April 2021

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Texas Lone Star

Addressing the stresses

How schools are handling student social-emotional issues in an upended world

A Publication of the Texas Association of School Boards | Volume 39, Number 3 | April 2021

Featured Event


TASB Officers 2020-21

Jim Rice, Fort Bend ISD, President

Ted Beard, Longview ISD, President-Elect

Debbie Gillespie, Frisco ISD, First Vice-President

Bob Covey, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Second Vice-President

Armando Rodriguez, Canutillo ISD, Secretary-Treasurer

Lee Lentz-Edwards, Kermit ISD, Immediate Past President

TASB Board of Directors 2020-21

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

Justin Chapa, Arlington ISD, Region 11C

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

Mark Lukert, Wichita Falls ISD, Region 9

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

Dan Micciche, Dallas ISD, Region 10C

Vernagene Mott, Pflugerville ISD, Region 13C

Nicholas Phillips, Nederland ISD, Region 5

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

Page Rander, Clear Creek ISD, Region 4B

Tony Raymond, Sabine ISD, Region 7

Georgan Reitmeier, Klein ISD, Region 4A

Rolinda Schmidt, Kerrville ISD, Region 20A

Cindy Spanel, Highland Park ISD, Region 16

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

Anne Sung, Houston ISD, Region 4D

Mildred Watkins, La Vega ISD, Region 12

Greg Welch, Clyde CISD, Region 14

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

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 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org Calendar
VIRTUAL CONFERENCE APRIL 29-30 APRIL 6 • TASB 2021 Virtual Spring Workshop, Nacogdoches 7 • TASB HR Services Minimizing the Impact of Leave-related Terminations Webinar 8-10 • National School Boards Association Annual Conference Virtual Event 14 • TASB 2021 Virtual Spring Workshop, Houston 14 • TASB Risk Fund: Let's Talk School Transportation Webinar 14-16 • State Board of Education Meetings, Austin 15 • TASB Student Solutions Preparing for State Performance Plan Submissions Webinar 20 • TASB 2021 Virtual Spring Workshop, Lubbock 21-23 • TASB Legal Services School Law Boot Camp Virtual Event 26 • TASB 2021 Virtual Spring Workshop, Uvalde 29-30 • TASB Special Education Solutions SHARS 2021 Virtual Conference 30 • State Board for Educator Certification Meeting, Austin MAY 4 • TASB 2021 Virtual Spring Workshop, Alpine 5 • TASB 2021 Virtual Spring Workshop, Huntsville 5 • TASB Risk Fund Catching Up on 2021 Unemployment Compensation Trends 5-6 • TASB HR Services Managing Personnel Records Webinar 6 • TASB Student Solutions Goodbye 20-21 and Hello 21-22 Webinar 11 • TASB 2021 Virtual Spring Workshop, Commerce 12 • TASB 2021 Virtual Spring Workshop, Canyon 12 • Community Colleges: 60 Minutes to a Stress-free Security Audit 13 • TASB 2021 Virtual Spring Workshop, Abilene 14-15 • TASB 2021 Virtual Spring Workshop, South Padre Island 18 • TASB 2021 Virtual Spring Workshop, Waco 20 • TASB 2021 Virtual Spring Workshop, El Paso



Addressing the Stresses

The past year has presented challenges for all students—but for those struggling with social-emotional issues or physical and intellectual disabilities, the effects are magnified. In this issue, we shine a light on three school districts to see how they are assisting this segment of their student population.

9 Tele-Terrific: How HCDE Tech-Savvy School Therapists Are Supporting Students

11 Addressing the Stresses: Helping Students Handle Increased Pressures in a Topsy-Turvy Year

14 Four-legged Therapy: Student Support Comes in All Shapes and Sizes


2 Calendar 18 Legal News

22 Capitol Watch

24 Facilitating Student Success

26 News & Events


5 From the Top

7 Editor’s Footnote

34 A Final Note

Texas Lone Star • Volume 39, Number 3

Texas Association of School Boards P.O. Box 400 • Austin, Texas • 78767-0400 512.467.0222 • 800.580.8272

Roger White • Managing Editor

Melissa Locke Roberts • Assistant Editor Shu-in Powell • Graphic Designer Patrick Morris, Virginia Hernandez • Photographers Jackie Johnson • 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© 2021 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 emailed to communications@tasb.org or addressed to the Managing Editor, P.O. Box 400, Austin, Texas 78767-0400.

Web Watch

Recognize businesses and community organizations that stand up for their public schools: tasb.org/brp

For more information about tasb.org and our related sites, contact TASB Online Communications at 512.467.0222, or 800.580.8272 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.

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Contents | April 2021
April 2021 texaslonestaronline.org

TASB Risk Management Fund


In the past year, Texas public schools like yours combatted numerous risks, including the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme winter weather. Through it all, schools continued to deliver excellence in risk management and education. Submit your newly implemented risk management solutions now for a 2021 Excellence Award.

The Fund will honor up to 10 recipients with a $1,000 honorarium toward their continued efforts.

Submission deadline is June 4, 2021, at 6 p.m.

Apply today at tasbrmf.org/excellence


School Board Training: Who Needs It?

All Trustees—Rookies and Veterans—Benefit From Research-based Governance Instruction

Anybody who has decided to run for a seat on the local school board can surely tell you the motivations for doing so and what they intend to accomplish once elected. These candidates are passionate about the issues they perceive within their district; after all, they have decided to invest their time, capital, and energy into trying to get elected.

But enthusiasm does not equate to experience. No matter how capable he or she may be, there is not one trustee who assumes his or her new role as anything but a complete novice.

The real work begins at the conclusion of a successful campaign. I will never forget being sworn into office and receiving my first packet of information and meeting board book. Personally, I found it akin to drinking from a fire hose. No one warned me there was going to be so much reading and homework!

The truth is, the world of public education is extremely complex, as are the responsibilities of a school board trustee. Once elected, trustees are expected to be knowledgeable on topics such as student achievement, school finance, ethics, legal concepts, policies, and beyond. For this reason, Texas requires school board orientation and training for all school board members.

New Trustee Training

Shortly after May elections, newly elected board members attend their first Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) in San Antonio or Fort Worth (or virtually, as the

case may be). All new trustees are required to attend a full day of training covering many topics, including Robert’s Rules of Order, a manual of legislative procedure for organizations—essentially a handbook for running meetings effectively and efficiently and the process for making and amending motions.

New board officers also attend special classes tailored to instruct them on how to organize and manage meetings, how to plan the annual board meeting calendar, and many other topics they will need to master for their new role.

The State Board of Education recently completed its Framework for School Board Governance, in which it promulgated recommended training for teams of eight to complete. Research has proven that leadership teams that collaborate and work together to improve student outcomes can make a positive difference in the lives of their students. The Texas Education Agency will very likely look to school districts to embrace this teamof-eight training. In fact, many districts have already been engaging in this type of coaching with much success.

Even for seasoned trustees and effective school boards, continuing education is crucial to support ongoing student success. For instance, TASB offers

This training is very valuable, and both SLI and txEDCON—the TASA | TASB Annual Convention—provide learning opportunities on many different subjects, all of which combine to help make you a better-informed trustee.

Team-of-Eight Training

But one trustee cannot improve student outcomes alone. A school board is usually composed of seven trustees and a superintendent—the team of eight— who must be able to commit to a shared vision and function as a cohesive entity to achieve their goals.

eXceptional Governance (XG) training. XG sessions involve an “intensive, whole-board program to help strengthen essential perspectives, build your governance capacity, and equip your board to act confidently with a focus on improving student outcomes.”

