monitoring information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies regarding the virus. Additionally, TEA is working closely with other agencies to prepare guidance for public school districts.

To keep our members informed and up-to-date, TASB is maintaining a regularly updated list of resources helpful to trustees and districts. At tasb.org/ covid-19-resources.aspx, you’ll find legal, policy, and personnel topics, as well as links to food-service-related sources and links to state and national authorities. You’ll also find links to information regarding TEA’s cancellation of STAAR exams for the remainder of the school year, resources on postponement and protocol regarding elections, and the governor’s suspension of certain Texas Open Meetings Act (OMA) provisions during this outbreak.

On the TASB home page (tasb.org), select “Role of the Board in COVID-19” to find information and advice on the vital role of the local leadership team during times of crisis. Advice on responding to infectious diseases is also provided by TASB Legal Services on the TASB School Law eSource site at tasb.org/services/legal-services/tasb-school-law-esource/ students/documents/responding-to-risk-of-infectious-disease-in-publicschs.pdf.

A special edition of The Star, TASB’s monthly electronic newsletter, also contains important resources, including links to the governor’s executive orders on school closings, election postponements, and temporary changes to OMA requirements. Read this special issue of The Star, published March 20, at tasb.org/services/the-star/archive/2020/march-2020.aspx.

Additionally, you may sign up to receive important information texts from TASB as news develops. Text TASBALERTS to 313131

Prevention Measures

Texas Health and Human Services encourages all Texans in need of COVID-19 information and referrals to community resources to call the 211 Texas hotline. For general health-related information and precautions on COVID-19, visit the Texas Department of State Health Services website at https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/ and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Though schools throughout the state are closed indefinitely, the situation is changing rapidly and it’s important for school districts and community leaders to bear in mind how to prevent respiratory illnesses such as the coronavirus.

Based on the most current information, health officials are recommending staying at home and maintaining “social distancing”—avoiding public gatherings and keeping at least six feet of separation from other individuals. While health authorities work on COVID-19 testing protocols and possible

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treatments and vaccines, local communities are urged to take the same necessary steps to protect against coronavirus that are taken to prevent the spread of illnesses such as the flu. While these measures are simple, they work. All individuals are encouraged to:

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

• If you’ve not already gotten one, a flu shot is encouraged.

TEA, in regular contact with the state’s 20 regional education service centers, school districts, and the University Interscholastic League, continues to develop guidance for districts. For the latest information from the agency, visit https://tea.texas.gov/#Coronavirus%20(COVID-19) . TEA stated that it is committed to ensuring that clear communication and guidance are provided to the state’s 1,200 school districts so that misinformation does not spread and misplaced fears can be properly addressed. Meanwhile, the CDC has issued a warning to expect a wider spread of the coronavirus in the United States, noting that it remains unclear how severe the health threat could be. At press time, several states had issued lockdown orders, instructing citizens to stay in their homes.

About the Coronavirus

In late 2019, reports emerged of a mysterious illness in China, eventually identified as a new type of coronavirus. The virus was believed to have come from a seafood market in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei province. The coronavirus, called COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, is a cousin of the SARS virus. SARS—or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome—is a viral respiratory disease that originated in southern China and caused approximately 8,000 confirmed cases between November 2002 and July 2003.

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. The viruses can infect humans,

usually with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, similar to a common cold. Coronavirus symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, and sometimes a headache and fever, which can last for several days. This particular coronavirus—COVID-19—can rapidly become deadly, however, especially to those with weakened immune systems. At press time, no vaccine had yet been developed against it.

Tens of thousands of cases had been confirmed in mainland China as of mid-March, with thousands more cases in other countries and territories. The fatality rate is less than 2 percent, according to world health officials. Authorities are now trying to stop the virus spreading further, restricting millions of people from traveling and introducing strict quarantines.

State, National Resources

TEA encourages the use and promotion of verified sources of information about the flu and coronavirus. On the national level, the CDC provides guidance on COVID-19 protections, symptoms, and guidelines for those who think they may have the disease. Information, updated regularly, is at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.

As noted at the beginning of this story, TASB maintains a COVID-19 information page at tasb.org/covid-19-resources.aspx. Additionally, TASB Legal Services staff is available at legal@tasb.org or 800.580.5345 for questions concerning the legal implications of any COVID-19-related issues in your district. The TASB Legal Line can be accessed by the decision makers of the district at no additional charge to the district.

On the state level, the TDSHS provides information regarding the flu (dshs.texas.gov/flu/) and coronavirus (dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/). TDSHS continues to mobilize, prepare, and plan for ways to keep Texans safe as new information emerges.

The National School Boards Association recently published a webpage—nsba.org/resources/coronavirus containing information and resources to help school board members with preparedness and mitigation efforts.

TASB will continue to monitor the situation as it develops. Check tasb.org and other Association resources regularly for the latest information.H

Roger White is managing editor of Texas Lone Star

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Planning for Coronavirus in Your School District

First, school leaders should follow guidance from your state education agency and public health department, along with their counterparts at the county and local levels. Many state agencies are posting frequent updates on coronavirus (COVID-19) risk levels, numbers of cases, and recommended precautions. They are in close contact with the CDC, which is coordinating health system responses at the national level.

Communicate clearly and regularly with school staff about recommended precautions, such as handwashing. Ensure that school nurses are connected to the most recent information and are following required protocols. The National Association of School Nurses offers guidance to school nurses and to principals and superintendents for implementing CDC recommendations. For more information, visit nasn.org/covid19.

Second, after ensuring that your school district is in compliance with federal, state, and local health protocols, you should prepare for a possible disease outbreak in your community consistent with your existing school safety plans that take into account the specific needs of the students and families in your community. School safety plans should use an all-hazards approach that addresses many types of risks, including pandemic disease.

Consider the following when making decisions:

• Disease severity (i.e., number of people who are sick, hospitalization, and death rates) in the community where schools are located

• Impact of disease on vulnerable employees and students who may be at higher risk for COVID-19 adverse health complications, including early childhood students, older adults, and those with chronic medical conditions

School systems with multiple locations spread out over a large geographic region are encouraged to take appropriate actions outlined in their infectious disease outbreak response plans based on the condition in each locality, with guidance from local and state public health authorities.

Should COVID-19 become epidemic, the CDC offers the following guidance for employers:

• Encourage sick employees to stay home

• Enact sick leave policies that are flexible and consistent with public health guidance

Additionally, ensure routine cleaning of high-touch surfaces before students arrive and leave for the day. Disinfect commonly used surfaces with approved products and consider deep cleaning for disease outbreaks.

Source: National School Boards Association

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Digital Defenses Beyond

Social Engineering and the Psychology of Cybercrime

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It only takes a quick look at recent headlines to realize that cybercriminal activity is on the rise. According to an annual cybersecurity report from CPO magazine (a leading publication on data privacy and protection), in the United States alone, there is a ransomware attack every 14 seconds. Additionally, of those ransomware attacks, education has been the most targeted across all sectors since 2016. In fact, at least 500 schools were successfully infected with ransomware in 2019.

Those are frightening figures, but they’re even more disturbing when you realize that only an estimated 10 percent of cybercriminal activity is likely being reported.

While those numbers might have you running to increase the size of your IT department or purchase the latest and greatest new firewall or antivirus protection, it’s important to keep in mind that cybersecurity is not only a digital issue. The common thinking that technological problems must have technological solutions ignores one of the most crucial components of a strong cybersecurity stance: people.

Con Artists with Computers

When confronting the challenges associated with improving your overall network security, it can be helpful to see hackers for what they really are. Though they sometimes employ relatively sophisticated pieces of malicious software (malware), they’re basically con artists with computers. Understanding hackers in this way allows us to better inform staff members on how to recognize the kinds of confidence traps that frequently lead to network compromise.

Think about it. Why would cybercriminals spend the time and money to develop a new piece of malware to gain access to your system when they can simply fool an unsuspecting person on your staff? Hackers employ the same pressure levers that more traditional con artists have used for centuries. Fear, greed, carelessness, and the perception of authority are the emotional tools that they use to “socially engineer” their victims into giving up the sensitive information they seek.

Let’s examine a few recent instances in which these types of techniques were used by cybercriminals to better understand this phenomenon.

Recent Cases

School District of Manatee County, Florida. In February 2017, Manatee ISD was hit by a “Business E-mail Compromise (BEC)/W2” phishing scam. Phishing uses e-mail, telephone, or text messages designed to appear that they are from legitimate institutions to lure victims into providing sensitive data. This particular BEC scam is a persistent and ongoing cybercriminal operation that targets school districts, tribal casinos, chain restaurants, temp agencies, and even healthcare service providers.

