August 2020

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A Publication of the Texas Association of School Boards | Volume 38, Number 7 | August 2020 Texas Lone Star Also in This Edition: The Journey to Excellence Seguin ISD Models Exceptional Governance Laying the Right Foundation Marshall ISD Opens Early Childhood Center Sign of the Times Boards Seeing Many Advantages, Opportunities by Going Paperless

Featured Event




3 • Regional Nominations for Texas Teacher of the Year Due to Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA)

4 • Texas Honor School Board Award Winners Announced by TASA • AASA Aspiring Superintendents Academy (Virtual)

5 • TASA First-Time Superintendents Academy, Session 1 (Virtual) • Texas Association of School Business Officials Technology Leadership Webinar

6 • TASB “Preparing to Serve: A Webinar for School Board Candidates” Webinar

18 • TASB “What Board Members Need to Know about Sexual Abuse, Sex Trafficking, and Other Maltreatment of Children” Webinar • Deadline to Participate in TASB Superintendent Salary Survey

21 • Delegate/Alternate Preregistration Deadline for TASB Delegate Assembly

26 • TASB “SB 1566 Training: Governance for Improved Student Learning”

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

Steve Brown, Ector County ISD, Region 18

Kamlesh Bhikha, ESC 2, ESC Representative

Steve Brown, Ector County ISD, Region 18

Kevin A. Carbo, Mesquite ISD, Region 10D

Bob Covey, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Region 4F

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

Anne Sung, Houston ISD, Region 4

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 or call TASB at 512.467.0222 or 800.580.8272 toll-free.

2 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 | Calendar
• State Board of Education Meetings, Austin
First-Time Superintendents
• National School Boards Association (NSBA) School Safety Virtual Summit
• AASA Aspiring Superintendents Academy (Virtual)
• NSBA Council of Urban Boards of Education Virtual Annual Conference 30-October 2 • TASA | TASB Convention txEDCON Virtual Event
28-29 • Regional Superintendent of the Year Winner Interviews; Finalists Chosen by TASB State Selection Committee SEPTEMBER 8-11
9 • TASA
Academy, Session 2 (Virtual) 16-17


8 Sign of the Times

School district leaders are finding the switch to paperless—including paperless board meetings—not only saves time and money but models today’s education environment.


2 Calendar 24 Legal News

28 Capital Watch

30 Good Governance

34 News & Events


5 From the Top

7 Editor’s Footnote

42 Q & A

14 The Journey to Excellence

Seguin ISD made a commitment in 2017 to undertake a three-year journey to learn and model exceptional school district governance. Read Part One of this two-part series.

18 Laying the Right Foundation

To ensure student success at all levels, Marshall ISD decided to transform its Pre-K campus into a comprehensive early childhood center—and the results are impressive.

Texas Lone Star • Volume 38, Number 7

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.

Texas Lone Star does not guarantee publication of unsolicited manuscripts.

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

For more information about and our related sites, contact TASB Online Communications at 512.467.0222 or 800.580.8272 toll-free or visit

Follow | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 3
Contents | August 2020 Web Watch
Learn while social distancing: Browse a catalog of interactive, online continuing education courses from TASB at
Cover design by Kristie Robles
He is counting on you. Speak up for our children. Speak up for Texas public schools.

More Questions than Answers for 2020-21

Trustees, Parents, Teachers All Have Concerns

Parent, Teacher Questions

Questions, questions, questions— and more questions! Now is such a time of uncertainty. At a time like this, the best advice I can give I borrowed from Anna Maria Chávez, the newly appointed executive director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA). When describing herself, she says she spends a lot of time listening and she does not assume she knows everything. Now that is some solid advice.

As board members and community leaders, we need to listen. We need to listen to the public sector in our local community, especially to the questions from our students’ parents and teachers. We need to heed advice of the medical professionals. Local mandates and recommendations by government officials are important. But we, too, need to ask questions.

We need to ask a plethora of questions. As we do with every school issue, we must look at the data. Raw assumptions and guesswork are not going to cut it at this juncture. Things to consider include how we address learning loss, equity, and the physical and emotional toll the pandemic is taking on children and staff, as explained by Glenn Cook in the August 2020 edition of the American School Board Journal.

Questions abound. Do we have a plan to ensure that disadvantaged students have access to additional resources? Have we provided compensatory services for those who need them? If not, what is our plan to do so? Have we planned for students’ well-being in terms of safety, sense of community, and social and emotional wellness? What supports can our school

provide for our teachers to help them prepare lesson plans to keep students motivated and engaged to learn remotely?

And More Questions

Will our schoolchildren return to our brick and mortar school buildings? Are our schools opting for a blended approach? What will academics look like in socially distanced classrooms? What legal considerations must be addressed when we reopen our schools? Will we offer asynchronous or synchronous instruction? What are the benefits of each platform for our schoolchildren?

Allison Slater Tate’s article in the July 9 Today listed questions that parents are asking themselves: Should their children stay home or should they go back? What is the health of their personal household? What is best for the children from both medical and developmental standpoints? What about the possibility of quarantine? Can parents afford to not send their children to school?

Teachers, too, have questions. In a recent issue of the Education Week Teacher blog, Madeline Will summarized some questions teachers might ask: “If a teacher is exposed to COVID-19, will they have to use their sick days to self-quarantine?

How will we configure our classrooms? What will the schedules for teachers look like? What about schedules and options for students? How will we handle transportation? Will we utilize outdoor spaces to assist in social distancing when the weather permits?

It seems as board members and community leaders that we have many more questions than answers. How will we find the answers? How will we “hear” what the public is thinking? What is it they want? What ideas do they have to assist in providing an education for their children, their neighbors’ children, and all the children in the community? How can administrators and board members solicit their input so the parents, as well as the teachers, are prepared for the opening of school?

What extra responsibilities will teachers be given to ensure the safety and cleanliness of the classroom? What accommodations will be made for teachers who are high-risk?”

‘Together We Must’

For the sake of our children and our future, we can and must find the answers to these questions and share them with our staff, the parents of our schoolchildren, and our community. As NSBA President Charlie Wilson stated in a recent First Monday address to state school board association presidents, “Together we can. Together we must!” H | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 5 From the Top
Lee Lentz-Edwards Lee Lentz-Edwards, a Kermit ISD trustee, is 2019-20 president of TASB.
We need to ask a plethora of questions. As we do with every school issue, we must look at the data.

The Way Ahead

Districts Face Crucial Decisions as 2020-21 Year Opens

As school district leaders, teachers, staff members, parents, and students eye the coming 2020-21 school year with an abundance of caution, uncertainty, and skepticism amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, each district in Texas faces important decisions about safety, instructional options, protocols, and more.

Questions persisted through the summer about how attendance accounting would be done in the fall. Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced early on that remote instruction would be an option. In July, however, he said Texas public school districts had to reopen campuses to continue receiving state funding. Later in the month, the commissioner said that schools could choose to remain closed temporarily without the risk of losing state funds.

Initially, districts were informed that they may restrict the number of students who receive on-campus instruction for only the first three weeks of the school year, a period designed to “facilitate an effective back-to-school transition process,” according to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

However, as coronavirus cases continued to rise through July, Governor Greg Abbott indicated that the state would give districts more flexibility in keeping buildings closed for a longer period of time.

At press time, TEA had announced that school districts would be allowed to delay on-campus instruction for at least four weeks and request waivers to continue remote instruction for up to four additional weeks in areas hard hit by the pandemic. However, citing the Texas attorney general’s statement that “blanket school building closures ordered by local public health authorities for preventative

purposes are unlawful,” Morath noted, “To generate funding for remote instruction, school systems must also provide daily on-campus instruction for families that want to come on campus, with several critical exceptions.” So state funding for districts that choose remote-only instruction remains in question.

TASB Support

TASB is offering full support for districts as they deal with the many challenges of reopening for the school year. On the TASB Website, you’ll find a comprehensive list of resources and services at covid-19-resources/return-to-school.aspx.

Featured on this page are health and safety updates and tips, guidance on

remote instruction (including several TEA sources on instructional methods and attendance requirements), operational resources for administrators, and more.

Additionally, on page 34 of this edition of Texas Lone Star, you will find TEA guidelines for return to school, including a list of resources available to districts (such as district reimbursement for COVID-19-related expenses).

Unprecedented Challenges

These are uniquely difficult days, and many students, parents, teachers, and school district leaders are apprehensive about coming back together in person for the 2020-21 year—and rightly so. The challenges are unprecedented, and the way ahead is fraught with uncertainty. The pandemic has not gone away or even abated.

Stay tuned to TASB and TEA (tea. to stay apprised of the latest information on the pandemic and on state requirements for districts, as information may change if COVID-19 cases rise. Stay safe.H | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 7
Editor’s Footnote
Roger White is managing editor of Texas Lone Star
I'm not sure how feasible it is for Principal Skinner to have a Zoom meeting with every one of his students! Hmmm...

Sign of the Times

Boards Seeing Many Advantages, Opportunities by Going Paperless

8 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 |

Last March, as the world began to isolate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it became immediately apparent that essential services—like public schools— would need to find new ways to function. School boards in Texas began meeting online so there would be no pause in critical planning for their schools.

Many school boards were already using an online meeting preparation platform to prepare for and conduct meetings, making that transition simple and fast. But even while using such platforms, a surprising number of boards still relied on paper board packets, making the transition to virtual meetings less efficient—and in some ways hazardous.

Instead of simply pushing a button to deliver meeting materials, administrative staff had to coordinate the production of hard-copy packets or go into the office to do it themselves. Others, like printing staff and mail carriers, had to make risky trips into facilities to create or deliver packets.

The situation evoked an often heard but now particularly timely question: Why is it advantageous for school boards to go paperless?

Prepared for a Digital World

When the pandemic started to shut things down, the Nacogdoches ISD Board was prepared. “We didn’t miss a beat,” said Holly Anderson, administrative assistant to the superintendent and board. As TASB BoardBook® users for 15 years, the district was accustomed to digitally planning for meetings and functioning without paper.