Phil Gore, TASB’s division director of Board Development Services, and the Board Development team recently conducted a virtual XG Summit, in part to help trustees understand that “boards that learn create systems that learn.” This

(See Training, page 21.)

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2021 | Texas Lone Star 5 From the Top
Once elected, trustees are expected to be knowledgeable on topics such as student achievement, school finance, ethics, legal concepts, policies, and beyond.

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Helping Hands

Schools Statewide Provide Special Assistance For Students Struggling to Cope

As schools, districts, families, and communities continue to wrestle with the wide-ranging difficulties posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they are finding that there are deeper, more complex issues than logistics, technological inequities, and financial considerations. Student health—particularly mental and emotional well-being—is being greatly affected across the globe.

As the Associated Press (AP) reported in March, a drastic rise in childhood mental health issues is raising warning flags worldwide. “For doctors who treat them, the pandemic’s impact on the mental health of children is increasingly

On the Front Lines in Texas

In schools across Texas, therapists, educators, counselors, and other professionals have answered the call for help from their students—in innovative and thoughtful ways.

In Houston, as therapists continue to meet a primary goal of helping students succeed in the school setting, the biggest adjustment since the pandemic involves the technology required, reports the Harris County Department of Education (HCDE). Districts first struggled to get equipment to families. Therapists then had to climb a steep technology learning curve themselves.

“We are able to do things now that we never imagined possible before,” HCDE School-Based Therapy Services Director Carie Crabb said. She noted that distraction-free home workspaces are helping students with attention-deficit disorders, and parents are shown how to use writing or typing accommodations such as text-to-speech devices with their children.

HCDE Physical Therapist Leah Alba described the qualities needed to be an excellent “tele-therapist.” “I think being a tele-therapist, one needs to be patient, flexible, innovative, and resourceful,” said Alba.

Reaching out in Harlingen

In Harlingen CISD (HCISD), counselors have been reaching out to students to check on them and conduct lessons at least once a week. Elementary and middle school counselors are doing lessons with students so they’re still able to have that connection with students.

alarming. [One Paris pediatric hospital] has seen a doubling in the number of children and young teenagers requiring treatment after attempted suicides since September,” wrote AP’s John Leicester. “Pediatric psychiatrists say they’re also seeing children with coronavirus-related phobias, tics, and eating disorders, obsessing about infection…and terrified of getting sick from food.”

“We also have on our website a way for students to reach out to the counselor, and we have counselor referral forms on our main homepage that anybody can use (students, parents, others),” an HCISD administrator noted. “Our counselors do know the students who need that connection more than others. They are reaching Oh,

Ed, the birds are singing

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Editor’s Footnote
The sun is
Public Ed! Copyright 2021 TASB by White & Severns
yes, Elle, there was indeed a MASSIVE winter storm in February!
the squirrels are running around! Was there really a winter storm in February?
(See Helping Hands, page 33.)
Texas school therapists, educators, counselors, and other professionals have answered the call for help from their students—in innovative and thoughtful ways.

Addressing the stresses

How schools are handling student social-emotional issues in an upended world

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Any student will tell you that school has been a real challenge during the past year. Disrupted schedules. Virtual or hybrid approaches to learning. Technology issues. Isolation from friends and distance from teachers. It’s a lot for students to deal with while trying to maintain good grades.

But for those students already struggling with social-emotional issues or physical and intellectual disabilities, the challenges are magnified.

In this issue, we shine a light on three school districts to see how they are assisting this segment of their student population. As they work to help students cope with additional stresses, they are adapting approaches as they go—and sometimes finding that, even amid chaos, fresh perspectives can arise.

Tele-Terrific: How HCDE Tech-Savvy School Therapists Are Supporting Students

Problem-solvers, parent-coaches, think-tankers, tech-savvy. These are terms that have been used to describe the school-based therapists of the Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) as they have worked diligently through the pandemic crisis to help students with physical and intellectual disabilities be successful through virtual learning.

HCDE School-Based Therapy Services employs 157 physical, occupational, and music therapists and assistant therapists who work in 32 school districts and charter schools. Their team of highly trained therapists provides support for more than 7,000 students with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities, and other challenges in greater Harris County.

“Therapy sessions are conducted in a variety of ways, depending on the individual needs of the student,” HCDE School-Based Therapy Services Director Carie Crabb said. “Sometimes therapists are attending a virtual class lesson along with the students they are supporting. At other times, the therapist is providing a virtual session with a student and their parent or caregiver.”

A Steep Learning Curve

As therapists continue to meet a primary goal of helping students succeed in the school setting, the biggest adjustment since the pandemic has involved technology.

Districts first struggled to get equipment to families. Therapists then had to climb a steep technology learning curve themselves. But results have been positive.

“We are able to do things now that we never imagined possible before,” said Crabb. A student can get help at home with handwriting skills or with using a pair of scissors, and distraction-free home workspaces are helping students with attention-deficit disorders. Parents are shown how to use writing or typing accommodations such as text-to-speech devices with their children.

HCDE Physical Therapist Leah Alba talked about the qualities needed to be an excellent tele-therapist. “I think being a tele-therapist, one needs to be patient, flexible, innovative, and resourceful,” said Alba.

When students began learning from home, Alba said there were challenges involving computer connectivity, unfamiliarity with software and learning platforms, schedules, meeting parents’ needs, and more.

“But when you start seeing your students on the other end of the computer and how the parents participate during the session, it gives you a sense of purpose,” Alba said. “It was an opportunity for me to share my ideas with parents, problem solve how their child can participate during instructional lessons, modify their environment, identify alternative strategies, and help guide parents through the instructional routine.”

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‘Think Outside the Box’

Occupational Therapist Traci Gault has worked in school therapy for over a decade. She agrees with Alba about the pandemic making therapists “think outside the box.”

“Therapists were able to successfully transition from in-person learning to virtual learning since we use a coaching model,” Gault said. “Teachers and staff are shown and instructed in various strategies to help support students. These strategies are used by teachers and staff when providing support to their students daily.”

As many districts return to in-person instruction, therapists are careful to follow strict guidelines set forth by each of those districts, including social distancing, plexiglass barriers, and face masks.

Unsung Heroes

The feeling of being connected rings true for both in-person and virtual therapy, according to Alba.

“I think the most difficult part about my new role as a manager in the virtual world is making sure everyone feels connected and stays motivated,” she said. “Phone calls, emails, and virtual chat are still available, but it can still be difficult to ensure everyone feels connected and supported.”

Crabb thinks of her staff of therapists as unsung heroes who have a deep sense of dedication and care for their students with disabilities.

“These challenging times have brought to light the hard work and selfless sacrifice that they put forth every day,” she said.H

HCDE School-Based Therapy Services at a Glance, 2019-20:

• 6,668 students served

• 7,228 teachers/educators served

• 24 ISDs, four charter schools, two HCDE campuses, one special education co-op, one nonprofit served

• Highest percentage population served: children with autism (32.7 percent)

• Second-highest percentage population served: children with intellectual disabilities (23 percent)

For more information, visit hcde-texas.org.

Harris County Department of Education Physical Therapist Leah Alba (at left) and Occupational Therapist Traci Gault use a variety of skills and technological savvy to reach students during the pandemic.
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Photo courtesy of HCDE

Addressing the Stresses: Helping Students Handle Increased Pressures in a Topsy-Turvy Year

The past year has added even more challenges to the lives of students who are trying to keep up with academics and those who were already suffering from social-emotional issues. TASB’s Laura Bloemker talked to Sandra Tovar, director of guidance and counseling at Harlingen CISD, to get a sense of the work school counselors have done to assist students in an unprecedented year of upheaval.