So what happened? Cybercriminal actors sent an e-mail that forged the superintendent’s e-mail address (referred to as “spoofing”) to district HR and finance staff members. The phony superintendent then requested the W2s of the entire Manatee ISD staff.

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Though hackers employ relatively sophisticated pieces of malicious software, they’re basically con artists with computers.

Unfortunately, the district personnel took the bait. The hacker received the tax information for all 7,500 district employees. As a result, the employees filed (and won) a $300,000 class-action lawsuit. The district was required to purchase an $80,000 policy for several years of identity-theft monitoring for the impacted staff members. Additionally, one of the employees responsible was reprimanded, and another was removed from her position.

How was it that this cybercriminal was successful? He did spoof the e-mail address via technical means; however, the key to his success was emotional pressure. The employees in HR and finance saw an e-mail from the “superintendent” and instead of thinking “why would he want all those w2s?” they thought “if the superintendent needs something, we’ll get it done immediately.”

The hacker counted on the fear of doing a bad job, the perception that an authority figure made the request, or even the inattention of employees to achieve his objectives.

Scott County Schools, Kentucky. In April 2019, Scott County Schools were targeted by an “outstanding invoice/fraudulent instruction” attack. The hacker did some research and determined which third-party vendor the school was using for an ongoing infrastructure upgrade project. At that point, it was simple to spoof an e-mail, create false documentation, and then masquerade as this vendor in order to demand payment on an invoice for $3.7 million.

The hacker created additional pressure by claiming that the payment was two weeks overdue. In response, the finance staff panicked that they had overlooked such a significant payment and, at the request of the “vendor,” set up a new routing account for immediate funds transfer. Luckily, in this case, the district contacted the FBI within hours of the attack, and they were able to recover the entire payment.

But again, we see that though there was a digital component here via the e-mail spoofing, the primary factors for success were those of fear, perceived authority, and carelessness.

Texas school districts have not been immune to attacks. In January 2020, a school district in Central Texas suffered an attack via phishing. The hacker spoofed e-mails, fabricated a trusted identity, and was able to complete three separate fraudulent transactions resulting in a $2.3-million loss. The local police department is collaborating with the FBI; they have recovered approximately $800,000 of the initial loss. Meanwhile, law enforcement has several strong leads and hopes to recover additional funds.

Once again, we see that beyond creating legitimate-looking e-mail addresses, these cybercriminals did not need to use sophisticated software to execute their attack. They used fear, trust, and the inattention of employees to ensure they reaped their rewards.

Preventive Measures

We live in a digitally connected world, and cybercriminal activity is not going to disappear anytime soon. These types of social engineering attacks are on the rise because they are easy to launch and have the potential for large payouts.

What can we do to prevent their future success? Here are some tips:

• Train your staff on how to recognize fraudulent/spoofed e-mails. This can be done via general cybersecurity awareness training.

• Develop a staff culture of cybersecurity. Encourage a healthy amount of suspicion of every attachment, every link, and every request for a payment modification. Especially think twice when a contact seems to be applying emotional pressure.

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Beyond creating legitimate-looking e-mail addresses, these cybercriminals used fear, trust, and the inattention of employees to ensure they reaped their rewards.

• Institute an additional verification policy for any requests to modify payment methods, routing numbers, or the like. Staff should check with a district supervisor and verify with an established point of contact for third-party vendors before providing large payments or changing payment arrangements.

• Configure a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tool. These tools work with your e-mail security to scan for sensitive information. They can prevent such data from leaving your network by accident.H

Lucas Anderson is a privacy and cyber risk consultant with TASB Risk Management.

Terms to Know

Ransomware: A form of cyberextortion in which malware is designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid

Phishing: Sending e-mails purporting to be from reputable senders in order to induce individuals to reveal personal or sensitive information or to direct visits to malicious websites or open corrupt attachments

Spear Phishing: More sophisticated form of phishing in which an attacker develops a profile of a specific target in order to gain the target’s trust and improve chances of a successful attack

Whale Phishing: Form of phishing in which malicious actors target high-level users, such as CEOs, superintendents, or users with administrative rights

Vishing: Practice of making fraudulent phone calls or leaving voice messages purporting to be from reputable companies to gain access to sensitive information or provide fraudulent instruction

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2020 | Texas Lone Star 15

ARE WE TRULY ADDRESSING

Special Needs?

Every school day across the state, our most vulnerable learners with disabilities are served in special education and Section 504. Both programs were created to provide an education that addresses their individual uniqueness. These programs find their nexus in federal law. Both programs are earmarked by an amazingly complex assortment of requirements. The nuances of the two programs often can be confusing to educators who oversee them, not to mention the teachers and administrators who must implement them and the parents and students who navigate them to receive services. For many, it is a highly functional process where children excel through individualized programming and supports and the hard work of dedicated staff.

Unfortunately for others, the processes are mired in dysfunction and inefficiencies. Recently in Texas, the state has been under much scrutiny for its special needs services. To truly unpack things and better understand the reform our state is undergoing, we must have a better understanding of the programs themselves.

Purpose of the Programs

Special education is mandated through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which was most recently reauthorized in 2004 with regulations following in 2006 and 2011. Section 504, on the other hand, is a section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 provides a wide range of protections against discrimination on the basis of disability. In

BETTER UNDERSTANDING, MORE RESOURCES ARE NEEDED TO SHORE UP IDEA, SECTION 504 PROGRAMS IN TEXAS
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2016, the US Department of Justice significantly expanded the population that receives coverage under the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act (ADAAA), which impacted Section 504 programs.

While both programs are rooted in federal laws aimed at educating children with disabilities, there are subtle but important differences between the two programs.

IDEA

According to the US Department of Education (USDE), IDEA has six primary purposes (https://sites.ed.gov/idea/about-idea/#IDEAPurpose):

1. Ensure that all children with a disability receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) that meets their unique needs

2. Assist various agencies to ensure that all children with disabilities who are in need of special education and related services are identified, located, and evaluated

3. Ensure that an individualized education program (IEP) is developed, reviewed, and revised for each child with a disability

4. Assess and ensure effective education for children with disabilities in the least restrictive environment (LRE)

5. Ensure that parents have the opportunity to participate in each step of the process

6. Ensure that the rights of children and parents are protected and understood

These six purposes are accomplished through grant funds to the state—and then to local school districts. There are no federal or state funds associated with serving Section 504 students.

Not every child with a disability is eligible for special education under IDEA. To qualify, a child must have a disability that falls under one of the 13 covered categories:

• Autism

• Deaf blindness

• Deafness

• Emotional disturbance

• Hearing impairment

• Intellectual disability

• Multiple disabilities

• Orthopedic impairment

• Other health impairment

• Specific learning disability (may include dyslexia)

• Speech or language impairment

• Traumatic brain injury

• Visual impairment, including blindness

To qualify for special education services, a child must have been identified with at least one of the above disabilities. Additionally, the disability must have an impact on learning that would necessitate the need for specially designed instruction (SDI) to make progress in school.

Students identified for special education must be evaluated, and a full and individual evaluation (FIE) must be completed within established timelines. In Texas, the timeline for initial evaluation is stricter than the federally mandated timeline (see region10.org/r10website/ assets/File/Visual_Timeline_2.pdf). Student identification must be reviewed every three years under IDEA.

Section 504

While IDEA limits those served to students who qualify under the 13 covered categories, Section 504 has a much wider definition of disability. Section 504 states that: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in Section 706(8) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…” [29 U.S.C. §794(a), 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a)].

Protections under Section 504 cover students who have physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one of more major life activities. Per Section 504, major life activities include but are not limited to self-care, manual tasks, walking, seeing, speaking, sitting, thinking, learning, breathing, concentrating, interacting with others, working, reading, concentrating, standing, lifting, bending, etc. Per ADAAA, mitigating measures may not be considered except regular eyeglasses or contact lenses when determining if a child has a covered condition.

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It is clear that Section 504 has a much wider-reaching net than IDEA. The key to Section 504 is understanding that having the condition is only the first consideration.

To qualify for support under Section 504, a student must have an impairment that substantially limits the major activity. However, the term “substantially limits” is not defined in the federal regulations. A letter from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) states, “this is a determination to be made by each local school district and depends on the nature and severity of the person’s disabling condition.”

In action, this means that school districts should be measuring a student’s limitations against his or her non-disabled peers of the same age in the general population without any mitigation such as medication, assistive technology, or accommodations.