Dana Devoll, executive assistant to the superintendent at Giddings ISD, had a similar experience.

“While working from home, my superintendent and I logged on to the meeting and talked through each item,” Devoll said. “I would type what he said, he’d refresh his page to see how it was looking or sounding, both of us could add documents from our files without him sending to me to add, we could copy and paste from various press releases, websites, etc., and an entire packet was completed in a very short time.”

Everything was done without a sheet of paper to contend with, much less stacks and stacks of paper to print, collate, tab, package, and deliver. Giddings ISD has been paperless for almost five years.

Devoll can’t imagine the “good old days” when paper packets were compiled. “I’m so glad that was all gone before I started!” she said.

Anderson agrees. “When I started this position [13 years ago], I was shown an entire closet full of two-, three-, and four-inch binders that had been used for printed packets, as you didn’t know how many pages it was going to be. I was told the entire morning after the board meeting was dedicated to shredding the thousands of pages of documents.” | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 9
“Preparing for and conducting board meetings with paper and without electronic devices, while requiring students and staff to use devices and digital content, is a significant disconnect.”

Holding on to Paper

Although other districts have also adapted well to paperless agenda packets, many still rely on paper. There are several reasons why.

Sometimes old habits are hard to break. “I don’t even know if the board had any reason to keep using paper except that it was what had always been done,” said Devoll. The district switched to a paperless approach when a new superintendent suggested the change to help cut costs. The board discovered they liked working on laptops much better than thumbing through large, bulky paper packets.

Sometimes it’s not just a habit, but a preference. According to Russell Roberts, implementation specialist for BoardBook, one reason for paper use is that some board members simply prefer it. They are used to having a paper packet and like to make notations on paper.

Another reason for holding on to paper is that some districts may not provide devices for board members—a situation that will likely change as increasingly everyone connected to schools is expected to operate in a digital environment.

“Preparing for and conducting board meetings with paper and without electronic devices, while requiring students and staff to use devices and digital content, is a significant disconnect,” Roberts said.

It’s understandable that those who are unfamiliar with technology will feel frustrated at first. Anderson said sometimes board members are uncomfortable using a computer or they worry about getting lost or confused during a meeting. She takes the time to work with members individually to show them how to read information and navigate comfortably.

As with most things, the first (and sometimes only) hurdle is getting used to something different.

Paperless Advantages

School districts make the decision to operate sans paper for a number of reasons. The main incentives are cost and time savings, ecological considerations, and increased efficiency. But other advantages often emerge after the change.

Cost savings. By far, the biggest reason to cut paper out of the board meeting process is that it cuts costs—not only costs of paper, ink, tabs, binders, envelopes/boxes, printing equipment/printing services, postage, storage, and disposal, but also costs associated with staff labor.

It’s difficult to estimate how much a district might save by going paperless; savings depend on size of the district, its processes, and other factors. But when considering paper alone, given that the average page count per packet is approximately 100 pages (often closer to 200 pages or more), the average board consists of seven members, and most boards meet at least once a month, you don’t have to get out a pencil to realize that’s a lot of paper.

The savings can add up quickly. An Oregon school district that began using BoardBook was able to save more than $20,000 annually in labor and supplies for its meetings.

10 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 |

“By cutting these costs, districts can apply more of their budgets to important projects, like educational programs, facility repairs, transportation, and school safety,” Roberts said.

Time savings. Board packets take days, sometimes even weeks, to compile. Using paper versions of the packet further extends the process. With a paper approach, compilers have to do the following:

• Scan and/or print all documents

• Order necessary supplies, like paper, ink, binders, tabs

• Make last-minute additions or corrections, requiring reassembly and repagination of documents

• Collate and assemble documents into packets

• Create mailing lists or labels

• Arrange for mail pickup or personal delivery (as sometimes is the case in rural districts)

As the adage goes, time is money. When weighing costs of paper versus a paperless agenda platform, laborintensive tasks like these must be viewed in terms of dollar amounts.

Environmental considerations. It goes without saying that paper is not an ecological choice. Even with recycling options, so much of the paper districts use still ends up in a landfill. If a district embraces initiatives to lessen the impact it has on the environment in other ways, such as reduced energy use, then going paperless should be part of that discussion.

Increased efficiency. Nacogdoches ISD’s Anderson said it’s all about efficiency. “When we switched to BoardBook, revisions could be made without having to renumber pages

with a number stamp and recopy the board packet,” she said. “Agenda contributors have a shared drive that they put their action sheets, attachments, and presentations in. I organize them into department folders and then drag and drop them into their agenda item.

“If I get a request to add or revise an item, I can do it quickly and send out a new agenda, which makes me look very efficient,” she added. “If I get a request to replace attachments or information, I can also do that easily—and it is very much appreciated by the contributing staff.”

Anderson noted that the e-mail notification feature is particularly helpful. As soon as the meeting is ready to review, she sends a link to members. The media and the public can sign up to receive notification that a new agenda has been posted. “They really like that feature, and I do not have to remember to send an e-mail to the media informing them of an upcoming meeting.”

Giddings ISD’s Devoll agrees that efficiency is the key to successful board meetings. She likes the simplicity of adding attachments or agenda items in BoardBook quickly and seamlessly without having to get a document entirely reprinted and repaginated. Time spent creating minutes has been drastically reduced, Devoll added, noting that she appreciates that no one has to deliver packets all over the county.

“Unless a document has to be signed by someone, I print virtually nothing relating to a board meeting,” Devoll said. “I’m able to do the other tasks this job requires in a normal workday instead of staying late, coming in early, taking work home, and still wondering how to complete everything prior to publishing the board packet.

“To anyone with an ounce of competitive nature about them, there’s something uniquely satisfying about starting and completing a project better and faster than you’ve done before.” | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 11
The savings can add up quickly. An Oregon school district that began using BoardBook was able to save more than $20,000 annually in labor and supplies for its meetings.

Advantages for Trustees

Clearly, compiler efficiencies—and the budget—improve when paper is nixed. But how else do board members benefit from a paperless meeting process?

For one thing, they don’t have to dig through a pile of papers to find documents during a meeting. “We made the switch to BoardBook® Premier earlier this year,” Anderson said, “and just recently we tried the follow-the-leader function. A board member told me, ‘I think this is what it would be like to drive a Tesla—I just sat back and watched it go!’”

Giddings ISD also recently upgraded, and Devoll says the board is now able to see each agenda item and attachment one piece at a time with just a click, easily toggling between the two. “All aspects of the action sheet can go directly into the body of the agenda item instead of a separate attachment,” she said, adding that note taking during the meeting is much simpler for board members now.

Additionally, with everything online, trustees don’t have to remember to take their packets to meetings. “Situations arise when trustees believe they will have time to go home between their workday and the meeting, but due to events beyond their control, they may be unable to do so,” said Devoll. “If they didn’t bring the packet with them at the beginning of the day, they will be ill-prepared for the meeting and/or have staff scrambling to get another packet printed. The fact that they can simply sit at their laptop when the meeting starts and have everything at their fingertips alleviates these possible problems.”

Before the meeting begins, board members can receive and peruse the agenda packet more easily without paper. Materials are on their laptops, and they can receive packets quickly with no worry about whether the packet is at the front doorstep getting soaked in the rain.

Other advantages for board members include:

• Increased security

• Simplified searches, cross-references, and links

• Increased speed

• Better collaboration through shared documents

Of course, situations arise where printing may be necessary. Most online agenda platforms provide that option when hard copies are needed for archives, public review, or board members who are not quite ready to make the switch. Roberts noted that BoardBook Premier can produce printable PDF files that can be paginated.

Leading in a Digital World

School boards have a unique opportunity to serve as role models for students, district staff, and the community in a world that functions online. They can set the standard for efficient operations in the digital realm, just as they expect staff and students to do. And they can lead through uncertainties and challenges with quicker responses aided by digital technology.

Emergency situations like hurricanes and flooding, and now a global pandemic, have required Texas school boards to act quickly, which is complicated when paper is required. To prove themselves as the leaders they are, school boards must entrench themselves in a whole new world—a world without paper.H

12 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 |
School boards have a unique opportunity to serve as role models for students, district staff, and the community in a world that functions online.
Melissa Locke Roberts is assistant editor of Texas Lone Star.

Top 10 Considerations for Going Paperless

1. Save money. Instead of spending on paper, binders, postage, printing and mailing services, and the labor involved to create printed packets, district funds may be used for important projects, such as educational programs, facility repairs, transportation, and school safety.

2. Save time. Increase administrative staff’s productivity (no more extra hours ordering supplies, printing, collating, replacing corrected pages, inserting tabs, preparing mailings, etc.). Give yourself back some time (no more digging through paper to find a page or note).

3. Save the planet. Extend your district’s environmental responsibilities by cutting down on the use of paper, which either ends up in a landfill or requires recycling.

4. Be more efficient. Receive packets with the click of a button. Easily search, make notes, and link to other documents online. Make meetings smoother with quick access to the items being discussed. Significantly enhance administrative support efficiency by eliminating tasks associated with creating paper packets.

5. Increase collaboration. Shared documents make it easier for board members to share and discuss items.

6. Increase security. Paper can’t be locked behind a password. If it’s sitting on a desk or in your car, it can be read or stolen.

7. Protect staff. In emergency situations involving the weather or public health, eliminate the need for staff members to get out to print, package, and deliver materials.

8. Lighten your load. No need to lug around bulky packets or remember to take them to meetings.

9. Save space. Most district offices have limited space, and paper requires real estate for storage.

10. Set a good example. Students and teachers are expected to use mobile devices and digital content. School boards command more respect and display a greater sense of understanding when they do the same. | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 13

Editor’s note: This is Part One of a twopart series chronicling the Seguin ISD leadership team’s three-year journey to exceptional governance, written by TASB Board Development Consultant Orin Moore. Part Two will appear in the September/October 2020 edition.