What types of challenges are students facing?

Tovar: You have your normal issues that they’ve been dealing with, but I think more so right now is the feeling of isolation. They’re missing their friends, their teachers, their campus. Some students may want to be back on campus, but of course many parents are concerned about sending their children to the schools. So we have some children who are attending face-to-face, some that are totally virtual, and then we have a hybrid where children can come two days out of the week and the other days are at home. In general, they are all missing the normalcy of going to school.

How are you learning about the stresses that students are experiencing?

Tovar: Our counselors have been reaching out to students and calling and checking on them. They know the students who need that connection more than others. The counselors have created lessons that they provide for students once a week. Our elementary and middle school counselors are doing lessons with students so they’re still able to have that connection with our students. We also have on our website a way for students to reach out to the counselor, and we have counselor referral forms on our main homepage that anybody can use (students, parents, others).

Also, counselors sent a survey to all students to see how they’re doing. If a student reports back that they’re feeling a certain way, then the counselor knows to reach out to them by calling home or visiting with them if they’re on campus.

Our licensed professional counselor (LPC), which we had pre-COVID, is available to students and parents in the evening on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Our counselors refer students and parents to our LPC for Zoom or phone

appointments or do the Zoom counseling themselves with students who are at home. Using Zoom and connecting by phone has been the main way we’re checking on students. If the LPC is booked up, she can connect parents and students to outside counselors if needed.

What is the most challenging problem? Is it academic or social-emotional right now?

Tovar: If a student is not emotionally okay, they’re not going to be academically okay, because they’re not going to be focusing in on the academics. The child needs to be okay emotionally for them to even think about academics.

For some students who are staying at home, who are with perpetrators of abuse in the same home, all of that is now intensified. You have all the other abusive issues you were normally dealing with, and now you have this on top of it.

It sounds like you have a multipronged approach to reaching out to students. Is this an accurate assessment?

Tovar: The counselors already knew their population, and of course, some students or parents have reached out for help. They use the lessons and activities to reach out to all children. They focus most of their efforts on the students who are really in crisis right now.

One of the things we did when this started was to reach out to contacts in Child Protective Services and other agencies, as well as school resource officers from the Harlingen Police Department. If we’re concerned about a student, we make them aware of it so they can do a home visit.

We also use an app called Stop It if a student wants to report an issue, whether they are experiencing it personally or a friend is experiencing it, involving bullying, drugs, violence, suicidal thoughts, hurting themselves, etc.

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As the pandemic created new challenges for student learning, and additional uneasiness developed about social unrest and natural disasters, Harlingen CISD’s Guidance and Counseling Department responded by creating a special lesson plan for students. Lessons have been rolled

out weekly in a virtual environment with the hope that students receive the support they need to be successful.

Below is a sample of the kinds of lessons Harlingen CISD counselors have planned.H

Elementary Counseling Topics for 18 weeks

Week Topics

Week 1 COVID-19

Week 2 COVID-19

Week 3 Anxiety

Week 4 Anxiety

Week 5 Time Management

Week 6 Stress

Week 7 Stress

Week 8

Week 9

Expressing Feelings

Managing Feelings

Week 10 Respect

Week 11

Conflict Resolution

Week 12 Coping Skills

Week 13

Week 14



Week 15 Gratitude

Week 16 Kindness

Week 17 Positive Thinking

Week 18 Goal Setting

Discuss Concerns Regarding COVID-19

Staying Healthy and Calm

What Is Anxiety, Methods to Self-help

Techniques to Stay Calm

What Is Time Management? Why Is It Important?

What Is Stress? Using Time Management to Help with Stress

Techniques to Cope with Stress

Discuss Various Feelings and Emotions

Discuss Ways to Manage Feelings in a Positive Way

Respecting Other Ideas and Beliefs

How to Manage Your Work with Others in Times of Stress


Making a Positive You

Making a Better Community to Care for One Another

Being Thankful for the Little Things in Life

One Act of Kindness Can Make a Difference

Positive Mindset

Prepare for the Future You

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Middle School Counseling Topics for 18 weeks

Week Topics

Week 1 COVID-19


Week 2 COVID-19 Staying Healthy and Calm

Week 3 Anxiety

Week 4 Anxiety

What Is Anxiety? Methods to Self-help

Techniques to Stay Calm

Week 5 Time Management Using Time Management to Help with Stress

Week 6 Stress What Is Stress?

Week 7 Stress

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

Week 12

Week 13

Week 14


Techniques to Cope with Stress

Depression Cause, Economics, and Resources to Help Families

Depression Health Apps and Resources to Help Students with Depression

Respect Respecting Other Ideas and Beliefs

Conflict Resolution How to Manage Your Work with Others in Times of Stress

Coping Skills Self-help

Self-Esteem Making a Positive You

Anti-Bullying Making a Better Community to Care for One Another

Week 15 Gratitude Being Thankful for the Little Things in Life

Week 16 Kindness One Act of Kindness Can Make a Difference

Week 17 Positive Thinking Positive Mindset

Week 18 Goal Setting Prepare for the Future You

Topics Covered at the High School Level:

• Icebreakers

• Organizational Strategies

• Zoom Etiquette

• Time Management

• Character Strong Curriculum

• Counselor Contact Information

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Four-legged Therapy: Student Support Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

To say that the last 12 months have been difficult is an understatement. The pandemic has created isolation, hardships, discomfort, and uncertainty. Everyone needs a connection with others in order to feel safe. We are hardwired for connection, love, and a sense of belonging.

For students in special education at Northside ISD (Bexar County), that sense of connection is helped along by Mylie, a registered therapy dog.

An eight-year-old golden retriever/Great Pyrenees mix shelter dog, Mylie works with Special Education Counselor Melissa Allen-Jones as a related service to some students. Mylie provides a nonjudgmental space and unconditional love for the students she works with, plus (as the students call it) a little Mylie glitter (aka fur).

It’s part of Northside ISD’s effort to help students who are experiencing mental health issues that interfere with their school success, such as anxiety and depression, by offering counseling to help them better manage their symptoms. Teaching students how to take care of their emotional health better equips them for whatever life throws at them—like a pandemic.

Mylie Goes Virtual

During the COVID-19 crisis, students have learned that they are not alone. Mylie misses school, too. She misses pattering down the school hallways, greeting others, getting belly rubs.

So Mylie sends special messages and videos to connect with the students, as well as Zoom interaction. “Mylie Messages,” similar to baseball cards, contain messages that students can collect and keep in a safe place at home or school. The cards offer reminders of strategies explored during sessions, positive affirmations, and mindfulness skills.

Mylie shows students how to “shake off” sticky thoughts or use calming strategies when triggers arise. She also connects with students through short video clips, pictures, poems, and stories that help the students create a distance between themselves and their behavior that they would like to change.

A Safe Space

Children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders often suffer in silence in the school setting. Theirs is an invisible disability affecting school performance, social interaction, and overall well-being. When caring and engaged teachers, counselors, or school psychologists recognize the need for additional support, students may be referred for counseling as a related service.

Counseling provides a safe, judgment-free space to work through difficult things that life has thrown at them, and helps students develop the skills they need to be successful in school, such as emotional regulation, self-care to lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression, and selfconfidence.