Students are identified for Section 504 by persons knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the data, placement conditions, and support options. Under Section 504, formalized testing is not required. The 504 team or committee reviews various sources of data and makes the final determination.

IDEA, Section 504 Services

IDEA focuses on specific disability categories and providing specialized instruction, while Section 504 concentrates on providing an education that provides an education free of discrimination. All in all, the primary differences between the two programs are related to the depth, breadth, and types of services and supports provided. Bear in mind that children served under IDEA are essentially also served under Section 504.

IDEA Section 504

• Strict identification and evaluation requirements

• Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

• Requires FAPE—program designed to provide educational benefit for a person with disabilities

• Requires education be provided in least restrictive environment (LRE)—may be a combination of special education and general education classrooms

• May result in related services

• Accommodations and modifications allowed

• More rights (inclusive of those provided under Section 504)

• Protection ends upon high school graduation

• High level of flexibility

• Requires identification and evaluation

• 504 Accommodation Plan

• Requires FAPE—education comparable to the education provided to those students who are not disabled

• Requires education be provided in least restrictive environment (LRE)—placement in general education classroom

• May result in related services

• Accommodations allowed

• Fewer rights (does not include those provided under IDEA)

• Eligible for life

Texas Challenge

Historically, both special education and Section 504 programs have been a maze to navigate, so much so that Texas ran afoul of the USDE in 2018 after an investigation spurred by a series of articles published in the Houston Chronicle in 2016. The USDE determined that the state had denied federally required services and support to students with disabilities. As a result, the state was required to submit a Corrective Action Plan to address the findings of the investigation. (See the June 2018 edition of Texas Lone Star, page 20.)

TEA has centered its Corrective Action Plan efforts on three areas: monitoring, training support and development, and student and family engagement. In the past two years, TEA has hired additional staff to support various initiatives and has created a website that is continuously updated. Additionally, numerous webinars and videos have been created that focus on topics aligned to the action plan.

TEA’s work of monitoring began in earnest at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. Districts were required to complete a self-assessment rubric and directed to maintain documentation for TEA staff to review when requested. During the first year of monitoring, each region had between six to 18 school districts identified for cyclical monitoring.

Tyrell L. White, who oversees special education in six districts in ESC Region 9, started

18 Texas Lone Star | April 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org

working on cyclical monitoring with the identified districts in their shared service arrangement early in the year.

“The new monitoring process is meant to improve special education programming in our state,” White said. “If districts are deliberate and intentional about the process, program improvement will follow.”

According to Justin Porter, TEA’s director of Special Education, seven areas comprised 83 percent of all non-compliance findings between 2014 and 2018.

At this time, TEA is not auditing Section 504 programs. Parents or students with concerns regarding Section 504 programs should express those concerns in writing to their district so they may be identified. Should a deep look at Section 504 programs occur, similarities for districts may be found. Districts may wish to step back and look at their special education and Section 504 programs for compliance regardless of audit requirements.

All districts will begin to submit Operating Procedures (formally Operating Guidelines) for review in October 2020. This process will begin with the submission of three areas and expand to all requirements under IDEA. Information about this requirement is being communicated through various channels, such as special education director meetings at regional ESCs and at Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE) conferences.

TASB is introducing a Student Solutions membership that will provide model Operating Procedures for districts beginning in September 2020. It is important that districts be prepared for this requirement by determining how they will meet compliance standards.

Training support and development is ongoing across the state. In addition to the ESCs, other entities such as colleges and universities are playing a critical part in this process. The focus of activities and resources is on improving practice of teachers, principals, and systems to support students with special needs. According to TEA, Special Education Academies will be introduced in the future.

Student and family engagement is an additional focus area to ensure that families are knowledgeable and able to engage in the educational decisions for their children. SPEDTex, the Special Education Information Center, works collaboratively with stakeholders to provide resources and facilitate collaboration that supports the development and delivery of services to children with disabilities in Texas. Resources and trainings are a key component to address concerns parents and families face.

TEA has also increased activity regarding Section 504. For the first time in recent history, a Section 504 coordinator was hired for the

Texas Special Education Areas with Most Non-Compliance Complaints 2014-18

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Evaluation & Child Fund 0.00% 5.00% 10.00% 15.00% 13.74% 11.48% 10.17% 8.61% 7.30% 6.83% 20.00% 25.00% 25.13% 30.00% Assessment IEP Development IEP Content IEP Implementation Properly Constituted ARDs Transition Requirement Source: TEA

state. This, partnered with an increase in communication, resources, and training, indicates the state’s recognition of the importance of Section 504 topics.

The work by TEA is only one of the necessary steps for improvement for special education. At the district level, leaders must be trained and prepared while staying up-to-date with local, state, and national developments. IDEA and Section 504 are complex and require special knowledge and skills to address the variety of needs students and staff face.

What Trustees Need to Know

As members of their communities, school board members are many times in the best position to know and understand the population served by their schools. However, it is important they realize the pivotal role they play in championing their special education and Section 504 programs. This responsibility means not only knowing the community but also knowing the needs their students have.

When school board members consider how to improve special education and Section 504 programs in their districts, it may be helpful for them to reflect on the following questions:

• What is staff doing to ensure that students with disabilities are being identified and served appropriately?

• Are the special education and Section 504 programs in alignment with regulations and best practice?

• Are staff members trained to meet the increased and emerging needs of students?

• How can the board be prepared to address the fiscal needs associated with increased evaluations, services, and supports?

• What is the district doing to be prepared for increased monitoring?

Call for Action

During the 2013-14 school year, 12.2 percent of all students in the country were reported as identified under IDEA. This ranges from 16.3

percent in Massachusetts to 8.6 percent in Texas, which ranks last in overall identification.

Likewise, 1.8 percent of all students in the country were reported as identified with being solely served under Section 504. This ranges from 5.5 percent in New Hampshire to 0.3 percent in Mississippi. Texas ranks sixth-largest in the nation with 3.6 percent of students identified.

With the ever-increasing identification of children with disabilities under both IDEA and Section 504, it is essential that we shore up special programs. Our children, families, and communities need us to be well-prepared to address the diverse needs that will be faced.

The first step begins with having skilled staff who are trained appropriately. Recent results from the Council for Exceptional Children’s State of the Special Education Profession report show that according to those surveyed, less than 25 percent of teachers and administrators are prepared to support students with special needs. Many districts struggle with recruiting and retaining those licensed and skilled in working with children with special needs. It is essential that they create training and support to assist those hired in staying up-to-date with best practices.

Without such supports, districts will continue to see a revolving door of both professional and paraprofessional staff. Together, we must speak up and tell those who represent us at the state and national levels about the vital importance of full funding, support for high-quality preparation for all educators, means for addressing chronic educator shortages, and the need for streamlined programming.H

20 Texas Lone Star | April 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
Karlyn Keller, EdD, is division director of TASB Special Education and Student Solutions.
texaslonestaronline.org | April 2020 | Texas Lone Star 21

Wearing Two Hats?

A Q&A on Dual Office Holding Issues for Trustees

Questions often arise as to whether school board candidates or trustees may run for or hold another public office while running for or serving on the school board. The answer is rarely a simple yes or no. In some cases, the Texas Constitution, a statute, the attorney general, or a court has specifically considered whether it is permissible for one person to run for or hold the two public offices in question. In other cases, the answer requires analysis of several legal authorities.

Drawing from these sources, this article addresses some of the situations that school board members may face when trying to hold more than one public office or position simultaneously.

Q: Must a candidate resign from an office held to run for another office?

A: The first issue that a potential candidate must address is whether the Texas Constitution requires resignation from a current public office in order to be a candidate for another one. The resign to run provision states that specified county or district officers who have over a year and 30 days left in their current term of office automatically resign from that office if they become a candidate for any “office of profit or trust.”1 The provision applies to the offices listed below:

• Constables and sheriffs

• County and district attorneys

• County and district clerks

• County commissioners

• County judges and judges of county courts at law, county criminal courts, county probate courts, and county domestic relations courts

• County surveyors

• County treasurers

• Justices of the peace

• Public weighers

• Tax assessors and collectors

The resign to run provision also applies to certain city officers under Texas Constitution Article 11, Section 11(a), if the city has provided for a longer term of office than two years.2 In addition, a home-rule city charter may provide that a city officer automatically resigns from office upon becoming a candidate for another office.3

a year and 30 days remaining in the person’s term automatically resigns that office upon becoming a candidate for school board trustee.4 A person who resigns under the resign to run provision holds over in the office under the constitutional holdover doctrine until a successor qualifies for office.5

In addition to the Texas Constitution, state law may affect whether a current school board member may run for a specific office while continuing to serve on the school board. For example,

The office of school board trustee is not subject to the resign to run provision. Thus, under the Texas Constitution, a school board trustee is not required to resign to run for another public office. Because school board trustee is an office of trust under Texas law, however, a person holding a specified office with more than

Texas Education Code Section 7.103(a) provides that a person is not eligible for election to or service on the State Board of Education (SBOE) if the person holds another public office. According to the attorney general, this means that a school board member must resign from the school board prior to the date of

22 Texas Lone Star | April 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org Legal News
In addition to the Texas Constitution, state law may affect whether a current school board member may run for a specific office while continuing to serve on the school board.

the general election for a place on the SBOE.6

If the resign to run provision or another statute does not apply, a person may run for a second public office while continuing to hold the first.7 If elected, however, the question arises as to whether the person may legally accept the second office without resigning from the first.