The Journey to Excellence

Seguin ISD Leadership Team Put in the Work To Learn and Model Exceptional Governance

As my conversation with Seguin ISD Superintendent Matthew Gutierrez came to an end, something he said put a grin on my face. We had been discussing an upcoming teambuilding workshop, and he began praising his board. I listened intently as he compared the district’s current superintendent evaluation to its past versions. The current evaluation he described sounded appreciably more challenging—even riskier—than the evaluations of the past, and this pleased him and the board.

School districts are complex organizations. Aside from being smart people who work hard and embrace the responsibility of loving and educating our future citizens, what would make educators excited about raising the stakes in such a complex system? What kind of board can increasingly raise the stakes for itself and the entire system and be met with confidence instead of concern? The answers to both questions can be found in a review of Seguin ISD’s journey over the last three years.

Who Leads the Leaders?

A superintendent candidate with a draft five-year plan, a selfdescribed “lunatic” board president, and six trustees walk into the boardroom for a superintendent interview…

This sounds like the beginning of a bad school board joke, but it’s not. It’s a true story. To clarify, Seguin ISD Board President Cinde Thomas-Jimenez entertainingly chose the term “lunatic” to describe her susceptibility to sleeplessness when the moon is full or new.

14 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 |

Since fall 2017, I have spent upwards of 30 hours in workshops, conference calls, and presentations with Thomas-Jimenez. She listens more than she talks. I noticed her propensity to really listen early in our professional relationship, and this observation has held solid over the years. My curiosity about her leadership philosophy eventually won over and drove me to ask her about the experiences that shaped her leadership beliefs. Her response connected all the dots for me.

“I was raised in a family of eight, which means I learned early to share and compromise,” Thomas-Jimenez said. “There was no room for selfishness, power plays, or self-pity. As a result, I’ve always felt that it is better to listen and engage in conversation rather than using a bully pulpit.”

Superintendent Gutierrez has a similar story—that is, a story of learning and practicing leadership values long before ever holding a leadership position or title.

Many of us played school when we were younger, but Gutierrez really played school. When speaking of his lifelong dream to pursue a career in education, he recounted his childhood days playing school with his two younger brothers and cousins during summer breaks. Gutierrez gave his siblings and cousins homework assignments. Then he did the unthinkable in the minds of children on summer break. He graded the assignments. His strict rule of work before play meant his “students” were expressly prohibited from playing with any toys or sports equipment until

their assignments had been completed, graded, and corrected.

Occasionally, all the kids were gathered and made to pose for class photos. I laughed out loud when Gutierrez showed me an old photo from those days. Imagine an adolescent Gutierrez standing shoulder to shoulder with his students, dressed in summer shorts and t-shirts. He really played school. It’s safe to say that Gutierrez’s younger brothers and cousins experienced very little in the way of summer learning loss as kids.

Like Thomas-Jimenez, Gutierrez is also a great listener. His ability to listen is one of the characteristics that made his entry into Seguin ISD a successful one. Thomas-Jimenez remembers what it was like hiring Gutierrez following some low points in the district:

“When Dr. Gutierrez was hired as superintendent in 2017, he was asked to engage with the community. He formed several committees that were made up of community members, including a stakeholders committee. What was interesting and different was that these community members were actually listened to. It wasn’t just a meeting to say we had a meeting and then check off the box.”

The relationship between a superintendent and board president forms a critical first layer of leadership. Show me a board with a solid president, and I will show you a board that is likely making the most of its current situation, whether it be a season of triumph or a season of conflict.

Participating in a TASB XG Governance Development session are, from left, Seguin ISD Trustee Alejandro Guerra, TASB Consultant Orin Moore (in background), Seguin ISD Deputy Chief Operations Officer Kirsten Legore, Seguin ISD Chief Financial Officer Tony Hillberg, and Seguin ISD Trustee Denise Crettenden. | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 15
Photo by David Koempel

Superintendents and board presidents are leaders of leaders. For them, listening is not just a good thing to do—it’s a lifeline for the district. If a superintendent and board president want to understand the challenges and opportunities in their district or on their board, then they must listen. Listen for lack of understanding. Listen for exhaustion. Listen for contentment. Listen for dissatisfaction. Listen for motive. Listen for joy, wounds, optimism, and discouragement. By listening, the leader of leaders equips herself with priceless information regarding the collective health of her team and the individual health of her teammates.

Who leads the leaders? After numerous discussions with superintendents and observing 30 to 50 boards a year, I feel an obligation to stress how important it is for boards to ponder this question. The board must act as a body corporate, but that body still needs a head. It’s simply a matter of function. A head collects and organizes the many inputs from the body. The head streamlines communication and makes it efficient. The head invites her co-leaders to speak up when they have been silent too long. The head is the first line of defense for guarding the values and standards of order agreed upon by the body corporate.

At the end of the day, the head is critical, but it cannot operate apart from the body corporate. At the end of the day, the board president is a member of that body corporate, and the body corporate is responsible for overseeing a vision developed collaboratively by its community. Overseeing that vision requires a relentless commitment to learning.

Learning that Supports a Vision

The Seguin ISD Board viewed the 2017-18 school year as a fresh start and an opportunity to heal following some wounds to the community. Unfortunately, too many of us in the school business know that feeling. The team and its community envisioned thriving students and a stronger, more unified community. The team also understood that a commitment to learning was a cornerstone for propping up this vision and took the lead in walking out this commitment.

In September 2017, Seguin ISD contacted TASB to take advantage of a complimentary transition workshop that came with using TASB’s Executive Search Services to hire Gutierrez. Stepping into the boardroom for the transition workshop that September evening was akin to stepping into a fast-moving, determined vehicle. Everyone in the vehicle knew the destination, and I had to get up to speed. Placed at every trustee’s seat, on top of the board packet, was a copy of author Jim Collins’ acclaimed management book Good to Great. Nancy Ramirez, secretary to the superintendent, informed me that the board and superintendent had already begun a book study and were committed to developing as a whole team.

During the transition workshop that evening, the expectation for leaders to be learners was reiterated as board members and the superintendent discussed mutual expectations for members of the leadership team. Looking back at notes collected from the team that night, three expectations from the board especially describe the heart of this team over the last three years:

• “Help us create a strong team that can pull this district up.”

• “Delegate well and bring the whole team along.”

• “Based on your experience, please give the board suggestions on how it can help.”

Take a moment to analyze these statements. In my opinion, these statements suggest a leadership approach that first looks inward for change and progress. These statements also suggest a level of vulnerability and openness to learning.

The Seguin ISD Board, like many boards, contains several educators with an impressive list of accomplishments. Any one of those professionals could have spoken from a position of “expertise,” but no one did. They simply came to the dais seeking pathways to a stronger team.

What was the outcome of open minds at the dais that night? What kind of culture was created from seeds planted

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The team understood that a commitment to learning was a cornerstone for propping up this vision and took the lead in walking out this commitment.

that night? Three years later, Trustee Denise Crettenden has this to say about her board: “We attend as many events and meetings as we can to understand the district. I always hear fellow board members say, ‘Let me know what I can do’ or ask, ‘How can I help?’ They also sign up for training after training to know more so they can help more.”

During that transition workshop, I learned about new professional development initiatives coming to the district. It was even more exciting to hear how well teachers and employees were responding. However, the board’s commitment to learning is what really stuck with me that night.

Actually, the board’s commitment to learning stuck with me long after that night. As mentioned earlier, I had the privilege of spending upwards of 30 hours planning and working with Thomas-Jimenez—and not just her, but the entire Seguin ISD Board. Seguin ISD’s culture of learning and professional development resulted in numerous board development opportunities, and TASB was blessed to be a part of some of those.

The Seguin ISD leadership team understood the significance of leading by example when promoting a culture of learning and professional development in support of the district’s vision for thriving students and a more united community. For Seguin, this meant growing current board members and future board members. How else do you build an all-star leadership team that survives turnover?

To develop future board members, Seguin ISD hosted a board candidate workshop and invited the community to come learn what boards do and how they work. I had the privilege of visiting the district again to facilitate the board candidate workshop one year after facilitating their transition workshop. Four attendees from that candidate workshop are now on the board.

Many districts host board candidate workshops or information sessions for board candidates. If your district does not, I would encourage you to evaluate the benefit to your community. Some districts have elaborate development opportunities for board candidates. You are doing a tremendous service to your community and your schools by investing in future board members.

Importantly, the Seguin ISD leadership team demonstrates several best practices according to governance research:

• They hold—and model—high expectations for learning.

• They participate in whole-team professional development.

• They engage stakeholders in meaningful ways.

There are two more best practices that the Seguin ISD team does well:

• They make connections across the system for continuous improvement.

• They hold the system, including the board and superintendent, accountable.H

Part Two of this series, which will appear in the September/ October edition of Texas Lone Star, is dedicated to Seguin ISD’s identified best practices and the outcomes the district experienced because of doing those practices well.

Orin Moore is a TASB Board Development consultant. | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 17

Laying The Right Foundation

How One School District Turned Its Pre-K Campus into an Early Childhood Center

Upon becoming superintendent of Marshall ISD in 2016, I learned that over half of the 11 campuses in the district did not meet academic standard for the previous school year. There was a great relief in knowing that the school board had made a commitment to invest in prekindergarten (Pre-K) and ultimately an early childhood center, which would do much more than simply provide morning and afternoon sessions for 3- and 4-year-old students. That made my vision of building a proper foundation for learning that would eventually be beneficial as our students made their way through Pre-K on to elementary, junior high, and high school much easier to implement.

My passion for early childhood education was a result of two major experiences during the previous three school years. First, I had two grandsons who have a six-month age difference and whose vocabulary levels were vastly different. One was enrolled at an early childhood center in the school district where his mother worked, and the other was able to stay at home with his mother. There was also a noticeable difference in their social skills at an early age, as well.

18 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 |

The second event was the result of a conversation that I had with a woman in my cohort as we worked on our doctorate degrees. I arrived after class had already started one evening and as I walked into the class, I took the only available chair. The professor gave the class a break about halfway through the evening, and during the break the woman said to me: “You are a superintendent, right?”