Mylie fits into this space perfectly as she is a great istener, is completely nonjudgmental, and helps students feel loved and connected very quickly.

Mylie’s Successes

Here are just a couple of examples of the difference Mylie has made for students:

• For an elementary school student who struggled getting to school due to anxiety, Mylie’s presence provided a little motivation to help him address his fears head on. After meeting her, he agreed to “try” school a few days a week. Sessions with Mylie helped

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Photo courtesy of Northside ISD

address his anxiety as he learned strategies to help decrease the symptoms. Mylie Messages were left with him as reminders of what he had the power to do on the days in between his sessions with her. Attending only a few days a week turned into daily attendance—and eventually successful completion of his elementary years.

• Carrying the effects of early trauma, a learning disability, and a mental health diagnosis to school every day made it difficult for a fifth grader to act appropriately at school. Her emotional baggage led to noncompliance, inappropriate language, leaving the classroom, and sometimes physical aggression. Interactions with Mylie started out rough. The student often ignored Mylie’s gentle nudges with her nose and her wagging tail every time she came

Counseling provides a safe, judgment-free space to work through difficult things that life has thrown at them, and helps students develop the skills they need to be successful in school, such as emotional regulation, self-care to lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression, and self-confidence.

into the room. Week after week, Mylie showed up and showed her that no matter what, she loved the student and was ready to help. Mylie’s unconditional, nonjudgmental love eventually won her over. The student learned to trust the work she was doing in counseling. With Mylie sitting by her side, she shared her fears, her hopes and dreams, and started to love and accept herself.

Examples of Interventions

So what other kinds of work is Mylie doing at Northside ISD?

Helping Mylie follow commands like touch, leave it, and roll over is a fun and impactful way to show and teach students about distress tolerance, frustration tolerance, impulse control, and communication, both verbal and nonverbal. Other helpful examples include the following:

• Students create messages for Mylie’s cards based on what has worked for them. This is very empowering as students begin to see that they have control over their choices, and they get excited about creating messages that may help another student. Sample messages include “you are loved,” “calm mind, calm body,” “ride the wave,” “chase your dreams instead of squirrels,” “don’t let ‘stuff’ weigh you down,” “you matter,” and “half smile, try it, you’ll like it.”

• Petting or brushing Mylie offers students a way to experience appropriate touch and get and give hugs that they need.

• Playing games with Mylie provides humor when talking about things that “push their buttons.” Helping students learn what their own triggers are can be heavy, but Mylie lightens the session by ringing her buzzers when squirrels or birds come up on the list of triggers.

Considerations for AAT

If you are considering implementing animal-assisted therapy in your school district, consider the following:

• Understand the difference between animal-assisted therapy (AAT) and animal-assisted therapy in counseling (AAT-C) as defined by the American Counseling Association.

• Counselors should demonstrate professional competencies in general counseling before implementing AAT-C.

• Research organizations to ensure that evaluations needed to register as a therapy animal team adhere to national standards set by Pet Partners (petpartners.org).

• Understand the protocols for working as a therapy

animal team. Therapy animal and student needs must both be considered. Examples: Animals should not work more than two hours in a 24-hour period, be asked to perform in ways that make them uncomfortable, etc. Students should not be expected to work with therapy animals if they are uncomfortable around them or have allergies. Treating both with respect is a great way to model empathy and compassion when working with students.H

Monica Faulkenbery, APR, is assistant director of Communications for Northside ISD. Melissa Allen-Jones, MA, LPC, is special education counselor for Northside ISD.

Find mental health resources for school districts in the article "Planning for Mental Health Needs" in the September/October 2020 issue of Texas Lone Star, p. 26 (texaslonestaronline.org/texaslonestar/septoct2020).

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Supporting Students in Foster Care

Legal Guidance for Increasing Opportunities for Success

Nearly 16,000 school-age students are in the Texas foster care system at any given time.1 In Texas and across the country, students in foster care have diminished academic outcomes. When a student is placed in a new foster home and changes schools, the student may lose academic progress, important relationships, and other activities and resources that contributed to the student’s academic and social-emotional experience at school.

Educational stability is key to supporting students in foster care. This article will discuss ways to strengthen educational stability so that districts can minimize interruption in schooling and increase opportunities for students in foster care to succeed.

Importantly, ESSA requires a student in foster care to remain in their school of origin, that is the school that they attended before entering foster care or a change of placement, unless it is not in the child’s best interest.4 While the determination is generally made by the child welfare agency, ESSA requires that the decision be made with consideration of the student’s circumstances, including the appropriateness of the current education setting and the proximity to the school from the foster care placement.5

School districts can and should participate in the determination of what is in the child’s best interest. Many of the factors that help determine which school the child should attend are best answered by school employees who are knowledge-

website.6 School employees who might be best suited to fill out the form include the student’s teacher or coach, a counselor, or a foster care liaison.

Transition Assistance

Every Student Succeeds Act

In December 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implemented a new requirement for the disaggregation of foster care data on the annual state report cards on student achievement.2 In the four years since ESSA, the data has revealed troubling statistics on educational outcomes.3 But ESSA also includes new provisions to give students in foster care better educational stability and to ensure that districts and child welfare agencies collaborate to serve students.

able about the student’s particular needs, including academic programs, activities, relationships and mentorships, and preferences.

To assist in this collaborative effort, TASB provides a sample editable template for school employees to fill out and share with the child welfare agency. The form is available through TASB Policy Service’s Regulations Resource Manual with a myTASB account. The form is also publicly available on the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) Foster Care and Student Success

Each district is required by state law to appoint at least one employee to serve as the foster care liaison.7 A foster care liaison is tasked with facilitating the enrollment and transfer of students in foster care. For many districts, the foster care liaison serves an even larger role in assisting with the student’s transition and stabilization. The foster care liaison is often alerted when a current student at the school is placed in foster care or when a student in foster care transfers into the school.

In June 2020, TEA adopted new rules to promote education stability and success for highly mobile students, including students who are homeless and students

18 Texas Lone Star | April 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org Legal News
Each district is required by state law to appoint at least one employee to serve as the foster care liaison.

in foster care. These rules require districts to develop systems to ease the transition of students who are in foster care and enrolled at a new school. Districts must now conduct an enrollment conference within two weeks of a student being enrolled at the new school.8 A student transferred into a new school should be able to continue the education programs and courses from the prior school, to the extent possible.

The availability of programs, including gifted and talented, bilingual and language services, and early college high school, should be factored into a best interest determination when deciding if a student should transfer to a new school or continue to attend the school of origin.


A student in foster care may be placed in a foster care residence far from

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2021 | Texas Lone Star 19 Your TASB Member Center is a one-stop shop where you can: l Access Policy On Line® and BoardBook®
Report and review continuing education credit
Read articles related to your role
Learn about upcoming events and deadlines Visit tasb.org/new-member-center to learn more. A website crafted just for you. Now open to trustees, superintendents, and district staff!

the student’s school of origin. When the student’s best interests require remaining in the school of origin, the issue of transportation can be tricky. Districts should develop an individual transportation plan for each student in foster care that requires additional transportation outside the school’s attendance boundaries.

TASB offers sample administrative procedures for districts to collaborate with the child welfare agency, including districtwide transportation strategies and an individual transportation plan template. Transportation strategies might include arranging transportation to a bus stop near the school of origin, coordinating transportation with the district where the student resides, or even contracting with a private transportation company or using public transportation.