Q: When may a candidate legally accept a second office?

A: Two tests must be satisfied before a person may legally hold more than one public office. The first test arises from the Texas Constitution, and the second test is known as the common-law doctrine of incompatibility.

Texas Constitution. Texas Constitution Article XVI, Section 40(a), states, “No person shall hold or exercise at the same time, more than one civil office of emolument.”

• School Board Trustees: A civil office of emolument is a position in which the public official receives “a pecuniary profit, gain, or advantage” for the official’s service.8 An

emolument includes any amount received in excess of actual expenses.9 Because Texas Education Code Section 11.061(d) mandates that school board trustees serve without compensation, the constitutional prohibition does not apply to the office of school board trustee and would not bar a school board trustee from holding another elected office.

• School District Employees: The Texas Constitution also gives guidance to school employees seeking public office with another governmental body, such as city council, that may be compensated: State employees or other individuals who receive all or part of their compensation either directly or indirectly from funds of the State of

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Texas and who are not State officers, shall not be barred from serving as members of the governing bodies of school districts, cities, towns, or other local governmental districts. Such State employees or other individuals may not receive a salary for serving as members of such governing bodies except that a schoolteacher, retired schoolteacher, or retired school administrator may receive compensation for serving as a member of a governing body of a school district, city, town, or local governmental district, including a water district...10

In the attorney general’s opinion, whether a person is a “schoolteacher”

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2020 | Texas Lone Star 23
If a school district employee does not qualify as a “schoolteacher,” the person may not receive compensation for serving in public office.
in
NEW

for purposes of this provision depends on whether the person directly instructs students in required curriculum.11 If a school district employee does not qualify as a “schoolteacher,” the person may not receive compensation for serving in public office.12

Common-Law Incompatibility. The common-law doctrine of incompatibility bars a person from holding more than one public office if the offices conflict with each other.13 This doctrine “is premised upon the desire to protect the integrity of state and local governments by promoting impartial service by local officials.”14 The doctrine comprises three aspects:

• Self-Appointment: This aspect is implicated when a public official is both a member of a governmental body making an appointment and that body’s appointee.15 According to the Texas Supreme Court, “all officers who have the appointing power are disqualified for appointment to the offices to which they may appoint.”16 In other words, one cannot hold two separate positions in which one is subordinate and accountable to the other.17

• Self-Employment: An office and an employment may be incompatible if the office has the power to appoint or supervise the employee or if the duties of the positions and the relationship between them create a significant risk that one will

impose its policies on the other.18 The key aspect of self-employment incompatibility is supervision.19 The best example of this in a school district would be a person serving as both a teacher and a school board trustee in the same district.20

• Conflicting Loyalties: This aspect of incompatibility exists if the duties of two offices are or may be inconsistent or in conflict; however, conflicting loyalties do not exist if the duties are completely unre-

disinterested judgment in either or both positions.”23

Conflicting loyalties incompatibility applies only in situations involving two offices and not an office and an employment.24 In addressing whether a school board trustee could serve as an umpire at district baseball games, the attorney general stated that the determining factor that distinguishes a public officer from an employee is whether the person can exercise any sovereign function of the government for the benefit of the public, independent of the control of others.25

Q: What does the attorney general say?

A: The attorney general has addressed numerous instances of dual office holding. While the reasoning in previous opinions can help evaluate and predict whether a specific dual office holding situation is permissible, it is important to review relevant opinions to ensure that the facts and circumstances are sufficiently similar.

Some general rules can be gleaned from the attorney general’s opinions:

• Two offices are likely incompatible if the jurisdictional boundaries of the governing bodies overlap, es-

lated, in no manner inconsistent, and never in conflict.21 “The crucial question is whether the occupancy of both offices by the same person is detrimental to the public interest or whether the performance of the duties of one interferes with the performance of those of the other.”22 In other words, this doctrine “prohibits an individual from simultaneously holding two positions that would prevent him... from exercising independent and

pecially if both bodies have taxing authority because the object of each entity is to maximize revenue, and one individual would have difficulty fully exercising the duties to each governmental body.26

• Two offices are likely incompatible if a contract exists between the two governing bodies.27

• Two offices are likely incompatible if one entity can exert authority contrary to the interests of the other.28

• Two offices are likely incompatible

24 Texas Lone Star | April 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
“The crucial question is whether the occupancy of both offices by the same person is detrimental to the public interest or whether the performance of the duties of one interferes with the performance of those of the other.”

If two offices are incompatible, a person automatically resigns from the first office upon qualifying for and accepting the second.30 The person does not hold over in the first office under the constitutional holdover doctrine.31

When faced with a dual office holding question, a prospective candidate or board member should consult his or her personal attorney or TASB Legal Services at 800.580.5345.H

1Tex. Const. art. XVI, § 65.

2See Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. JC-403 (2001) (concluding that a city commissioner with more than a year left on a term in excess of two years automatically resigned upon announcing candidacy for school board trustee).

3Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. GA-217 (2004).

4Ramirez v. Flores, 505 S.W.2d 406 (Tex. Civ. App.—San Antonio 1973, writ ref'd n.r.e.).

5Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. Nos. JC-403 (2001), JC-318 (2000), DM-377 (1996); Tex. Const. art. XVI, § 17.

6Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. WW-165 (1957).

7See Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. KP-14 (2015) (the incompatibility of two offices does not preclude running for a second office).

8Irwin v. State, 177 S.W.2d 970 (Tex. Crim. App. 1944).

9Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. Nos. GA-32 (2003), JC-490 (2002).

10Tex. Const. art. XVI, § 40(b).

11Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. Nos. KP-211 (2018), GA-530 (2007).

12See Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. KP-211 (2018) (considering whether three school district employees—counselor, assistant principal, and special education coordinator—could receive compensation for city council service).

13Thomas v. Abernathy County Line Indep. Sch. Dist., 290 S.W.152 (Tex. Comm’n App. 1927); Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. JM-129 (1984).

14Tex. Att’y Gen. LO-95-029 (1995).

15Tex. Att’y Gen. LO-95-029 (1995).

16Ehlinger v. Clark, 8 S.W.2d 666, 674 (Tex. 1928). See also Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. JM934 (1988) (confirming that officers may not appoint themselves to another office).

17Tex. Att’y Gen. LO-95-029 (citing Turner v. Trinity Indep. Sch. Dist., 700 S.W.2d 1 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1983, no writ); Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. Nos. JM-934 (1988), C-452 (1965); Tex. Att’y Gen. LA-114 (1975).

18Tex. Att’y Gen. LO-95-029 (1995).

19Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. GA-536 (2007).

20See Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. JC-371 (2001) (concluding that a school district trustee is barred by self-employment incompatibility from serving as a teacher in the same district, even if unpaid). But see Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. DM-55 (1991) (concluding that a teacher may teach in one district and serve on the board of another if the teacher is otherwise qualified to serve on the board).

21Tex. Att’y Gen. LO-95-029 (1995).

22Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. KP-54, at 2 (2015) (quoting State ex rel. Hill v. Pirtle, 887 S.W.2d 921, 930 (Tex. Crim. App. 1994)).

23Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. KP-119, at 2 (2016) (quoting Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. GA-169 (2004)).

24Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. GA-536 (2007).

25Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. GA-127 (2003); see also Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. KP-32 (2015) (concluding that incompatibility did not bar a school district police chief from serving as constable in the precinct where the school district was located); Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. GA-688 (2009) (concluding that incompatibility did not bar school district police chief from serving on city council for a city in the district).