As soon as I confirmed that I was a superintendent in a small district, she asked if we had Pre-K. I acknowledged that we did, and she immediately asked me what our students were doing in their Pre-K classrooms.

At that time, I had been a superintendent for about six months, and I was still learning where everything was located and who did what. I had to admit to my classmate that I was not sure. Her response was that I needed to come to her campus and see what her students were doing.

This conversation and questioning continued throughout the semester and to better answer her questions, I learned what our Pre-K classes were doing. Her comments were consistent in urging me to see what they were doing on her campus, as she believed providing Pre-K students with three crucial core components would greatly excel their understanding and learning. The first was providing an environment conducive to fun yet rigorous hands-on literacy material; second, committing to train teachers appropriately with the material; and third, understanding the purpose of building a community via care and logical consequences.

I eventually ventured to Aldine ISD to see the district’s Kindergarten Round-up on a campus that had 750 Pre-K students. What I experienced that day began to change the way I looked at early childhood and helped to formulate many of the philosophies that I have today. I watched approximately six elementary school assistant principals collect the cumulative folders of students who were zoned to their campus and then argue over some of the students where the boundary lines were unclear.

I was not sure why the receiving campus administrators were so aggressive in their desire to have these students until we viewed the instruction in two different rooms. Five-year-old students were giving clear direction to the other students in their centers, and everyone moved from station to station with no question. Five-year-old students were building words, reading, adding two-digit numbers, and even writing sentences. All students engaged in their choice of materials, and there were no classroom management issues. Each student was eager and hungry to learn. | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 19

When the administrators returned to their campuses with their folders, I stayed and observed more classes and asked question after question. Michelle Burke, my doctorate-candidate classmate who invited me to her district—and the assistant principal of one of the district’s Pre-K centers— answered all of my questions and explained that curricula had been written exclusively for each campus, culled from best practices from Montessori education as well as traditional research-based strategies in classroom settings. Burke created her campus’s curriculum the summer before the school opened. Though the curriculum was used predominantly for Title 1 students, I observed Pre-K students doing more than I had ever seen them do in my education career.

As a result of that observation, I brought Burke’s curriculum, titled Learning by Doing, to our district—and not long after its implementation, we began to see phenomenal growth in our students. At that time, the vision that I was developing for an early childhood center was limited because of the limitations of campus layout. However, I began researching school districts that had stand-alone early childhood campuses and observed best practices and other successful early childhood centers.

Choosing the Right Curriculum

In 2009, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) provided the nation with an in-depth look at developmental practices in early childhood programs. In this article, the association stated the following:

“Curriculum always yields outcomes of some kind—but which outcomes those are and how a program achieves them are critical. In developmentally appropriate practice, the curriculum helps young children achieve goals that are developmentally and educationally significant. The curriculum does this through learning experiences (including play, small group, large group, interest centers, and routines) that reflect what is known about young children in general and about these children in particular, as well as about the sequences in which children acquire specific concepts, skills, and abilities, building on prior experiences.”

The Learning by Doing program provides teachers with the training needed to understand concepts, create intentional lessons, and present lessons in a meaningful manner that involves students’ interest while systematically presenting lessons that are integrated with literacy concepts.

This intentional and methodical framework allows young students to engage and master literacy concepts in a simple to complex manner. There is a repetition of how lessons are presented, yet new literacy concepts are introduced so that students are able to master concepts at their own pace. Students are exposed to three letter sounds a day for 10 days.

20 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 |
In 2018-19, Marshall ISD’s third year under the Learning by Doing curriculum, the district saw an increase of 21 points in Pre-K students’ benchmark test scores in vocabulary from early in the year to the end of the year. Photo courtesy of Marshall ISD

Each day brings a new literacy concept and indirect integration of other content areas, such as mathematics. Moreover, students are able to classify sounds, match upper/lowercase (large/small), and identify similar and different characters of letters. Such concepts include letter recognition and letter sounds, then begins the process of reading and writing. This yearlong experience breaks down the process by allowing students of very young ages to focus on a particular aspect or concept. This is what Maria Montessori would call “isolating the quality,” which are lessons that emphasize the particular concept to be learned. The Learning by Doing program does this exactly but also provides a personalized approach for each student according to his or her learning progression. As noted in NAEYC’s position statement, “children learn more in programs where there is a well-planned and implemented

curriculum; it is important for every school and early childhood program to have its curriculum in written form.”

Learning by Doing Findings

Research brought about the following themes based on analysis of program participant responses:

1. Teachers who participated in the Learning by Doing program felt that the repetition of the program was beneficial for students learning letter knowledge and letter sounds.

2. Teachers who participated felt the program assisted in creating readers in the classroom.

3. Participating teachers felt that the program assisted in creating writers in the classroom.

4. Teachers also felt that the students using the program became independent learners.

5. Finally, teachers felt that the organization of the program, which included trainings, materials, and continued support, assisted them to be more successful in the classroom.

Additionally, 2016-17 academic results from the Marshall ISD Washington Early Childhood Center indicated that 34 percent of the center’s Pre-K students were reading, 95 percent grew in number and letter recognition, and 96 percent grew in their knowledge of letter sounds.

Little Mav Academy

A major concern for many districts is the rising rate of teen pregnancies. Many times, the result of a teen pregnancy is that a student drops out to take care of a child. To face that challenge, the thinking of many school districts is to have a daycare facility and program for the students who are parents. That thought, along with the opportunity to offer employees an incentive to work in our district, led to the opening of Marshall ISD’s Little Mav Academy.

The plan was to offer childcare free of charge to district students who are caring for a child. The strategy was to eliminate absences caused by unreliable, inconsistent, and often expensive childcare. The school district makes application through the state for child-care services, and tuition is reimbursed to the district.

The school district also offers child care at a discounted rate to district employees. The goal was to be the most inexpensive daycare in the community, offering an incentive to potential employees. Many of the school district’s hourly employees also qualify for partial reimbursement from the state’s child care services. | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 21
“In developmentally appropriate practice, the curriculum helps young children achieve goals that are developmentally and educationally significant.”

With the long-range plan to move the current early childhood center to a different campus to offer more room, thereby educating more children, we opened Little Mav Academy on the future sight of the district’s Early Childhood Center. Prior to consolidating campuses in 2017-18, Marshall ISD owned and operated a school that sits in the heart of the city. The consolidation left the former South Marshall Elementary campus vacant for one school year.

Following the vision that early childhood is the heart of the district and lays an educational foundation, it made sense to locate what would soon become the Marshall Early Childhood Center on the much larger, vacant campus. The campus has a wing that is separate from the main facility; this wing met all state daycare requirements and thus became the home of Little Mav Academy.

Marshall ISD hired an experienced daycare worker and former owner to be director of the day school. Not only was she a previous owner of a daycare, but she was also a certified teacher who had teaching experience.

Children still attending the day school when they turn 4 years old are taught the Learning by Doing curriculum. The district will pilot a two-way dual-language program at Little Mav Academy for children ages 2-4.

Full-Day Pre-K

The next phase of our Early Childhood Center was to begin full-day Pre-K. The repurposing of the South Marshall Elementary campus created space for additional classrooms, allowing for increased enrollment. A huge challenge for our maintenance and technology staff was to convert a 100year-old building from its former use as a K-4 elementary school to a facility designed for preschool children. However, the added space was crucial to the district’s decision to implement full-day Pre-K.

The combination of offering Pre-K for a full day and moving to a new location allowed us to accommodate an additional 60 students. Offering full-day classes allowed the campus to add an additional 720 hours of instruction. Having more students on campus with additional instructional time will increase the level of foundation that each student will have upon entering kindergarten.

The 2018-19 school year, the third under the Learning by Doing program, saw tremendous gains. Many of our Pre-K students have tested and been accepted into our K-5 STEM Academy immediately out of early childhood.

Data from the year’s benchmarks also show a tremendous increase in learning and overall reading skills in our Pre-K students. Students tested early in the year in rapid vocabulary at 59 percent in the first benchmark but at 80 percent in the third and final benchmark of the year—an increase of 21 points.

In syllabication (the process of forming or dividing words into syllables), students tested at 22 percent at the beginning of the year but improved to 72 percent after a year in the curriculum. In shape-naming ability, students began the year at 45 percent but improved to 82 percent by the end of the year. By any standard of measurement, that is an impressive school year in terms of student achievement and learning at our early childhood campus.

It’s important to remember that these impressive gains were achieved in a half-day format. It is exciting to think of the strength of the educational foundation that is possible for our Pre-K students learning in a full-day format.

Dual-Language Programs

The final phase of our Early Childhood Center will be teaching English to our 2- and 3-year-olds who do not speak English at home. A two-way dual-language program will be introduced to Little Mav Academy students ages 2-4. The program will be used with Marshall Early Childhood students and will be piloted at one of our elementary schools in year two.

Currently, Marshall ISD struggles to find certified bilingual teachers. Conversely, it is not as problematic to find certified English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR) instructors. This challenge has been highlighted over the last several years as our Hispanic population has been growing—now the largest population group in our district. An effective two-way dual-language program will provide:

• A minimum of six years of bilingual instruction

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• A focus on the core academic curriculum rather than a “watereddown” version

• High-quality language arts instruction in both languages, integrated into thematic units

• Separation of the two languages for instruction (no translation and no repeated lessons in the other language)

• Use of the non-English language for at least 50 percent of the instructional time and as much as 90 percent in the early grades

• An additive bilingual environment that has full support of school administrators, teachers, and parents

• Promotion of positive interdependences among peers and between teachers and students

• High-quality instructional personnel, proficient in the language of instruction

This approach allows English learners to help native Spanish speakers learn through a second language, while native Spanish speakers help English learners acquire the curriculum through Spanish. Two-way immersion programs are called additive bilingual programs for both groups of students. They give all students the opportunity to maintain and develop oral and written skills in their first language while they simultaneously acquire oral and written skills in a second language.