Districts may face additional costs in transporting a student. When possible, the costs should be shared with the child welfare agency as described by ESSA.9 Districts may also be able to use state and local funds or federal funding under Title IV-E.10 School officials should be aware that funding can be challenging and should think and budget creatively and accordingly.


Accessing educational programs and services without major disruption is important for all students, but it is imperative for at-risk populations like students in foster care. Schools are empowered to be a place of stability for students in foster care by addressing each student’s unique situation and transition needs. By providing a school that students can call home, school officials can make a difference.

For more information about child welfare issues generally, see TASB Legal Services Child Welfare Issues Chart available at tasb.org/services/legal-services/ tasb-school-law-esource/students/documents/child-welfare-issues-chart.aspx

1Tex. Educ. Agency, Foster Care and Student Success, tea.texas.gov/academics/special-student-populations/foster-care-and-student-success/foster-care-student-success

220 U.S.C. § 6311(h)(1)(C)(ii)-(iii).

3Tex. Educ. Agency, School Report Cards, tea.texas. gov/texas-schools/accountability/academic-accountability/performance-reporting/school-reportcards

420 U.S.C. § 6311(g)(1)(E).

520 U.S.C. § 6311(g)(1)(E)(i).

6Tex. Educ. Agency, Foster Care and Student Success, Information and Resources, tea.texas.gov/academics/ special-student-populations/foster-care-and-student-success/foster-care-student-success-information-and-resources

7Tex. Educ. Code § 33.904. Foster care liaison contact information can be obtained through the Texas Education Agency’s AskTED and is often listed in a district’s FFC(REGULATION).

819 Tex. Admin. Code § 89.1605(b).

920 U.S.C. § 6312(c)(5).

10US Dept. of Educ. and HHS Foster Care Non-Regulatory Guidance (June 23, 2016), https://www2.ed.gov/ policy/elsec/leg/essa/edhhsfostercarenonregulatorguide.pdf

20 Texas Lone Star | April 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org FREE TO TASB MEMBERS Register today! tasb.org/shars-conf Join this virtual event to gain an in-depth understanding of School Health and Related Services (SHARS)/Medicaid billing best practices.
Jasmine Wightman is a senior attorney with TASB Legal Services.
Schools are empowered to be a place of stability for students in foster care by addressing each student’s unique situation and transition needs.

Training (from page 5)

work is research based and demonstrates that student outcomes are improved when teams of eight harness their collective thoughts, energies, and commitments to working in concert with one another.

Goals of Whole-Board Learning

In my own district of Fort Bend ISD, we recently elected three new school board members; thus, almost half of our board is brand new. XG’s whole-board learning and training would greatly help our team of eight to:

• Commit to a shared vision with high expectations for students and staff

• Focus on understanding data to monitor and make governance decisions

• Apply a goal-monitoring system to improve focus

• Share a common understanding of and commitment to ongoing improvement

• Develop common messages that

support relentless focus on student learning outcomes

• Communicate the goals and expectations for the board and district with the community

Time to Refocus

Now that 2020 is thankfully behind us, it is time for us all to refocus our efforts and dedicate ourselves to improving the lives of our students through education. Training, team building, and classes, such as TASB’s XG program, can help us achieve this.

So, who needs school board training— or, more to the point, collective team-ofeight training? We all do, and as I have discovered in my last decade of service, we must engage in an ongoing cycle of learning and improvement to support our districts and students.H

Spring Workshops may look a little different this year, but the custom learning content offered at each location is better than ever. Register for one of the locations below to connect with local trustees, learn about the latest needto-know information, and earn Continuing Education Credit hours.

The following schedule is tentative

April 6

April 14

April 20

April 26

May 4

May 5

May 11

May 12

May 13

May 14 & 15

May 18

May 19

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Need help evaluating compensation? TASB HR Services provides assistance by: • Evaluating market pay • Recommending pay strategies • Building pay structures
Improving salary schedules 800.580.7782 hrservices@tasb.org @tasbhrs
Jim Rice, a Fort Bend ISD trustee, is 2020-21 president of TASB.
Workshops! Visit tasb.org/springworkshops for updates. Nacogdoches • Virtual Houston • Virtual Lubbock • Virtual Uvalde • Virtual Alpine • Virtual Huntsville • Virtual Commerce • Virtual Canyon • Hybrid Abilene • Hybrid South Padre • TBD Waco • Virtual El Paso • Virtual
2021 Spring

Trustees Gather Online for Legislative Conference

More Advocacy Opportunities Ahead

TASB partnered with the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) to hold our joint Legislative Conference and advocacy day on March 12. More than 500 school trustees and administrators participated in the virtual meeting, which featured remarks from Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Comptroller Glenn Hegar, and State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas).

The conference also included interviews with Senate Education Committee Chair Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), House Public Education Committee Chair Harold Dutton (D-Houston), and House Public Education Committee and

Appropriations Committee Member Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston), moderated by Northside ISD (Bexar County) Superintendent and TASA President Brian Woods.

Gov. Abbott thanked attendees for their service and recapped some of the steps the state has taken to support public schools since last session. Lt. Gov. Patrick talked about the Legislature’s support of education and his intention to not censor school districts by prohibiting them from hiring or joining associations that employ individuals to advocate on their behalf. Comptroller Hegar provided an overview of the state budget that was much more favorable than just a few months ago, while Sen. West urged school leaders to

stay engaged in the process and contact their legislators to effect change.

Panel discussions focused on making up for learning losses during the pandemic, expanding access to broadband, legislators’ commitment to maintaining funding levels promised in last session’s school finance reform, and the importance of school districts’ ability to lobby at the capitol.

At the close of the conference, attendees were sent to texansforstrongpublicschools.org to send letters to their state legislators on two priorities—community censorship and the use of federal relief funds.

TASB and TASA would like to thank the legislators who participated and the school leaders who attended.

Post-Legislative Conference Set for June 19 and 26

TASB Governmental Relations and Legal Services staff will hold their popular Post-Legislative Conference on the Saturday after Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) this year—not on Wednesday as they are traditionally held. Please make note of the new dates: June 19 in San Antonio and June 26 in Fort Worth.

As always, the conference, held in conjunction with SLI, will provide an overview of new legislation that will impact Texas school districts.

Board members will earn Tier 3 continuing education credit or may use attendance to fulfill the requirement that

22 Texas Lone Star | April 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org Capitol Watch

experienced board members receive an update on the Texas Education Code following a legislative session. Additionally, all Post-Legislative Conference attendees also will receive a copy of the TASB 2021 Legislative Summary when the final document is completed.

Registration opens April 28 at tasb.org/SLI

TASB Calling for Advocacy Resolutions

The TASB call for resolutions is still open! Make sure your district’s voice is heard and included in the TASB Advocacy Agenda. Submit resolutions that will guide TASB’s response to legislative issues for the remainder of the biennial agenda.

Districts can add to the current advocacy resolutions; there is no need to submit resolutions that are already contained in the Advocacy Agenda unless your district would like to amend those resolutions. The revised agenda will guide TASB’s advocacy efforts during the interim of the 87th session from the fall of 2021 through the summer of 2022.

The deadline for submitting resolutions is June 15, 2021.

For more information, visit gr.tasb.org or contact Dax Gonzalez at 800.580.4885 or dax.gonzalez@tasb.org

Current resolutions may be found at tasb.org/legislative/tasb-advocacy-agenda/resolutions.aspx.