26See Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. KP-125 (2017) (offices of public library trustee and city council member); Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. GA-224 (2004) (offices of school board trustee and water improvement district board member); Tex. Att’y Gen. LO-92-004 (1992) (offices of tax assessor-collector and school board trustee).

27See Tex. Att’y Gen. LO-92-004 (1992) (concluding that a person may not simultaneously hold the position of county tax assessor-collector and school board trustee if the school district contracts with the county to assess and collect its taxes).

28See Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. KP-119 (2016) (concluding that appointed community college trustee and county commissioner are likely incompatible).

29See Tex. Att’y Gen. LO-98-094(1998) (concluding that district judge could not serve as trustee for school district within the jurisdiction of the judge’s court).

30Tex. Elec. Code § 201.025; Pruitt v. Glen Rose Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 1, 84 S.W.2d 1004, 1006 (Tex. Comm’n App. 1935, judgm’t adopted); Thomas v. Abernathy County Line Indep. Sch. Dist., 290 S.W.152 (Tex. Comm’n App. 1927, judgm’t adopted); Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. JM-634 (1987); Tex. Att’y Gen. LO-92-004 (1992).

31Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. KP-125 (2017) (citing Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. No. GA-15 (2003); Tex. Const. art. XVI, § 17).

Kristi Clark is lead attorney for TASB Legal Services.

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texaslonestaronline.org | April 2020 | Texas Lone Star 25
when one governmental body has the authority to impose its will on the other.29
ESS

Grassroots Input

Trustees Begin Determining TASB’s Legislative Agenda

During the 21 regional Grassroots Meetings held across the state recently, hundreds of trustees told TASB what they believe the Association should advocate for next session. The Grassroots Meetings are the first step in the development of the TASB Advocacy Priorities, which will guide the Association’s advocacy efforts during the upcoming legislative session.

Not surprisingly, student mental health jumped to the top of many region’s local priorities as trustees expressed their belief that mental health issues affect many aspects of public education—from student discipline to special education services to teacher retention.

Attendees also voiced concern about the state’s ability to maintain the funding levels created under House Bill 3 last session and the uncertainty surrounding how the bill’s formulas will ultimately affect districts. They also highlighted other local priorities, such as increasing transparency of charter schools, maintaining the voice of public schools and other local governmental entities at the Texas Capitol, and opposing the privatization of public education through vouchers or other means.

Attendee evaluations show that members continue to find value in the Grassroots Meetings and, overwhelmingly, remarked positively on the discussion of priority issues and the legislative updates provided by TASB staff during the meetings.

At the meetings, school trustees and administrators were tasked with identifying their regional priorities via a brief survey and had the opportunity to discuss those issues and their impact on their local students and schools. Attendees then selected trustees to serve on the Association’s Legislative Advisory Council (LAC), which will review all regional priorities and draft one comprehensive legislative agenda for TASB.

After the LAC has developed a statewide list of priorities, the TASB Legislative Committee will review the agenda and send it to the TASB Board of Directors, which will review and approve it before the TASB Delegate Assembly ultimately adopts the TASB Advocacy Agenda in October.

Call for Resolutions Open

Members have until June 15 to submit legislative issues for the 2020-22 Advocacy Agenda. TASB is encouraging all member districts to consider submitting resolutions for inclusion in the agenda.

Advocacy Resolutions guide TASB’s response to legislative issues that may arise during the legislative session and are not addressed in TASB’s Priorities. While Advocacy Priorities arise from member collaboration during TASB’s Grassroots Meetings, member districts directly submit proposed resolutions regarding

26 Texas Lone Star | April 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org Capital Watch
From left, Eanes ISD trustees Heather Sheffield and James Spradley, Elgin ISD trustee Beth Walterscheidt, and Del Valle ISD trustee Ann Heuberger discuss proposed advocacy issues with fellow attendees at the Region 13 Grassroots Meeting January 15 in Austin. Photo by TASB Media Services

Members have until June

to submit legislative issues for the 2020-22 Advocacy Agenda.

issues that may affect only certain school districts, regions, or types of schools.

The 2018-20 Advocacy Agenda will expire upon adoption of the new agenda during the 2020 TASB Delegate Assembly. All Priorities and Resolutions from the 2018-20 agenda will expire, so districts should submit resolutions they wish to see carried forward. The new agenda will guide TASB’s advocacy efforts during the 87th Legislature in 2021.

Resolutions must be individually submitted by June 15 using the required form available at gr.tasb.org. For more information, visit gr.tasb.org or contact Dax Gonzalez at 800.580.4885 or dax.gonzalez@tasb.org H

Dax Gonzalez is division director of TASB Governmental Relations.

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2020 | Texas Lone Star 27
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‘Think Globally, Act Locally’

Educational Advancement Benefits Greatly from Healthy Balance of Localism and Centralism

The phrase “think globally, act locally” is a good one to remember, not only for purposes of ecology. It also applies to improving education governance and outcomes.

Boise State University Education Professor Kathy Budge wrote, “In expecting systemic reform to proceed rationally, regardless of the particularities of local places, policymakers may have underestimated the power of local context.” How can we meet challenges for improving public education, reach higher standards, and yet not break the system? The local community is where and how we prepare students for the global community.

A focus only on the local community and its values and needs can create a limited view of the world and opportunity for our students. However, a focus limited by centralization removes acknowledgment of local values, resources, and opportunities to solve global issues.

ous decades. This is not a new problem. The conversation about preparing students for a global economy raises the questions of “where, when, and how do we do that?” We do that in our unique communities and school districts. We need to prepare children for a global economy, but the context in which we do that, the tools we have to work with, and the challenges we have to overcome are vested in the resources and setting of the local community.

In 2004, William Foster wrote about this shift in an Education Administration Quarterly article titled “The Decline of the Local: A Challenge to Educational Leadership”: “There has occurred in our societies a decline of the local—a movement away from community input into the conduct of our lives and to the regulations of the state through standards, high-stakes testing, funding, and so on…. The decline of the local in the conduct of

people. Centralization includes the tendency by government, as well as the governed, to establish controls and corresponding bureaucracy to maintain those controls. Centralism concentrates governance and control in the hands of a few and political control in a single authority.

Localism, the valuing of ideals, needs, resources, and strengths of a specific community, is a worthy component in the conversation of education improvement. How might we think globally in a way that results in acting locally to benefit student learning? If we do not embrace this concept, improving education could stay trapped by ineffectiveness from failing to leverage the powerful tool of context-based learning. The problem is that we have a lot less emphasis on local governance and local control than previ-

the affairs of institutions such as schools is a decline in the promise of a truly democratic regime.”

Centralism Defined

Centralism, the control of various, different activities and organizations under a single authority, describes a prominent paradigm vying for control of public education. Proponents of centralization, the process of moving toward central control, advocate that central oversight and standards best serve the needs of

At the heart, the tension between localism and centralism may appear to be about power and control. However, while this perspective could be true for some, it is only one of the ways to examine the issue. There may be valid expected outcomes, not directly related to power, where one could advocate for more or less centralism or localism in a specific policy or operational area. These could include beliefs in benefits of uniformity or variability of standards.

However, in a letter to the editor of Education Next, Carl Olson, founder of Textbook Trust, warned: “The greater the centralization of school decisions

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Good Governance
How might we think globally in a way that results in acting locally to benefit student learning?

nationwide, the lower the possibility of excellence in academic achievement. If there were a ‘single provider’ of education policy decisions, the country would suffer a disastrous loss of competition. It would become an inevitable race to the bottom.”

This turn of control to external experts may reduce opportunity for professional growth and development of local educational leaders. It may sacrifice a thoughtful reflection of practice. The cost may also include diminishing of ownership and reduction of passion for creativity and critical thinking by both teacher and student.

Boise State’s Budge, who researched the impact of these trends on rural school districts, wrote, “At this time in public education’s history, when numerous professional journals feature articles referencing the national dialogue related to standards-based reform and the

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language of social justice, using terms such as excellence, equity, and academic achievement gap, a portion of the nation— rural America—may not be participating in the dialogue.” Not only rural America, but every community of every size and setting may be short-changed by the emphasis on centralism and lack of attention to localism.

Localism in Practice

While centralism concentrates oversight and standardization, localism focuses on what is near—the assets, advantages, challenges, and opportunities at hand. Localism emphasizes an interest in local affairs, matters, and customs. While localism can espouse a limited perspective, it can also be a significant perspective—one deserving a voice in education policy and leadership. It is the perspective of context, familiar relationships, respect for heritage, and esteem for the individual.