It is our belief that teaching our students to be bilingual will create a better opportunity for success upon graduation. We also firmly believe a stronger bilingual education will help our community at large, particularly our Hispanic community. This belief highlights the importance of providing a strong foundation for English learning in our school district and, particularly, at the Pre-K level.

More than Pre-K

For Marshall ISD to begin to reach its full potential, we needed to have more than just a Pre-K campus. Our students needed to be entering kindergarten knowing more than their numbers, letters, shapes, and colors. Our students needed to have a stronger foundation to prepare them for the rigors of elementary school and beyond.

This idea of providing a strong educational foundation through development of what is more than just a Pre-K campus at Marshall Early Childhood Center will ultimately be the formula that leads us to academic success for all students at all levels of our school district.H

Jerry Gibson, EdD, is superintendent of Marshall ISD. Michelle Burke, EdD, is a consultant for Marshall ISD. | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 23
According to Marshall ISD Superintendent Jerry Gibson, providing a strong educational foundation through development of the Marshall Early Childhood Center will provide the formula for academic success. Photo courtesy of Marshall ISD

Sexual Harassment: An Update

New Title IX Rules Change Notice, Policy Requirements

Q:What is Title IX?

A: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 states: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.1

Although Title IX is not a lengthy statute, its scope is very broad. Notably, the law protects any person—not just students or employees. In addition, Title IX is not just for public schools. Any entity providing an education program or activity, whether public or private, must comply with the law’s requirements as a condition of receiving federal funds.

Q: How does Title IX apply to sexual harassment?

A: Until recently, neither Title IX nor its implementing regulations specifically addressed sexual harassment. A pair of US Supreme Court cases from the 1990s established when a school district may be liable in court for sexual harassment under Title IX.

In the first case, Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District, a female high school student had a sexual relationship with a male teacher. The relationship was not reported to the school until after it had ended, at which point the teacher was arrested and terminated. The student sued the district, arguing that the district should have known about its employee’s misconduct and done something to stop it. The court decided that a district may

be liable for monetary damages under Title IX when an employee with authority to take corrective action has actual notice of sexual harassment within a district program or activity but responds with deliberate indifference. 2

Not long after Gebser, the court heard the case of a female fifth-grader from Georgia who alleged that she was sexually harassed by a male classmate. In Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, the court affirmed the actual notice and deliberate indifference elements from Gebser and added that when a student is sexually harassed by another student, the district can only be liable when the harassment is “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive.” 3 In other words, mere teasing or name-calling, by itself, would not rise to the level of sexual harassment under Title IX, even if it is based on a student’s sex.4

To this day, Gebser and Davis describe when a school district or college may be held liable for violating Title IX in court and, therefore, subject to monetary damages, injunctions, or other legal remedies.

Q: What is the Office for Civil Rights?

A: The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces

federal laws that prohibit discrimination in education, including Title IX.5 A person who believes he or she has been discriminated against may file a complaint with OCR, initiating an investigation. Alternatively, OCR may initiate its own investigation or compliance review. In addition, OCR issues written policy guidance to assist districts and other recipients of federal funds in compliance with the laws that it enforces.

Historically, OCR’s policy guidance established a higher standard for its administrative enforcement than the Gebser/ Davis standard for liability in private litigation.6 For example, in October 2010, OCR issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” (DCL) explaining that when a student is bullied because of a protected characteristic, including race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or sex, the conduct constitutes harassment.7

In the DCL, OCR advised that a district is “responsible for addressing harassment incidents about which it knows or reasonably should have known.”8

24 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 | Legal News
Any entity providing an education program or activity, whether public or private, must comply with the law’s requirements as a condition of receiving federal funds.

If the district concludes that harassment occurred, the DCL advised that a district “must take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the harassment, eliminate any hostile environment and its effects, and prevent the harassment from recurring.”9

Under President Barack Obama, OCR issued multiple letters regarding Title IX, inspiring a vigorous debate about how to address sexual violence and harassment of victims while protecting the due process and First Amendment rights of the accused. Critics also accused the Obama Administration of “ruling by letter” rather than formal rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act. After the election of Donald Trump in 2016, Betsy DeVos, the new US Secretary of Education, promised a new approach.

Q: What are the new Title IX regulations?

A: On November 16, 2018, OCR proposed new rules to amend Title IX regulations.10 The proposed rules were designed to address sexual harassment and to address due process concerns raised by advocates for accused students in higher education. Nonetheless, in most respects the proposal treated K-12 schools and colleges identically. OCR received almost 125,000 comments from the public regarding the proposed rules.11 | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 25 TASB’s Member Center is the best way to access Policy On Line®, BoardBook®, and everything else you need to succeed. l Report and view continuing education credit l Read exclusive articles and how-to’s
View a calendar of upcoming events and actions you need to take TRUSTEES! Your search ends here. TASB Member Center • Coming soon to district staff!

On May 6, 2020, OCR released its long-awaited final regulations.12 The new rules define sexual harassment as conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:

1. An employee conditioning an aid, benefit, or service of the district on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct (i.e., quid pro quo sexual harassment);

2. Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the district’s education program or activity; or

3. Sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking, as these terms are defined in the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).13

The rules require a district to respond promptly to actual knowledge of sexual harassment in an education program or activity of the district in a manner that is not deliberately indifferent.14

In many respects, the rules adopt the Gebser/Davis standards. However, unlike the Gebser case, which required a district official with a certain level of authority to have actual knowledge of the harassment, the new Title IX rules provide that notice of potential sexual harassment by any employee of a K-12 school district is enough to trigger the district’s duty to respond.15

Q: What policy changes can we expect to see based on the new Title IX rules?

A: In Update 115, TASB Policy Service issued changes to model policies to assist districts in complying with the new rules. Both the student nondiscrimination policies at FFH and the employee nondiscrimination policies at DIA were affected, as the new Title IX procedures for responding to sexual harassment apply to allegations by employees as well as students.

the new regulations, as included in FFH(LEGAL).

• To determine responsibility in a Title IX formal complaint of sexual harassment, the policies designate that the district will use a preponderance of the evidence standard. The rules require districts to use the same standard of evidence for

Changes to the policies include the following:

• The policies’ definition of prohibited conduct was revised to include conduct that meets the Title IX definition of sexual harassment, but the policies retain the broader definitions of prohibited conduct in districts’ current policies to ensure that all prohibited conduct is addressed.

• A new provision requires any employee who receives a report of prohibited conduct based on sex to notify the Title IX coordinator.

• New provisions direct the superintendent to develop a Title IX formal complaint process that must comply with the elements in

investigation of all formal Title IX sexual harassment complaints, including complaints by students and employees.16

• Provisions on retaliation and records retention have been updated to reflect the new rules’ requirements.

The new Title IX rules impose significant challenges for K-12 school districts. Most Texas school districts do not employ a full-time Title IX coordinator. Keeping up with the new rules’ extensive training, recordkeeping, and documentation requirements will require additional staff time.

Harmonizing the Title IX formal complaint procedures with districts’ existing policies and student codes of

New features. New look. Same compliance.

26 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 |
The new Title IX rules impose significant challenges for K-12 school districts. Keeping up with the new rules’ extensive training, recordkeeping, and documentation requirements will require additional staff time.

conduct will also be difficult. In addition, the rules raise some legal questions to which there are no satisfying answers. For example, although the Trump Administration has rescinded much of OCR’s past Title IX guidance, the 2010 bullying DCL is still in effect, implying that OCR will continue to rely on its previous standards for complaints alleging harassment based on protected characteristics other than sex. Given this complexity, school district officials should follow their school attorneys’ advice closely when allegations of harassment arise.

Q: When do the new Title IX rules go into effect?

A: The effective date of the new rules is August 14, 2020.

Q: What should we do now?

A: In order to ensure compliance with Title IX, districts should be focusing on training employees and updating policies. Every employee in the district should be trained to recognize potential sexual harassment. Title IX coordinators and other employees who may be involved in the formal complaint process (investigators and decision-makers) must also be trained on the definition of sexual harassment and other specific topics.17

The new rules also changed the notice and policy requirements under existing Title IX regulations.18 Look for updates to TASB policies and model handbooks to ensure compliance.

While the new Title IX regulations adopt the Gebser/Davis requirement that

schools respond to sexual harassment with “non-deliberate indifference,” this has always been a floor, not a ceiling. School districts can do more to protect students from harassment. In fact, state bullying laws and local policies may require a response to conduct that does not rise to the level of sexual harassment under Title IX.

Contact TASB Legal Services at 800.580.5345 or or your local school district attorney for more information about Title IX.H

This article is provided for educational purposes only and contains information to facilitate a general understanding of the law. It is not an exhaustive treatment of the law on this subject nor is it intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. Consult with your own attorneys to apply these legal principles to specific fact situations.

120 U.S.C. § 1681.

2Gebser v. Lago Vista Indep. Sch. Dist., 524 U.S. 274 (1998); see also Franklin v. Gwinnett Cnty. Pub. Sch., 503 U.S. 60 (1992) (recognizing potential under Title IX for a school district to be liable for monetary damages based on a teacher’s sexual harassment of a student).

3Davis v. Monroe County Bd. of Educ., 526 U.S. 629, 633 (1999).

4See Davis, 526 U.S. at 652 (stating it is not enough to show that a student has been teased or called offensive names); see also Sanches v. Carrollton-Farmers Branch Indep. Sch. Dist., 647 F.3d 156, 165-67 (5th Cir. 2011) (holding derogatory gossip and name-calling were insufficient for Title IX claim, even if based on sex).

5U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Office for Civil Rights, About OCR,

6See, e.g., U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Office for Civil Rights, Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties (Jan. 19, 2001) at 2 offices/list/ocr/docs/shguide.html (emphasizing the distinction between administrative enforcement and

liability for monetary damages in private litigation).

7U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Office for Civil Rights, Dear Colleague Letter (Oct. 26, 2010), list/ocr/letters/colleague-201010.html

8U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Office for Civil Rights, Dear Colleague Letter (Oct. 26, 2010), at 2 (emphasis added),

9U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Office for Civil Rights, Dear Colleague Letter (Oct. 26, 2010), at 2-3, offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201010.html

10US Dep’t of Educ., Secretary DeVos: Proposed Title IX Rule Provides Clarity for Schools, Support for Survivors, and Due Process Rights for All (Nov. 16, 2018).