Join the Legislative Advocacy Game

TASB created the Legislative Advocacy Game to help inform trustees on legislative issues, build advocacy skills, and connect with legislators. Have you joined the game yet? It’s easy to log in, view the task board, and start completing tasks. You’ll collect points for each task you complete to

illustrate your involvement—and possibly be named Advocate of the Year! Find out more at https://www.tasb.org/members/ advocate-district/tasbadvocacy-game.H

Low Energy Prices You Can Count On



July 15

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for application submissions.
Dax Gonzalez is division director of TASB Governmental Relations.
April 1–30 Session Selector
May 10–25
Vote on which sessions you want to attend. An invitation to share feedback will be emailed to board members, superintendents, and administrators before these dates.
Presenters receive notification of session decisions and next steps. 24–26, 2021 Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas #tasatasb

The Power of Program Reviews

Increasing Chances of Success for Your Most Vulnerable Students

Students who receive services through special education, Section 504, and English learner programs are among the most vulnerable in your district, and often the most challenging to appropriately educate. These program areas are guided by a multitude of federal and state laws and policies and have complex and multifaceted requirements that have the potential for identification of noncompliance and potential litigation. To effectively meet the often-complicated needs of students in these programs and maintain program compliance, it is vital that comprehensive, practical, written procedures be in place.

However, that is only the first step to enhance the educational experience of these students. Intentional, systematic,

and ongoing reviews of your special programs can increase the chances of student success. Engaging in the program review process is a proactive step that has numerous benefits for your district. These benefits include but are not limited to monitoring compliance, increasing alignment and consistency throughout the district, fostering communication among stakeholders, potentially avoiding costly and time-consuming litigation, and, most importantly, ensuring that the varied and demanding needs of students in special populations programs are met.

Program Review Options

Districts can engage in systematic and ongoing program reviews with their own staff. A program review can also be completed by an external entity. This is often

the choice of districts seeking an unbiased, comprehensive look at a particular area. Whether done internally or externally, reviews of this sort have the potential to provide valuable information regarding overall compliance and effectiveness of a program at a given moment in time.

Program reviews can be powerful means to address concerns, expand on identified best practices, and establish procedures around specific program requirements. To truly impact student success, however, a program review should not be a one-time occurrence. Program review should be a systematic and ongoing process with a focus on continuous improvement.

How a district engages in this process will vary depending on specific and individual needs. A program review can consist of one or more components, including a targeted review of documentation, focused stakeholder interviews, and classroom observations. Whichever piece or combination of pieces is used will depend on multiple factors, which could include historic areas of concern, identified areas of noncompliance, adherence to information provided in professional development, and/or concerns articulated by a parent or staff member.

A documentation review includes two separate parts. First is the review of individual student records. Special education, Section 504, and English learner programs each have a specific set of requirements. Documentation of decision-making meetings, parent communication, and other relevant components that show adherence to these require-

24 Texas Lone Star | April 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org
Facilitating Student Success

ments should be kept in a folder specific to the child. Whether this folder is kept electronically, in paper format, or both, these need to be regularly reviewed to

ensure that all necessary components are included. It is recommended that this be done monthly, at a minimum, and that a checklist be used to document findings.

The second part of the documentation review is a review of the written procedures and practices that are needed to effectively carry out the program. These should be living documents that are updated as needed and thoroughly reviewed at least annually to ensure that written processes and actual practices are in alignment.

Things to Consider

To assist in planning how a systematic and ongoing program review will be carried out, the following should be taken

into consideration:

• Who? Consider whether district and/or campus-level personnel will complete the activity. Determine if it will be the same people each time or a rotating group. Consider including individuals from outside of the particular program area.

• What? Establish which documentation will be regularly reviewed and whether the paper and/or electronic versions will be used.

• Where? Determine if each component will occur at a central location such as a district office or at each individual campus.

(See Reviews, page 33.)

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The TASB Executive Search Services Difference: Hands-on, relationship-focused service Broad local and state knowledge Personalized and thorough search process Education industry specialist Satisfaction guaranteed tasb.org/ess executive.search@tasb.org 800.580.8272
Program reviews can be powerful means to address concerns, expand on identified best practices, and establish procedures around specific program requirements.
the next level.

SBOE Names Math and Science Teachers in PAEMST Awards

The Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) recently honored eight outstanding Texas teachers who were named as Texas representatives for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

PAEMST is the highest recognition a mathematics or science teacher in the United States can receive for exemplary teaching. The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The 2019 awards recognized mathematics and science teachers in 7th-12th grade whose innovative methods bring teaching to life in the classroom.

The 2019 Texas national awardees are:

• Bridget Matamoros-Mota (mathematics), who began her teaching career 12 years ago at John H. Guyer High School (Denton ISD). She is currently serving as the mathematics department chair and teaches statistics, Advanced Placement (AP) statistics, and dual-credit statistics.

• Kay Fincher (science), who has been an educator for 30 years. She has taught physics for 20 years at Amarillo High School (Amarillo ISD) and currently teaches 10th12th grade AP Physics 1 and 2. For the past 11 years she has also taught introductory physics at Amarillo College. For a decade prior to that, she taught 7th-8th grade science.

The 2020 Texas finalists for K-6th Grade Mathematics are:

• Kristen Butler—6th Grade math teacher at Medlin Middle School, Northwest ISD

• Desirae Harcrow—kindergarten teacher at Timber Creek Elementary School, Tomball ISD

• Kassidy Wagner—6th Grade PreAP math teacher at Rogers Middle School, Prosper ISD

The 2020 Texas finalists for K-6th Grade Science are:

• Kelli Abueita—5th Grade math and science teacher at Creekview Elementary School, Tomball ISD

• Hannah Cotton—5th grade science and health teacher at Hill Elementary School, Austin ISD

• Lori Garrett—Pre-K-4th grade science and enrichment teacher at Cactus Elementary School, Dumas ISD

Award Details

To achieve recognition through this program, a teacher must first apply to enter the competition or be nominated for the award. A state panel consisting of master teachers, content specialists, and administrators reviews the applications and selects the most outstanding math and science teachers for the National Science Foundation to consider for national awardee status.

After this initial selection process, a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators may select two teachers from each state and US jurisdiction for the national award.

PAEMST awardees receive a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation, a certificate signed by the president of the United States, and a trip to Washington, DC, to attend recognition events and also to take part in professional development opportunities.

For additional information about the PAEMST program, visit paemst.org.H

26 Texas Lone Star | April 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org
News & Events

Overdue special education operating procedures?

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2021 | Texas Lone Star 27 Learn More tasb.org/student-solutions/membership 888.247.4829
a Student Solutions Membership, we can help your district meet the new TEA regulation quickly by:
Personalizing our model procedures, reviewed by attorneys and special education professionals
Submitting them to The Legal Framework for you
us about our comprehensive customization services! Follow us on Instagram @tasbphotos Find us on Facebook Texas Association of School Boards TASB Risk Management Fund TASB HR Services Follow us on Twitter @tasbnews @tasbrmf TASB Risk Management Fund @tasbhrs TASB HR Services @tasblegal TASB Legal Services
• And more Ask


On March 3-6, trustees from across the state gathered for several days of learning and inspiration at Governance Camp. Although they met online instead of by the sea (the conference is typically held in Galveston), attendees enjoyed the same level of professional development, camaraderie, and student input they have come to expect at this event. Here's a small sample of what attendees experienced.