Localism is not a new idea. In 1912, sociologist Charles Horton Cooley wrote about concerns that streetcars, increasing national media, and the spread of the telephone were causing citizens to turn to the wider world beyond their

immediate communities and let fall their ties to the locality. This abandonment of loyalty to local stores and businesses has long-standing impact on the nature of business. The link between localism and economy has long been established and measured.

One benefit of localism is that it can aid character development and self-worth by assisting students and community members in embracing their unique cultural heritage and immediate resources. Localism gives opportunity to inspire ingenuity and acknowledge accomplishment within a community. Importantly, localism also provides increased opportunity for critical thinking and leadership development. A localism focus allows education leaders to meet students with curriculum and learning that capitalizes on the strengths of their community in context of their challenges.

Connecting the Two

By connecting centralism and localism, the potential for preparing students for a global society through a local education system may come—if we leverage them together. Systems scientist Peter Senge suggested the importance of well-thought-through systems solutions instead of centralized interventions. He wrote, “The cure can be worse than the disease,” and argued, “The long-term, most insidious consequence of applying non-systemic solutions is increased need for more and more of the solution. This is why ill-conceived government interventions are not just ineffective, they are ‘addictive’ in the sense of fostering increased dependency and lessened abilities of local people to solve their own problems.”

Those closest to the problem are also closest to the solutions. Distant vantage points can assist in examining issues;

30 Texas Lone Star | April 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
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By connecting centralism and localism, there is potential for preparing students for a global society through a local education system.

however, thinking only in terms of thousands of variables can actually distract us from seeing patterns and relationships. The task of educational leadership and improvement today should be to help people improve their skills and relationships.

Effective leaders work to improve relationships between teachers and students and among the education community. Stanford University Education Professor Pam Grossman stated that, as with clergy and clinical psychologists, success for teachers “depends upon building relationships with clients.” Everything that improves relationships internally and externally enhances teaching and learning. Building relationships with the community increases not only potential for financial support but also direct participation and partnerships with learning through outside expertise and resources. Building relationships between educators and learners establishes partnerships in the learning process.

Trust and caring are at the heart of this partnership. Listening to people and their concerns and demonstrating care are crucial for building trust. Trust is a key

ingredient for relationships and an essential ingredient for cooperation of learners and educators. If students do not trust educators, they will find means to push back against the system. It is crucial for students, educators, and families to trust one another in order to form effective partnerships for student learning.

The ‘Ism’ Problems

One of the frustrations centralism poses to legislators and education policymakers is the complexity created by increased centralized authority. Harvard University Educational Leadership Professor Richard Elmore wrote: “Complexity of implementation requires a substantial rethinking of legislative and administrative control.… More specific legislation, tighter regulations and procedures, centralized authority, and closer monitoring of compliance probably have an effect opposite of that intended. Rather than increasing control, they increase complexity. And as complexity increases, control itself is threatened.”

This helps emphasize that those closest to the students understand best how to teach to their interests and needs. Tak-

General Session Speakers

en further, school staff know what it takes to improve student learning and enhance the overall environment and effectiveness of the schools. Localism-focused educational leadership brings staff together, listens more than lectures, assists instead of obstructing, and creates a culture of commitment to one another that fosters professional development.

On the other hand, from a centralism perspective, it is difficult to ascertain the effectiveness of an adjustment to a student’s learning by standardized tests administered annually. A strictly centralist perspective might leave practitioners with a year or more of uncertainty regarding the effect of adjustments in teaching style on student outcomes. Operating within the larger school system, and particularly in the context of a school district, appropriate adaptations to facilitate student learning may come from a systemic perspective and collaborative approach.

Pendulum of Reform

Schools are systems, and systems are political—they involve people. Systems

(See Connections, page 39.)

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Finding Common Ground

CTSBA Meetings Highlight Shared Area Concerns

Central Texas school board members are discovering that one of the most effective ways to expand their learning opportunities, voice their suggestions, and impact student success comes through attending meetings hosted by the Central Texas School Boards Association (CTSBA). This group gathers monthly at the Region 13 Education Service Center in Austin to highlight areas of interest and need for the more than 60 school districts calling Central Texas home.

In February, trustees and school administrators learned best practices on how to implement new laws regarding school safety. Tom Kelley, a training and education specialist from the Texas School Safety Center (TSSC) at Texas State University, explained the active role the Center will play to help districts comply with new legislation requiring them to create effective School Safety and Security Committees and improved Emergency Operations Plans.

“The most compelling takeaway was that the Texas School Safety Center has not changed its philosophy, despite TSSC’s incredible increase in legislatively mandated responsibilities,” said Dripping Springs ISD Board Vice-President Mary Jane Hetrick. “TSSC remains a partner and resource for school districts, and its staff is churning out additional guidance as soon as they receive it from (the Texas Education Agency).”

Unified Advocacy Strength

Area school boards associations, located in at least eight different areas of Texas, are a means of finding common ground and understanding concerning public education needs regardless of

a district’s size, location, or economic health.

“I believe the voice of locally elected trustees, unified in the advocating process, can play a vital role in impacting the support coming into the classroom,” said CTSBA President Trish Bode, a Leander ISD trustee.

Bode and the other CTSBA officers work to bring in speakers on topics of general interest to the group each month

“to build a trustee’s capacity to advocate for public education students by sharing the latest research, best practices, and stakeholder insight.”

Upcoming CTSBA Topics

CTSBA is focusing on local accountability issues during the months of March and April, inviting John Tanner of Test Sense to discuss the Texas Public Accountability Consortium, Mesquite ISD Superintendent David Vroonland to speak on community-based accountability systems, and Texas Education Agency officials to educate trustees on ways to establish effective local accountability methods.

To find out more about upcoming CTSBA meetings or other area school boards associations, visit the TASB Website at tasb.org/about-tasb/related-sites-and-affiliated-entities/area-school-boards-associations.aspx

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News & Events
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Amber Elenz, Austin ISD Board secretary, is a member of the Central Texas School Boards Association. CTSBA member Mary Jane Hetrick, vice-president of the Dripping Springs ISD Board, talks with Tom Kelley, a training and education specialist from the Texas School Safety Center, during the February CTSBA meeting in Austin. Photo courtesy of CTSBA

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TASBO Honors

First-Ever RISE Award Winners

The Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO) awarded six members with the association’s first-ever RISE Award during TASBO’s 2020 Engage Conference in Houston recently.

The new awards program, sponsored by TASB, honors members whose accomplishments distinguish them as future leaders in the profession. The goal of the award is to bring to light those individuals who are on the rise in the school business community.

The six awardees are:

• Bridget Chustz-Morrison, Fort Bend ISD director of Risk Management

• Julie Guillory, Fort Bend ISD director of Student Attendance/PEIMS

• Karen Holyfield, Gilmer ISD director of PEIMS

• Jamie Lyn Muffoletto, Hutto ISD coordinator of Student Information Systems/PEIMS

• Jeffri Orosco, Pflugerville ISD director of Finance

• Caleb Steed, Hutto ISD director of Purchasing

“With the RISE Award, we are honoring people with less than 10 years of experience in school business but are already beginning to contribute as future leaders,” TASBO Executive Director Tracy Ginsburg said.

TASBO will make a $250 donation to the TASBO Scholarship Fund in the name of the honorees.

Members can be nominated by school districts, charter schools, government entities, or TASBO research committees, standing committees, or affiliates. To be nominated for the award, a member must:

• Be a current active TASBO member for no more than 10 years

• Demonstrate leadership qualities and achievements in his or her role and the potential to lead the future of school business

• Display a desire to advance his or her career with continued engagement in TASBO

• Have not won the award previously

For more information, visit tasbo.org/about-tasbo/scholarships-awards/rise. H

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Lessons in the Heart of Texas

Leadership TASB Class of 2020 Takes a Trip to Austin

LEADERSHIP TASB

Editor’s note: Leadership TASB is a unique board development program designed to take experienced board members to a new level of service and leadership by exposing them to a variety of issues, people, activities, and locations during a year-long program. Leadership TASB columns, written by class members, track the progress and share the experiences of each year’s class throughout the year.

The Leadership TASB Class of 2020 would like to express its appreciation to Thrall ISD Board President Bryan Holubec and Thrall ISD for providing transportation during the class’s visit to Austin.

When you first endeavor to meet a person, do you assume that they will respond and interact with you in the exact manner that everyone else you know does? Of course not! To assume so would be absurd, and your level of interpersonal success would likely fall somewhere short of successful.