11Both TASB and the National School Boards Association pointed out in their comments that K-12 schools are governed by a different set of laws and educational needs. Sarah Orman, Senior Attorney, TASB Legal Services, Letter to Kenneth Marcus, Asst. Sec’ty of Educ., Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Dept. of Educ. (Jan. 30, 2019); Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director & CEO, Nat’l Sch. Bds. Assoc., NSBA Comments on Department of Education Proposed Rule (Jan. 30, 2019).

12U.S. Dep’t of Educ., OCR, Title IX Regulations Addressing Sexual Harassment (Unofficial Copy), (May 6, 2020),

1334 C.F.R. § 106.30(a).

1434 C.F.R. § 106.44(a).

1534 C.F.R. § 106.30(a).

16See 34 C.F.R. § 106.45(b) (requiring a grievance process to state whether the standard of evidence to be used to determine responsibility is the preponderance of the evidence standard or the clear and convincing evidence standard).

1734 C.F.R. § 106.45(b).

1834 C.F.R. § 106.8. | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 27 Get ready for the new BuyBoard— a cooperative purchasing site as smart and hard-working as you are.
Sarah Orman is a TASB Legal Services senior attorney.

Setting the Course

School Trustees Help Craft TASB’s Statewide Priorities

Approximately 75 school trustees who were elected to the TASB Legislative Advisory Council (LAC) during their regional Grassroots Meetings joined TASB Governmental Relations staff in a virtual meeting June 19 to continue developing TASB’s Advocacy Agenda Priorities.

School finance, state assessments, and vouchers continue to be top priorities for school trustees who participated in the Grassroots Meetings and LAC, but more recent issues such as student mental health services, censorship of school board advocacy, pandemic response, and cultural awareness/diversity made their way into the LAC’s recommended priorities. Trustees also included statements on

charter school expansion/transparency and staff recruitment/retention.

Moving Forward

As school districts adjusted to the nationwide shutdown that followed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, TASB also had to consider how to keep the Advocacy Agenda process moving forward. After the cancellation of the first LAC meeting in April, TASB Governmental Relations staff distributed to the LAC the regional priorities gathered during Grassroots Meetings held earlier this year.

LAC members had an opportunity to review all regional priorities and a list of the top issues identified by all or a majority of regions and were encouraged

to share their suggestions and concerns about education issues and the identified priorities with TASB.

Staff then drafted priority statements based on the identified priority issues and input received from LAC members. During the June 19 meeting, LAC members commented on the draft statements, recommended changes, and adopted a list for recommendation to the TASB Board of Directors.

Following review and approval of priorities by the TASB Board during its July meeting, the TASB Delegate Assembly will have an opportunity to review, amend, and adopt the statements that will become TASB’s 2020-22 Advocacy Agenda Priorities.

New LAC Members

The LAC also elected four members who will sit on the TASB Legislative Committee to ensure that the LAC’s voice is conveyed throughout the process. The four LAC representatives to the TASB Board are Trish Bode of Leander ISD, Donald Davis of Spring ISD, Tracy Fisher of Coppell ISD, and Kristi Hassett of Lewisville ISD.

The LAC consists of 110 trustees, with each region allotted a certain number of members based on student population.H

Dax Gonzalez is division director of TASB Governmental Relations.

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

• Denver City ISD.


Application deadline: August 26.

For more information about vacancies or services provided by TASB’s Executive Search Services, call 800.580.8272, e-mail, or visit

28 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 | Capital Watch

Member Districts Submit 108 Resolutions to TASB

Twenty-nine school districts submitted 108 resolutions during TASB’s annual call for resolutions this year. The resolutions address issues ranging from specific funding needs, such as school security and Teacher Retirement System health plans, to broad flexibilities, such as how to count student attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposed resolutions were presented to the TASB Board of Directors during its July meeting; the board will make recommendations regarding proposed resolutions to the TASB Delegate Assembly for consideration in October. All resolutions will be presented in the TASB Delegate Assembly Handbook for review by delegates and alternates.

Once adopted, TASB Resolutions will form part of the TASB Advocacy Agenda along with the Priorities and Cornerstone Principles.

TASB would like to thank the following districts for submitting proposed resolutions:

Allen ISD

Austin ISD

Boles ISD

Bonham ISD

Brazosport ISD

Brownsville ISD

Canutillo ISD

Carroll ISD

Cotulla ISD

Denton ISD

Dripping Springs ISD

Elgin ISD

Eustace ISD

Frisco ISD

Greenville ISD


Kerrville ISD

Lefors ISD

Lewisville ISD

Mansfield ISD

North East ISD

Northside ISD

San Felipe Del Rio CISD

Seguin ISD

Splendora ISD

Sunnyvale ISD

Teague ISD

Thrall ISD

Tornillo ISD

Wichita Falls ISD | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 29
October 3 • Online
2020 Assembly is going virtual!
details will be shared in September. Make sure your board has a voice at the online Assembly. Register your delegate today!

It Starts at the Top

A Study of Trustees’ Perception of Their Role And its Relationship to Effective Practices

In a recent study of school trustee perception and behavior, results showed that school boards that commit to shared beliefs and core values connecting stakeholders to the district’s vision are able to establish a culture that facilitates rigorous learning for all students.

The study, conducted by University of North Texas doctoral candidate Angela Herron, was designed to examine how school board members perceive their role and its relationship to the Eight Characteristics of Effective School Boards— published by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) on school board practices relating to student achievement.

To exclude governance practices from the conversation overlooks one of the most influential roles in the education system. Herron’s study had three primary purposes: (1) Identify priorities Texas board presidents perceive to be most important in their role; (2) Describe activities, behaviors, and actions that Texas board presidents say they take to support their priorities; and (3) Compare board members’ reported priorities, activities, behaviors, and actions with the Eight Characteristics of Effective School Boards.

The Eight Characteristics, as identified by NSBA, are:

1. Effective school boards commit to a vision of high expectations for

establish a strong communications structure to inform and engage both internal and external stakeholders in setting and achieving district goals.

5. Effective boards are data-savvy; they embrace and monitor data, even when the information is negative, and use it to drive continuous improvement.

6. Effective school boards align and sustain resources, such as professional development, to meet district goals.

As researchers have found, while there is much interest in increasing student performance, the role of the governing body of local school districts tends to be omitted from many conversations about improvement. Many studies have identified characteristics of effective teachers and administrators; however, few have examined the effective practices of school boards.

Since the role of the school board touches every aspect of the district, it impacts all the learning and achievement in the district. Efforts that focus only on practices of teachers or administrators are not broad enough to have sustainable system impact on student performance.

student achievement and quality instruction and define clear goals toward that vision.

2. Effective school boards have strong shared beliefs and values about what is possible for students and their ability to learn and of the system and its ability to teach all children at high levels.

3. Effective school boards are accountability-driven, spending less time on operational issues and more time focused on policies to improve student achievement.

4. Effective school boards have a collaborative relationship with staff and the community and

7. Effective school boards lead as a united team with the superintendent, each from their respective roles, with strong collaboration and mutual trust.

8. Effective school boards take part in team development and training, sometimes with their superintendents, to build shared knowledge, values, and commitments for their improvement efforts.

According to NSBA, increasing academic student outcomes is the numberone priority of all highly effective school boards. The primary purpose of a school board is to govern the school system on behalf of its community and maximize

30 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 |
Good Governance
Since the role of the school board touches every aspect of the district, it impacts all the learning and achievement in the district.

the learning of students through available community resources.

The eight characteristics work collectively and continuously as a system to ensure that student achievement is the focus of all school board decisions and actions. Each characteristic is needed for a board to operate properly, and each has equal weight.

Herron identified through her research in Texas other items that are integral to the governance role in improving student learning. Those items include financial stewardship, involving the community as an aligned resource for meeting district goals, and mediating relationships among board members.

Focus on Student Achievement

Since the function of the school board touches every aspect of the district, the system charged with educating students is directly impacted by the philosophies and actions of the board. Research shows that high-performing school boards create a vision and mission that highlight the importance of student achievement and adopt district-level policies that support the vision and mission of the district. Everything begins and ends

(See Top, page 32.)

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with vision. A carefully worded and clear vision statement can shape the path and provide clear direction for the entire district. It helps the district problemsolve, plan with consistency, establish goals, create buy-in, engage stakeholders, provide hope, and improve outcomes. The vision should reflect core values and beliefs of the board and community.


November 6 • Austin

November 12 • Abilene

November 14 • South Padre

November 16 • Beaumont

November 17 • Kilgore

November 18 • Commerce

A focus on student achievement at the governance level helps the board lead a culture of continuous improvement. When a district has a culture of continuous improvement, high expectations for all students and the belief that all students can perform at high levels is shared across the district and community. Key governance studies suggest school board members are a vital factor in improving student outcomes. To optimize student outcomes, every part of the education system needs to be included.

Vision in Action

Effective boards operationalize shared beliefs and core values. This can help eliminate negative assumptions that stifle student outcomes and establish a culture that facilitates rigorous learning for all students. Shared beliefs and core values connect stakeholders to the district vision and provide an avenue for obtaining monetary and human capital support.

“When we see a public school system succeeding on all important fronts—in terms of student achievement, parental involvement, administrative efficiency, financial stability, and strong public support—we can be sure its school board is hard at work providing the high-impact leadership that these turbulent times demand.”

TASB’s research in Texas, assisted by educational researchers Ivan Lorentzen and Bill McCaw, shows a relationship between how boards report their involvement with the community and student achievement. David Lee, a presenter in the most recent XG Summit, highlighted his work on the relationship between board behavior, board member relationships, and student achievement.

Due to the continued prevalence of COVID-19, these seminars could become virtual events.

Stay tuned for more information.