GOVERNANCE SESSIONS on these and many more topics:

• Advocacy

• Shared leadership

• Governance issues

• Board policy

• Responding to active shooter events

• Narrowing the gap

• Inclusive learning

• Personnel costs

• Positive work environments

• Mindfulness

• Student mental health

• Board’s role as judge, jury, and justice

• Inequity in public schools


• One-act play by the Woodville ISD Middle School theater class

• A game of TASB-Opoly, led by Leadership TASB alumni

• Old Games and New Learning—a board game about life where “winning” involves more than just rolling the dice

• Student Scholarship Panel

• Where Are the Leaders that Look Like Us? (TASB Talks podcast)

• Brown Bag Lunch Chat Rooms

• COVID-19: Back to the Future Series

LEARNING LOUNGES on these and many more topics:

• Communication styles

• Student success

• Assessing student learning during a pandemic

• Legal ramifications of texting

• Women in leadership roles

• Serving students with disabilities

• Election issues/redistricting

• Race and equity issues

• Risk management

• Cybersecurity


On Thursday, Mawi Asgedom, an expert on social-emotional learning, presented the opening general session, reminding everyone that “the student is the heart of every decision.”

Asgedom asked trustees to focus on two key social and emotional learning (SEL) components as they approach their service within their home districts—resilience and empathy. He acknowledged the hardship that COVID-19 has brought to our school communities and encouraged everyone to shine light into the dark places and amplify the good. A final reminder: “There’s no more important time for you to lead and be your best than when your community is at its worst.”

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On Friday, education sociologist Anindya Kundu spoke about student agency— defined as the student’s capacity to leverage resources to navigate obstacles and create positive change in their life. Agency takes into consideration the student’s background and current situation and forces us to think about what students already have.

“All students have agency. That’s the starting point,” said Kundu. “Our job is to locate that initial locus of agency and create ways for students to tap into it.”


Friday focused on Student Voice, with a full day of sessions presented by Texas students. A Student Scholarship Panel offered the perspective of the following Texas students, who received $1,000 scholarships for their participation:

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The panel was moderated by Paula Roalson Maddox, attorney and partner with Walsh Gallegos Treviño Russo and Kyle, P.C., sponsor of the Student Voice segment of the event. JAXSON BUTLER SEGUIN ISD MALENA HEINEMAN AUSTIN ISD

TASA School Board, Teacher Award Nominations Open This Month

April is the month that the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) opens nominations for two prestigious awards programs.

School Board Awards Program

Each year, TASA recognizes outstanding school boards through the association’s School Board Awards program. Initiated in 1971, the program recognizes school boards whose dedication and ethical service have made a positive impact on the schoolchildren of Texas.

Nominations for the 2021 School Board Awards will open April 14 and are due by June 15 of this year.

For details, visit tasanet.org/awards/school-board-awards.

Texas Teacher of the Year

TASA’s Texas Teacher of the Year award is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a teacher in Texas. Since 2011, the program has recognized teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching. School districts have until June 3 to submit nominations for the 2022 Texas Teacher of the Year.

For more information, visit tasanet.org/awards/texasteacher-of-the-year H

30 Texas Lone Star | April 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org TASB’s Executive Search Services is currently accepting applications for the positions listed below: For more information about vacancies or services provided by TASB’s Executive Search Services, call 800.580.8272, email executive.search@tasb.org, or visit ess.tasb.org Brazos ISD. Superintendent. Application deadline: April 21 NEED QUICK ANSWERS TO LEGAL QUESTIONS? TASB Legal Services can help with Quick Guides. Our School Official’s Quick Guide series offers convenient flip-chart publications that cover the basics on: • Nepotism and Other Conflicts of Interest • The Texas Open Meetings Act • Grievances Visit store.tasb.org to order or to find out more. ONLY $10 FOR TASB MEMBERS!

txEDCON21 Session Selector Accepting Applications April 1-30

What is Session Selector?

Session Selector is the two-component process created for both presenters and attendees: (1) presenters submit proposal applications for sessions, and then (2) attendees review and provide feedback as to which sessions they’re interested in attending at this year’s event.

How does the selection process work?

1. April 1-30: School board members, administrators, and public education experts wanting to present at this year’s Convention must complete and submit the Session Selector online application at tasa.tasb.org.

2. May 10–25: School board members, superintendents, and administrators help create their own learning experience for this year’s event by voting on which sessions they are interested

in attending. An invitation to share feedback will be emailed to these groups before voting opens.

3. After attendees vote on the sessions, TASA | TASB will evaluate the proposals based on the following criteria:

• How well the title, description, and learning objectives align with each other

• How likely it is that the format and delivery methods selected will allow participants to achieve the stated learning objectives, including audience engagement appropriate to the objectives

• Presenter(s)’ knowledge in the topic area

• How likely conference participants will attend or recommend someone attend the session

4 July 15: Presenters receive notification of whether their proposal session application has been chosen for txEDCON21, and if selected, what the next steps are to prepare for this year’s event.

Visit tasa.tasb.org to learn more about Session Selector and to access the submission portal.H

• BoardBook® Premier—User-friendly board agenda preparation software for compiling meeting documents, agendas, and minutes.

• BoardBook® Manuals—Quick and easy document management hosting software for policies, regulations, and codes.

For more information, including product demonstrations, visit boardbook.org.

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In-person, virtual, or hybrid board meetings— we do it all!

Bulletin Board

TEA Releases Public Health Planning Guidance

On March 12, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) released a guidance document for Texas public school systems addressing the public health situation and how schools should respond.

The document takes effect immediately; however, changes to the public health situation in the coming months may necessitate changes to this guidance.

The guidance is authorized by Executive Order GA-34, which has the effect of state law under Section 418.012 of the Texas Government Code. Executive Order GA-34 provides TEA with the legal authority to publish requirements for the operation of public school systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. TEA recommends that public schools consult with their local public health authorities and local legal counsel before making final decisions regarding the implementation of this guidance.

The guidance addresses:

• On-campus and virtual instruction

• Administrative activities by teachers, staff, or students that occur on school campuses or virtually

• Non-UIL extracurricular sports and activities

• Any other activities that teachers, staff, or students must complete that cannot be accomplished virtually

• Visits by parents and the general public

Find the complete document and other resources relevant to schools and the COVID-19 pandemic at tea.texas.gov/coronavirus.

National Safe School Reopening Summit Available Online

The US Department of Education (USDE) hosted a virtual National Safe School Reopening Summit on March 24 as part of a series of steps the Department is taking to provide support and resources to schools as they reopen.

The program included remarks from First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel A. Cardona, and Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Rochelle Walensky. Three panels featured health experts, educators and education leaders, and students.

Cardona said the USDE planned the Summit “with the goal of sharing best practices and connecting leaders, educators, and students from across this country who are navigating this challenge together and finding creative solutions to support our students and bring them back to in-person learning.”

A recording of the Summit is available online at https://m.facebook.com/ ED.gov/videos/721091288578059

TLA Conference Welcomes School Administrators

School administrators can learn about issues and trends impacting school library services, as well as how to leverage the expertise of school libraries in influencing student achievement, at the virtual Texas Library Association (TLA) 2021 School Administrators Conference April 22.

Registration is free, and administrators also receive complimentary registration to the TLA Annual Conference. Librarians recommend their school administrators and are invited to attend alongside their administrator as a collaborative partner.

Learn more at https://txla.org/ tla-groups/divisions/texas-association-of-school-librarians/school-administrators-conference

H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards Postponed

The H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards have been postponed until 2022, due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding large gatherings. The awards celebration, usually held in May each year, gives away cash prizes to deserving teachers, principals, and school districts.

Nominations are welcome for the 2022 awards program through October 18 of this year.