Why, then, do people assume that all students can be taught in the same method and then blame the students if they are unable to fully grasp a concept? During the Leadership TASB Class of 2020’s third session February 20-22, the class visited Austin to further explore newer concepts with hopes of “stealing” a tidbit here or there and thereby improving the Texas public education system as a whole.

Social and Emotional Learning

During a visit to Austin ISD’s O. Henry Middle School, Leadership TASB Class members took an in-depth look at social and emotional learning (SEL).

Based on the premise that one must be willing to develop relationships in order to get the best results in the classroom, SEL is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills vital for school, work, and life success.

At O. Henry Middle School, faculty and staff have embraced the SEL concept and integrated it into the curriculum. Upon entry into O. Henry, students meet with counselors and are placed in counseling groups. In these groups, issues are discussed that allow students and school professionals to be proactive and deal with issues prior to them potentially escalating.

Austin ISD teacher and SEL advocate R. Keeth Matheny shared some of his

successes—and losses—with our group, likening his work with students to rescuing starfish along the beach: “While we may not be able to throw every single one back into the surf, we can forever alter the trajectory of those that we can.”

Matheny, who said he prefers to call his students “at promise” rather than “at risk,” noted that SEL protocols teach students to manage their emotions, which prevents those emotions from managing the classroom. By coaching his students to work through their emotions, he helps them find their “why.”

A Visit to Griffin

Following our time at O. Henry Middle School, the Leadership TASB group visited The Griffin School, a private nontraditional high school campus created in 1996 to reach students who cannot be accommodated by a traditional classroom.

The Griffin campus, with an ADA of less than 100, gives students a more personalized environment while maintaining academic rigor and creativity.

34 Texas Lone Star | April 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
Leadership TASB Class of 2020 members (from left) Amy Smith of Lovejoy ISD, Linda Platt-Bryant of West Orange-Cove CISD, and Clifton Fendley of Paris ISD walk with TASB staff member Marla Gilliland during the class’s visit to Austin ISD’s O. Henry Middle School. Photo by TASB Media Services
Social and emotional learning is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills vital for school, work, and life success.

This eye-opening visit was followed by a presentation by generational studies expert Amy Lynch, who explained that different generations interact in fundamentally different ways. That is an important concept to recognize when you are dealing with administrators, teachers, students, and parents who are spread across the age spectrum.

Serving the Whole Student

What was the primary takeaway from this Leadership TASB session? We need to strive to meet our students where they are. We have to serve the person as a whole, and we can do this by reaching the student on both an emotional and intellectual level. If we don’t make these attempts, we certainly face further problems.

To borrow a line from Mark Twain: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” We have been entrusted with the greatest resource of the future—our children—and we must endeavor to give every “starfish” that we can reach a better chance.H

Clifton Fendley, a Paris ISD trustee, is a member of the Leadership TASB Class of 2020.

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TASB’s Executive Search Services is currently accepting applications for the positions listed below:

• Ector County ISD. Executive Manager/CFO. Deadlines to be determined..

For more information about vacancies or services provided by TASB’s Executive Search Services, call 800.580.8272, e-mail executive.search@tasb.org, or visit ess.tasb.org

Due to implications of COVID-19, Spring Workshops scheduled in March and April are canceled. Some May workshops are still scheduled, but TASB will continue to update the event schedule as needed.

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Visit tasb.org/board-dev and navigate to Events for more information. Iraan-Sheffield • May 5 El Paso • May 7 Nacogdoches • May 12 Canyon • May 13 Huntsville • May 14 South Padre Island • May 15 &16 Waco • May 19 Uvalde • May 27
Training without all the travel. 2020 Spring Workshops!

SEASIDE SESSIONS

TASB’s Governance Camp Brings Together Local Public Education Leaders and Students

More than 500 school board members and administrators from school districts across the state converged on Galveston February 26-29 for TASB’s Governance Camp: Powered by Student Voice. The conference brings together local public education leaders for interactive sessions focused on leadership, positive student outcomes, and governance, with a strong emphasis on student voice.

More than 200 Texas public school students attended “Camp,” many of them presenting sessions, sitting on panels, performing, or participating in the Students Inspired Exhibit Hall that showcases programs and projects in their local districts.

Sponsored by Walsh Gallegos Trevino Russo & Kyle P.C. and Claycomb Associates Architects, Governance Camp offered attendees inspirational keynotes, networking opportunities, and up to 16 hours of training, including an experiential preconference poverty simulation designed to help trustees understand the life circumstances of many Texas schoolchildren living in poverty. Attendees were also offered a Saturday postconference option to attend the biennially required Senate Bill 1566 training.

36 Texas Lone Star | April 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org

Opposite page, Galveston ISD Board Secretary Monica Wagner participates in a Governance Camp session; at top left, Pearsall ISD Board President Tommy Navarro enjoys an interactive exercise; at top right, discussing education issues during the Student Voice Scholarship Panel are (from left) Brownwood ISD’s Loralei Briley, Anahuac ISD’s Tracy Ly, moderator Paula Roalson of Walsh Gallegos, Lytle ISD’s Camryn Hoffman, and Austin ISD’s Sofia Moore; at center left, choir students from Nederland ISD perform for attendees between activities; at bottom left, Fort Sam Houston Elementary student members of the “KCUB News” crew pose with their teachers and (at left) Northside ISD Board Vice-President Karen Freeman.

Photos by TASB Media Services

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MASBA Celebrates 50 Years at Annual Conference

Local public education leaders from across the state were on hand for the Mexican American School Boards Association’s (MASBA) 50th Anniversary Conference February 20-23 in San Antonio.

Special guests at the conference included Tejano legend Gary Hobbs, motivational speakers Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, Roy Juarez, Marisa Rivera, and Carlos Ojeda Jr., and keynote speakers Emilio Zamora and Angela Valenzuela of The University of Texas at Austin, as well as MASBA cofounder Jose Angel Gutierrez of the University of Texas at Arlington.

Attendees toured Edgewood, Southside, and Southwest ISDs and participated in numerous sessions and events, including a superintendents panel and MASBA’s annual graduates panel. A special exhibit highlighted MASBA’s role as longtime host of the Texas High School Mariachi Competition.

“It was indeed a memorable weekend of powerful speakers, breakout sessions, and even Saturday evening pachanga (festive music and dance) that folks won’t soon forget,” said MASBA Executive Director Jayme Mathias, an Austin ISD trustee.H

38 Texas Lone Star | April 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
Past presidents and officers of MASBA took part in the festivities during the association’s 50th anniversary conference February 20-23 in San Antonio. Photo courtesy of MASBA
“Education is the movement from darkness to light.”
—Allan Bloom

Honoring ‘Super Supes’

SOTY Nominations Due to Regional ESCs by April 10

Nominations for the 2020 Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) awards program are due to designated regional education service centers (ESCs) by April 10.

H O H T H Y Superintendent of the Year H 2020

Since 1984, the SOTY awards program has honored outstanding administrators for achievement and excellence in public school administration. These school leaders exhibit exemplary and visionary leadership toward improving student performance. They are chosen for their strong leadership skills, dedication to improving the quality of education in their districts, and commitment to public support and involvement in education.

Eligibility and Nominations

A local school board that is currently an active member of TASB may nominate its superintendent. Nominees must meet the following requirements:

• Have served as a superintendent of the district since September 1, 2017 (interim positions do not count)

• Be a member of the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA)

• Be certified and meet the State Board for Educator Certification continuing professional education requirement

• Be an active superintendent at the time of the 2020 TASA/TASB Convention

Superintendents who receive the top state award cannot be nominated again during the following five-year period. This rule does not apply to superintendents who were named regional winners or state finalists.

Selection Procedure

Regional Screening Committees. ESCs coordinate regional screening; school board members serving on regional screening committees are from districts that do not have superintendents nominated for the award and do not have board members on the TASB State Selection Committee. Each regional screening committee will submit one nomination to the state committee.

State Selection Committee. The State Selection Committee is typically composed of TASB directors appointed by the TASB president to serve on the Association’s Member Services Committee. A director may not serve if the superintendent from his or her district is being considered.

Award and Sponsor. The Superintendent of the Year award winner’s district receives a $5,000 award, which will be presented at the 2020 TASA/TASB Convention in Dallas. The four state finalists’ districts receive $1,000 each. The award program is underwritten by Balfour and sponsored by TASB.

Schedule

• April 10: Nomination submissions due to designated ESCs

• June 26: Regional screening completed and nominations submitted to TASB

• August 28-29: Regional winners interviewed and five finalists chosen by the TASB State Selection Committee

• October: Finalists interviewed and SOTY award winner chosen by TASB State Selection Committee

• October 2: Presentation of the SOTY award at 2020 TASA/TASB Convention

For more information, call 800.580.8272 or e-mail soty@tasb.org.H

Connections (from page 31)

do not improve all by themselves. Systemic improvements to student learning may require a dual commitment to optimism with grounding in current realities.