The authors of the Eight Characteristics, Chuck Dervarics and Eileen O’Brien, noted that effective school boards hold themselves accountable by adhering to a defined structure grounded in improving student outcomes. Ineffective boards fail to make student outcomes a priority and tend toward micromanagement. They have trouble knowing the difference between the role of the superintendent and the board. This can create a strained relationship between the board president and superintendent and a lack of respect for board protocols, which leads to strife among board members.

Staying on Course

In addition to the Eight Characteristics, Herron’s study reveals the importance of financial stewardship, community involvement, and board self-management. Each of these areas has been highlighted in previous TASB articles and presented at TASB’s eXceptional Governance (XG) summits.

Following the maxim of “put your money where your mouth is,” effective school boards oversee district finances and allocate resources to obtain key priorities of the board and district. One of these resources is the human capital not only of staff but also of the community and families. Effective boards recognize the community as a vital resource and partner in accomplishing the district’s vision. They seek partnerships with community groups and individuals to support improved student success.

Perhaps most importantly, the most effective school boards keep themselves in line. They monitor their own performance and have the difficult conversations with each other when one or more members deviate from the course the board has set. This includes appropriately addressing actions, behavior, and decisions that deviate from previously agreed norms and plans. The most effective boards seek out professional development to help them stay the course and maintain the path for improving student learning.

Aligned, Sustained Resources

Making sure all resources and professional activities, including professional development, are based on the vision

32 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 |
—Governance Consultant Doug Eadie
Top (from page 31

and goals of the district is an essential characteristic of effective school boards. Regardless of the financial condition of the district, effective boards maintain the importance of professional development that focuses on specific practices and/ or activities to ensure increased student performance. These boards hold true to their goals and priorities.

To accomplish this, an effective board hires an excellent superintendent and oversees the management of district operations through the superintendent. The school board also ensures that the superintendent is appropriately executing his/her duties and responsibilities and serves as a liaison between the community and the district.

United Team

Effective school boards function in partnership with the superintendent as a team that respects, trusts, and shares ideas with one another on a consistent basis. They create the culture and structures that allow the superintendent to execute the management of the district.

The performance evaluation of the superintendent is co-developed and dis-

cussed in collaboration with the superintendent. The best boards have welldefined communication systems that ensure information is shared between the school board president and superintendent, as well as with the other members.

Collective Development, Learning

To do all this, attentive school board members seek out the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to increase achievement through governance. Effective boards have intentional procedures and governance practices to onboard new members.

Consistently participating in joint learning opportunities is another attribute of effective school boards. They prioritize professional learning, whether it is delivered through formal or informal structures such as workshops, called board meetings, community events, conferences, and retreats. Participation in various professional learning opportunities illustrates a commitment to the continued growth of the school district and student success.

What We’re Learning

TASB is a learning organization, and

we are learning more all the time about what constitutes good school district governance. Herron’s study, which will be available online by the end of August, highlights some things we already know and emphasizes key opportunities for improved governance.

There seems to be an equity component to engaging and involving the community in the governance process of a local school district. We are learning that boards that involve their community are more likely to be closing gaps while raising achievement for all students.

Herron’s study provides insight that the improvement may be coming from viewing the community as a strategic partner and essential aligned resource for improving student learning. Her research also emphasizes the importance of the board engaging in self-monitoring and improvement efforts. Boards that learn together oversee districts that are improving student learning.H | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 33
Web-based direct service documentation and reporting software
Training and best-practice guidance
User-friendly documentation process
Multi-tiered SHARS administration program
Step-by-step help with cost reporting and certification of funds Your district’s budget is limited. TASB Special Education Solutions can help you optimize eligible SHARS revenue through: Contact us for a low-cost solution. 888.630.6606 •
Angela Herron is a University of North Texas doctoral candidate. Phil Gore is division director of TASB Board Development Services.

Back to School—Safely

TEA Issues Guidelines for 2020-21 School Year

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced in July guidelines for students to return to school, prioritizing their health and safety while ensuring that students receive quality instruction, whether they choose to learn in a safe on-campus environment or remotely.

Note that these were the guidelines in place at press time in late July. The situation is fluid and may change; visit for the latest information.

“Both as commissioner and as a public school parent, my number-one priority is the health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. “That is why the guidance laid out today will provide flexibility to both parents and districts to make decisions based on the ever-changing conditions of this public health crisis. The state is and remains committed to providing a high-quality education to all Texas students, while ensuring the health and safety of students, teachers, staff, and families.”

Instructional Considerations

Q: When and how will school start?

A: School boards control the school calendar and have the flexibility to delay their school start date. As of their local start of school date, school systems may temporarily limit access to on campus instruction to facilitate an effective backto-school transition process during the first four to eight weeks of school.

School systems may limit access to on-campus instruction for up to four weeks. School systems may submit a board-approved waiver request to TEA to access the second four-week transition window if the school system believes it is best for the health and safety of its students, educators, and staff to extend this remote/transition window.

Any family that does not have Internet access and/or e-learning devices for remote learning is still entitled to receive oncampus instruction during this transition period.

Parents have the option to request a transfer to any school district to meet their children’s educational needs for remote instruction.

Q: How will school look?

A; School systems may utilize three models to provide instruction for the 2020-21 school year:

1. On Campus. School systems must offer on-campus instruction for those parents who choose on-campus instruction in order to be eligible for funding of their remote instruction models (with limited exceptions).

2. Synchronous Instruction. Requires teachers and students to be present at the same time, remotely (realtime, teacher-supported work on video conference calls, etc.)

3. Asynchronous Instruction. Does not require real-time participation (self-paced online courses with intermittent teacher instruction videos, pre-assigned work, etc.)

School systems must provide on-campus instruction for students whose parents want them to receive on-campus instruction, with certain exceptions:

• A full-time virtual campus operating under the Texas Virtual School Network

• Any day a campus is ordered closed by an entity, other than a local education agency (LEA) authorized to issue an order under state law

• A day an LEA closes a campus as a result of a confirmed COVID-19 case on campus

• As part of a start-of-school transition period

State Resources

TEA is providing school systems with the following resources to ensure a strong start:

• Reimbursement for extra COVID-19related expenses incurred during the 2019-20 school year

• Tens of millions of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies provided to school systems at no cost to Texas schools

• Free online, TEKS-aligned learning tools to deliver remote instruction

• Teacher training provided at no cost

• Statewide efforts to help bridge the

34 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 |
News & Events

digital divide for students at home, along with other ongoing support

For More Info

For more information, visit TEA’s coronavirus website at https://tea.texas. gov/coronavirus. A link to TEA’s comprehensive public health guidance can be found at default/files/covid/covid19-SY-20-21Public-Health-Guidance.pdf.

Note that due to the nature of this pandemic, parents and educators should expect to see some campuses close for brief periods during the upcoming school year. If there are significant changes to the public health situation, there may need to be additional changes to the public health guidance framework, as well.

This framework was developed based on the most current science with input from the Governor’s Coronavirus Medical Advisory Team, the Governor’s Strike Force to Reopen Texas, Texas school system leaders, ongoing global analysis of school operational practices, ongoing global analysis of research on viral spread in schools, and the latest peer-reviewed viral research studies.H | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 35 Achieve optimal staffing efficiency and effectiveness An HR Services Staffing Review examines staffing practices within the context of the district priorities and provides a road map for decision makers. Areas reviewed include: 800.580.7782 • Administrators • Professional support • Classroom teachers • Educational aides • Clerical support • Athletics • Special education • Operations and facilities • Student nutrition TASB Preferred Provider Planning to reopen your school doors? Get help making informed decisions with analysis and planning assistance from the TASB Facility Services team and preferred provider Cooperative Strategies. Contact TASB Facility Services at or call 800.580.8272

Attendees Report ‘Feel Good’ Experience Virtually

Handshakes and hallway conversations were replaced with virtual chats and “likes” at TASB’s first-ever virtual Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) June 24-26. Approximately 1,900 trustees and administrators from across the state registered to participate in virtual SLI, which served attendees its signature enriching and engaging learning experience with a slight venue change—online. Attendees enjoyed compelling general sessions and panels, a variety of timely breakout sessions, virtual expo booths, engaging chat conversations, and education-focused intermission content.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, TASB made the call mid-May to move its flagship conference, normally held in San Antonio and Fort Worth, to a virtual platform. “While seeing members at SLI is the highlight of my year, I knew I wanted to figure out a way to bottle up that SLI feeling and create an online space where they could engage, connect, and learn together, even if they were scattered across the state,” said TASB Assistant Director of Meetings and Event Planning Kathy Dundee.

Despite the changes, the new event format was met with rave reviews from attendees. “What I really liked was that there was a chat space for interactions with colleagues and the Q&A,” said Alief ISD Trustee Natasha Butler. “I would like to see that when we meet in person.”

SLI kicked off with newly required training on recognizing and reporting child abuse, one of the highest-attended sessions. The opening session was followed by a superintendent panel and facilitated “Night Owl Networking” to allow for deeper conversations among trustees. The next morning’s general session was met with a virtual standing ovation, as motivational speaker and educator Rick Rigsby inspired trustees with a powerful message about taking a stand and continuing to think together even if we don’t think alike. As the session ended, Fort Bend ISD

Trustee Allison Drew commented, “What an amazing kickoff! Great message…so energizing! I may not need a second cup of coffee!”

SLI closed with a timely student panel: “Coping with COVID: How Students in Texas and around the Nation Are Leading in the Face of COVID-19.” Three recent graduates and two students from Texas public schools joined two representatives from Student Voice for an in-depth conversation covering everything from virtual learning to diversity and minority leadership in classrooms and districts.

A special TASB “thank you” is extended to attendees, staff, and presenters who made SLI 2020 a unique, unforgettable experience. See you in person at SLI 2021: June 16–19 in San Antonio and June 23–26 in Fort Worth.

Regan Zuege is a TASB communications consultant.