Read more about the awards at heb. com/education, and stay tuned for new ways H-E-B may be honoring educators in 2021.

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

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Helping Hands (from page 7)

out to students and checking in on them, calling the home to see how they’re doing and visiting with them.”

A Furry Friend in Northside

In Northside ISD, Mylie, a golden retriever/Great Pyrenees mix shelter dog, works with Special Education Counselor Melissa Allen-Jones to provide counseling as a related service to students.

For example, an elementary school student who struggled getting to school due to anxiety was helped by Mylie’s calming presence, which provided motivation to address his fears head on. After meeting Mylie, the student agreed to “try” school a few days a week. Sessions with Mylie helped address his anxiety as he learned strategies to help decrease the symptoms. Messages from Mylie were left with him as reminders of what he had the power to do on the days in between his sessions with her. Attending only a few days a week turned into daily attendance and successful completion of his elementary years. These are just a few samples of how Texas public schools are stepping up to meet students’ special needs in this unprecedented time. Read more about it in the feature section of this edition of Texas Lone Star H

• When? Consider the frequency with which the activity will be done.

• Why? Identify the purpose of a specific activity before engaging in it. Think about the individual needs of your district. Establish the criteria that will be used prior to starting.

• How? Identify how data/information attained from this process will be used to impact individual student performance and overall continuous improvement. Plan how the information will be shared with relevant stakeholders. Consider what training can be provided and/or what updates to written processes should occur to address identified issues.

Board Member Support

Establishing and implementing an intentional, systematic, and ongoing program review process may seem like an overwhelming and time-consuming task. However, it does not have to be. Look at the district’s specific data and determine the greatest area of need. Start with that area and build from there. As this process continues, the district will establish what works best to meet its current needs and address any issues that are found.

Board members can support this process in the following ways:

• Learn about district programs that support students with disabilities and second language learners.

• Acknowledge and celebrate what is going well.

• Address issues honestly, openly, and without placing blame.

• Recognize the complexity and challenges of providing services to these populations of students.

• Remember that the overall purpose of systematic program reviews is continuous improvement. This is not a “gotcha” situation.

• Support professional development to address areas of concern identified through the review process.H Denise Carter

Roger White is managing editor of Texas Lone Star
Visit tasb.org/sli to take a look at this year’s conference preview, which includes: • Attendance options • Registration information • Housing details San Antonio, Fort Worth, or Virtual? You choose—three options to get the engaging learning you have come to expect and love with SLI! SAN ANTONIO June 16–19, 2021 FORT WORTH June 23–26, 2021 Reviews (from page 25) texaslonestaronline.org | April 2021 | Texas Lone Star 33
is an education support account executive with TASB Student Solutions.

Stepping into Big Shoes

Shining Examples Will Help Guide the Way

As many of you know, TASB’s long-serving associate executive director of Communications and Public Relations, Karen Strong, recently retired after more than 32 years of service—leaving some very big shoes to fill. This note of introduction as Karen’s replacement, therefore, starts with the simple declaration that I’m fully aware Karen can’t be replaced. She will remain a legend here at TASB, and at school districts across the state, and rightfully so.

Over the course of more than three decades, Karen demonstrated a true commitment to serving TASB members and a fierce dedication to Texas schoolchildren. Hopefully, with hard work and a resolve that is kindred to Karen’s own dedicated approach to service, I can help ensure that her good work continues and grows. That’s the goal I’ve set for myself as I start this new position.

When COVID conditions improve, I look forward to meeting more of our TASB members in person. It’s the stories of hard-working school board members— and the students, families, and staff they in turn support—that drew me to this work. That’s why I’ve placed a “note to self” in my office near my computer, in a spot I can easily see. It’s meant to keep me focused, grounded, and energized for the work ahead.

I call this little reminder…

Lessons learned from two amazing school board presidents

Lesson #1: Work hard, show up, and stay present. While this practice might sound straightforward, watching current Spring ISD Board President Rhonda

Newhouse approach her work in this way —day-in and day-out—has been nothing less than awe inspiring. For instance:

• Ms. Newhouse is always thoroughly prepared. At every board meeting and board work session, she knows the agenda well and is ready with questions that advance and enrich necessary conversations.

• Every chance she gets, she spends time talking directly with students. And when I say talk, I mean full-on engaged talking—looking each student in the eye, getting to know them, and making them feel like they are the most important person in the room.

• At every parent meeting, she is warm and approachable, combining the professionalism of a lifelong educator with the care and compassion of a fellow parent, grandparent, and community member. She listens closely, pays attention, and follows through on her promises.

• With district staff, she is knowledgeable, kind, and always ready to help and support employees whenever needed.

Lesson #2: Listen to what your data is telling you, and use it to improve your work. I’ve always been passionate about data-driven storytelling. That’s why I loved watching and listening to Dr. Deborah Jensen, Spring ISD’s former board president. Trained in the sciences, not only does she deeply understand and respect data, but Dr. Jensen is also keenly aware of how data should be used. For instance:

• She knows that data-driven decisions are most powerful when aligned to budgetary decisions.

• She analyzes data through a servicefirst, outcome-oriented lens, always asking deep questions about what can be done to better serve students, staff, and families.

• Also, her approach to data is never about “gotcha” moments or simply meeting predefined targets. Rather, Dr. Jensen uses data and the crucial discussions it can drive as part of an iterative practice of continuous improvement—always focusing conversations on reflection, learning, and doing better.

So, there you have it. One pair of very big shoes to fill and a few lessons learned from two outstanding board members. I hope some of these lessons might resonate with others as much as they have resonated—and continue to resonate—with me. I also trust that readers who worked closely with Karen Strong will be reminded of the wonderful lessons learned from working with her as well.

I know these three incredible leaders will continue to serve as touchstones for inspiration and guidance on my own journey forward in service to you and to the schools and students of this great state. They offer quite a legacy to live up to, but stepping into the paths they have formed leaves me excited to be here, joining together with you in this work!H

34 Texas Lone Star | April 2021 | texaslonestaronline.org A Final Note
Tiffany Dunne-Oldfield


Board Development

All of our board development opportunities are designed to help you make better decisions to improve student success.

TASB’s XG Board Development

If your board were governing well, what would that look like?

Learn how to empower your board to govern successfully and positively affect student success.

tasb.org/XG • #XGTASB • #BoardDevTASB

Additional opportunities for convenient training

Understanding School Finance: 2020 Update

This course will give you an up-to-date overview of the essentials of the school finance system in just an hour! Available at no cost to members (for continuing education credit).

Just log in at onlinelearning.tasb.org (OLC) using your myTASB credentials to enroll. Email onlinelearning@tasb.org if you need help or have any questions.

You can also choose many other courses for trustees in the OLC.

texaslonestaronline.org | April 2021 | Texas Lone Star 35 Is
For information on any of these offerings: 800.580.8272, ext. 2453 • board.dev@tasb.org tasb.org/board-dev • onlinelearning.tasb.org
your board ready to move forward with exceptional governance?
See ads for Spring Workshops, Summer Leadership Institute, and TASA | TASB Convention in this issue!
Empowering Education through eXceptional Governance
NONPROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PAID AUSTIN TEXAS PERMIT NO 1422 Texas Association of School Boards P.O. Box 400 Austin, Texas 78767-0400 “A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity. ”—Buddha 2020–21 Business Recognition Program Thank businesses and organizations for supporting Texas public schools. Submit names using the online form. Receive an individual presentation packet for each honoree. Submission deadline is July 16, 2021. tasb.org/brp • 800.580.8272
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