The pendulum of change and reform continually swings. It’s important to remember that there are delays between action and outcome. It is difficult to ascertain the effectiveness of adjustments to a student’s learning by standardized tests administered annually. Adjustments in style have delays in results. This article suggests that those closest to the learning process are in the best position to make meaningful adjustments to teaching methods that match the learning style and needs of students.

As Budge stated, “In expecting systemic reform to proceed rationally, regardless of the particularities of local places, policymakers may have underestimated the power of local context.” She further explained: “We must foster in students a critical sense of place, enabling them to cherish and celebrate local values, histories, culture, and ecology of the place they inhabit. At the same time, they will learn to critique and confront the social, political, economic, and environmental problems in their local communities. Citizens with a keen critical sense of place are likely better able to thoughtfully and carefully determine what should be conserved and what should be transformed in the places in which they choose to live.”

If we are to make advances in educational improvement, these advances may need to be through streamlining and simplifying, not further burdening, the system. This may not be accomplished by disregarding the benefits of localism. Attention to the issues of reducing bureaucracy, reinforcing localism, and improving social justice are foundational for meaningful advancements in public education.H

Phil Gore is TASB division director of Board Development Services.

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Bulletin Board

NSBA Conference, COSA Seminar Canceled

Due to ongoing concerns about the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) announced in March the cancellation of the NSBA 2020 Conference and Council of School Attorneys (COSA) School Law Seminar, scheduled for April 4-6 and April 2-4, respectively, in Chicago, Illinois.

A statement on the NSBA website noted: “Given the circumstances of the evolving coronavirus and the disease it causes (COVID-19), which has been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, we are unable to hold the meeting and law seminar this year. The association’s most important priority and commitment is to protect the health, well-being, and safety of all our annual conference and law seminar attendees and participants and the communities served by NSBA’s members.”

For more information, visit nsba.org

Former HEB ISD Trustee Honored

Former Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD Trustee Neal W. Adams was named the recipient of the 2020 Dan Rugeley Price Memorial Award from the Texas Bar Foundation. Adams, who has practiced law in Texas since 1972, is president of the law firm of Adams, Lynch & Loftin, PC, in Grapevine. He served on the Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD Board from 1979 to 1986, serving as president from 1981 to 1985. He also served as a member of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for six years and as vice-chair from 2005 through 2007.

Map Launched to Help with Free Meals

Texas parents can now visit the Texas Schools MealFinder Map at https://txschools. gov/ to find locations near them where local school systems are offering free school meals—both breakfast and lunch—for pickup while school buildings are closed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Launched by the Texas Education Agency in partnership with the Office of the Governor and Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), the MealFinder Map is designed to help parents and students easily find school meals during the unprecedented disruption to schools caused by COVID-19.

Once parents go to the site, they click “Meal Pick-Up Locations” to bring up a map of locations. Parents can type their address, and the map will zoom into meal pickup locations near them.

School systems around the state have responded to COVID-19 with an outpouring of compassion and operational excellence. In less than eight days since the first school closures were announced, more than 1,000 schools have launched “Meal Pick-Up Locations.” That number is expected to rise daily, so parents should check regularly as more meal locations are launched.

In terms of terms of eligibility, TDA has provided extensive guidance to help school systems, based on federal rules. In locations where more than 50 percent of students are eligible for a free or reduced-price lunch, free meals can be made available for every child who visits the meal site. In places below that threshold, sites can be established to target individually eligible students.

Fabens ISD CEO Wins Alumni Award

Fabens ISD Superintendent Veronica Vijil, a graduate of Sam Houston State University, was recently named the Distinguished Educator of the Year by her alma mater.

Vijil, the first Latina superintendent at Fabens ISD, began her tenure at the district in February 2019. A 30-year educator, Vijil previously received the Jackie Merchant Memorial Leadership Award from Sam Houston State for her leadership skills as a graduate student and was named Spring ISD Secondary Principal of the Year.

“This is the highest honor that the university can bestow upon its alumni,” a university news release noted. “The award recognizes and honors alumni educators who have made a significant contribution to the field of education, demonstrating expertise and outstanding service in the classroom, school, district, and community.”

Hetrick Receives Hometown Hero Award

TASB Board of Directors member Mary Jane Hetrick of Dripping Springs ISD recently received the Hometown Hero/Ed Sims Memorial Award from the Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce during its 2020 Star Awards celebration. Hetrick, Dripping Springs ISD Board vice-president, was one of five winners of the chamber’s Hometown Hero Award, given to the town’s individuals and businesses for outstanding contributions to the community.

If you have a short news item you would like to submit to Bulletin Board, roger.white@tasb.org.e-mail

40 Texas Lone Star | April 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
texaslonestaronline.org | April 2020 | Texas Lone Star 41 SILSBEE ISD The largest convening of public education policymakers in Texas! • Crowdsourced session selections • Network with 4,000+ • Exhibit Hall with more than 300 product and service experts • Field trips • Live podcast interviews • Show-stopping live student performances • Small School District Seminar #tasatasb tasa.tasb.org Join us in Dallas October 2–4 Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Follow us on Twitter @tasbnews @tasbrmf TASB Risk Management Fund @tasbhrs TASB HR Services @tasblegal TASB Legal Services Follow us on Instagram @tasbphotos Find us on Facebook Texas Association of School Boards TASB Risk Management Fund TASB HR Services

Stepping Up

Texas School Districts Shine in Time of Crisis

Q:How are Texas schools handling the coronavirus crisis?

A: With outstanding dedication! This is definitely a strange time for every one of us. I’ve heard several people say things like: “This is the first time in my life I’ve had to (fill in the blank)” or yesterday I heard, “I am 80 years old, and this is the only time I’ve ever seen church canceled.” We all seem to be facing new territory.

The two words “unprecedented” and “surreal” keep popping up in published articles and private messages. I think everyone agrees that this is a new experience for us, a new challenge. The

young adults at the forefront of decision making, you are making sound choices and fostering creativity on behalf of students.

I see story after story of the most admirable and heart-warming efforts. You did this after Hurricane Harvey, and you are doing it again. From where I sit, I have a statewide view of your work, and I am so encouraged by your determined problem solving.

You are finding a wide variety of solutions to the need to teach virtually. In large districts and small, teachers and administrators are implementing great teaching and helping parents know how to support their students at home. The number of creative approaches seems to be unlimited.

reality, I know that we will also develop the wisdom we need and the innovation required to allow us to rise above daily challenges.

In times like these, I often hear my grandmother whispering in my ear. I hope you have a similar wise person who whispers in your ear. Today, I hear her saying something she repeated frequently to me when I was a child: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

I suspect that you are already familiar with that advice, because I can see the remarkable things you are doing during these strange times. You are doing a great job of starting where you are, using what you have, and doing what you can. I am so proud of your efforts! The Texas school community is the best!

TASB Available to Help

questions now are: How do we adapt and deal successfully with this new paradigm? How do we carry on when we are “social distancing?” How can we be productive from the dining room table? Now that we have all the tools of technology, how can we put them to work to help us through this situation?

Education Community Shines

As always, I have been bowled over by the response of the school community. The people associated with public schools are truly the most amazing folks ever. Keeping the best interests of children and

Not only that, but you are finding ways to feed children all over town. Hurray for you! The solutions vary by district, but it is clear that you are thinking through new ways to deliver important services in addition to classroom instruction. I am impressed again by the range of services you provide.

Moving Forward

I haven’t heard anyone quoting Dickens yet (“best of times, worst of times”), but I am sure we will start hearing that before too long. As we regain our balance and develop skills to navigate this new

At TASB, we are making sure that we stay available and ready to assist members with anything you need. Whether our building is open or closed, we are ensuring that TASB staff members are able to respond to your questions and support you through this critical time.

Please call us at 800.580.8272 or e-mail us at tasb@tasb.org with any need. We are looking forward to helping you. Stay well.H

Karen Strong is TASB associate executive director of Communications and Public Relations.

42 Texas Lone Star | April 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org Q & A
As we regain our balance and develop skills to navigate this new reality, I know that we will also develop the wisdom we need and the innovation required to allow us to rise above daily challenges.

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• With guided administration, we’ll be here for you for your entire plan year.

• Our website and app make enrollments and benefits management easy for both HR staff and district employees.

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