Opposite page, Burkburnett ISD Board Vice-President

Terry Klipp smiles for the camera; at top left, TASB 2019-20 President Lee Lentz-Edwards of Kermit ISD addresses SLI attendees onscreen; at bottom left, attendees from West Orange-Cove CISD get in the spirit of things for virtual SLI; above, TASB staffers keep things running smoothly from the “master control room” in TASB headquarters; below, TASB Creative Production Manager Virginia Hernandez gives a "thumbs-up" behind the scenes.

Photos by TASB Media Services | August 2020 | Texas Lone Star 37

Student Solutions Launches Program to Help Districts with Special Ed Regulations

As districts juggle with the new challenges of starting the school year mid-pandemic, they also must prepare for a new Texas Education Agency (TEA) requirement to submit special education operating procedures this fall. TASB Student Solutions is working to relieve some of that burden on districts by launching its new membership program designed to help districts comply with the new regulation and strengthen their programs that serve special populations as a whole.

Online Access

Creating, reviewing, and revising operating procedures can be timeconsuming, so TASB created the Student Solutions Membership for the 2020-21 school year. The new membership offers model operating procedures through the TASB Student Solutions Online™ portal, exclusively for Student Solutions members.

The procedures are vetted through expert school attorneys and special educa-

tors and are updated to reflect best practices and relevant regulations. Districts can tailor the procedures to fit their needs or have the TASB team customize them.

Membership Features

More than just a gallery of templated operating procedures, the membership helps districts get ahead of annual updates and resources to help strengthen programs that serve their students.

The Student Solutions Membership gives districts access to:

• Customizable special education model operating procedures

• Resources for running an efficient program centered on best practices

• Online and local training opportunities

In addition to model operating procedures, TASB will provide:

• Templates and instructions for folder reviews

• Workload analysis structures for

staff that serve special education student populations

• Resources designed with members in mind

• Online and regional training offerings each semester

New TEA Requirement

TEA requires districts to submit special education operating procedures to comply with IDEA 34 C.F.R. §§300.201 (2020) in providing for the education of children with disabilities. Districts must have operating procedures, historically called operating guidelines, that are consistent with state policies and procedures established under 34 CFR §§300.101-300.163 and §§300.165-300.174. Districts must submit those operating procedures; Student Solutions helps meet this requirement and strengthen process documentation.

For more information on the new membership or to get started, visit tasb. org/student-solutions-membership.H

38 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 |
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SOTY Regional Winners Announced

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

Regional winners of the annual Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) award were announced in July. Regional superintendents of the year, nominated by regional selection committees, are:

• Jose Gonzalez, McAllen ISD, Region 1

• Roland Hernandez, Corpus Christi ISD, Region 2

• Marshall Scott III, Bay City ISD, Region 3

• Danny Massey, Brazosport ISD, Region 4

• Michelle Barrow, Newton ISD, Region 5

• Andrew Peters, Caldwell ISD, Region 6

• Jerry Gibson, Marshall ISD, Region 7

• Greg Bower, Como-Pickton CISD, Region 8

• Todd Wilson, Chillicothe ISD, Region 9

• Marc Smith, Duncanville ISD, Region 10

• Jamie Wilson, Denton ISD, Region 11

• David Edison, Aquilla ISD, Region 12

• Roger Dees, Giddings ISD, Region 13

• Joe Young, Brownwood ISD, Region 15

• Darryl Flusche, Canyon ISD, Region 16

• Becky McCutchen, Alpine ISD, Region 18

• Juan Cabrera, El Paso ISD, Region 19

• Thomas Price Jr., Boerne ISD, Region 20

Candidates are chosen for their strong leadership skills, dedication to improving educational quality, ability to build effective employee relations, student performance, and commitment to public involvement in education. Local nominees are submitted to a regional selection committee, which chooses one nominee to send to the state selection committee.

The state committee will interview regional winners August 28-29 and select five state finalists. The Superintendent of the Year will be announced at the 2020 TASA | TASB Convention. Sponsored by TASB, the SOTY program has recognized exemplary superintendents for excellence and achievement in educational leadership since 1984. For more information about the SOTY awards program, visit communications-and-pr/recognition-programs/superintendent-of-the-year.aspx H

Recruiting Education Leaders to Chart the Future of Schools

My experience with TASB Executive Search Services (ESS) was first class from start to finish...I think the number and quality of candidates could not have been surpassed. The online process makes reviewing applications a breeze. I know if or when I need to do another superintendent search my first call will be to ESS.

Visionary Leadership at Every Step

Executive Search Services is committed to helping school districts find the best superintendent candidates. Our process has been refined with the benefit of three decades’ experience, and we will customize the search to meet the needs of your school board and district.

To learn more, visit or call 800.580.8272, ext. 3690.


Bulletin Board

COVID-19 Guidance Tops Member Survey Topics

According to results from the 2020 TASB Member Survey, customer service was the highest-rated individual performance category among members surveyed. Survey participants rated the Association’s performance on a five-star scale, with 1 star being “poor” and 5 stars being “excellent.” TASB received an overall average rating of 4.44, nearly unchanged from 2019 (4.46).

Compared to 2019, ratings were similar across all categories this year. In addition to rating TASB’s performance and activities, members shared comments regarding anticipated challenges and where TASB should focus future efforts. Some of the top comments included:

• COVID-19 guidance

• Training topics, formats, and administration

• Advocacy to address school finance, accountability system, and employee benefits

• Rural and small district concerns and resources

The TASB Member Survey was sent to Texas school board members and superintendents in April. Ratings across all performance and activity indicators ranged from 4.15 to 4.5.

Lockhart ISD Superintendent Honored by Texas State

Lockhart ISD Superintendent Mark Estrada was recently honored with the Young Alumni Rising Star Award for 2020 by Texas State University, Estrada’s alma mater.

The Young Alumni Rising Star Award was created in 2015 to honor Texas State alumni who are under the age of 40. Recipients of this award “demonstrate a level of excellence that positively represents the university and serve to inspire current students and other recent graduates to excel in their work and recognize the important impact of their experience as a student at Texas State,” according to a Texas State University news release.

Estrada, who graduated from Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in 2006 and a master’s degree in secondary education in 2009, was selected as the Lockhart ISD superintendent in 2018. In his education career, he has served as a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent.

In his recommendation letter to Texas State University, Lockhart ISD Board President Steve Johnson noted, “Because of the tremendous contributions he has made in such a short time in Lockhart ISD, as well as his visionary leadership, the LISD Board of Trustees hired Mr. Estrada as our superintendent of schools in 2018. He had already transformed systems, raised expectations, boosted student growth and achievement, and was the architect of our 1.5 strategy; we knew we wanted to continue on that same upward trajectory, all the while excited about where he would lead us next.”

Regional Nominees Announced for Outstanding School Board Award

Fourteen Texas school district boards of trustees have been selected as regional nominees for the 2020 Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) School Board Awards program. The regional nominees for 2020 Outstanding School Board of the Year are:

• McAllen ISD, Region 1

• Calhoun County ISD, Region 3

• Sheldon ISD, Region 4

• Vidor ISD, Region 5

• Whitehouse ISD, Region 7

• Throckmorton Collegiate ISD, Region 9

• Mesquite ISD, Region 10

• Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, Region 11

• Temple ISD, Region 12

• Pflugerville ISD, Region 13

• San Angelo ISD, Region 15

• Dumas ISD, Region 16

• San Elizario ISD, Region 19 (large district category)

• Tornillo ISD, Region 19 (small district category)

Texas school superintendents who are TASA members and meet other criteria may nominate their boards of trustees for the TASA School Board Awards. Committees of TASA members organized by Texas’ regional education service centers review the nominations and select up to two school boards for consideration for the state-level awards: one with fewer than 1,000 students and one with 1,000 or more students.

TASA’s School Board Awards Committee will meet virtually in early August to select up to five of the nominated boards to be recognized as Honor Boards. Those finalists will be interviewed this fall, and the 2020 Outstanding School Board will be announced.

The TASA School Board Awards Program was established in 1971 to recognize the dedication and service of school boards that make a positive impact on the schoolchildren of Texas.

40 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 |
If you have a short news item you would like to submit to Bulletin Board,
Meet Special Education Operating Procedures Requirements the Easy Way Join the TASB Student Solutions Membership to gain access to: • Customizable model special education operating procedures • Resources for running efficient and compliant programs • Online and local training opportunities Learn more at #tasatasb UPLOADING... We’re going virtual! Join us September 30–October 2. Registration opens Tuesday, August 18.

Rolling Out New Features

TASB Continues to Update, Expand Various Offerings

Q:What is new with TASB services?

A: Despite the disruptions to regular routines, progress continues.

Some parts of our lives seem to be on endless hold. There are places we can’t go, things we can’t do, and almost no sports on TV. For some of my friends, that last one is the most life-changing.

However, many things seem to be moving forward as though unfazed by the disruptions around us. I’m glad to say that TASB is still introducing new ways we can serve members, regardless of these unprecedented circumstances. I will mention just a few new initiatives.

ing a new version of the popular BoardBook agenda preparation tool. BoardBook® Premier is built on new technology and provides additional features. BoardBook Classic is being phased out because its underlying technology is not sustainable, and we want to make sure you have a reliable tool to use for your board meetings.

The original deadline to move to Premier was August 31, 2020, but due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, the deadline has been extended three months to November 30 to help you make the transition to the improved product as smoothly as possible. Most Texas school districts have been trained on the new product and are in the process of transitioning; this extra three months will allow that transition to be easier.

Facility Services

This year, Facility Services introduced a new Planning Membership program— and districts are taking advantage of its Educational Facility Assessment services. Additionally, Facility Services is updating environmental software systems and further developing a platform for facility planning data. Each will result in dashboards for participating members to quickly access and easily understand their facility-related information.

Student Solutions

Student Solutions is a new service area offering program reviews, workload analysis for staffing in special education, capacity-building offerings of executive coaching, and professional development. Service offerings are for all special population programs, including special education, Section 504, English learners, and gifted and talented.


The online purchasing cooperative is getting an update this summer. The BuyBoard is a great way to speed up your purchasing while ensuring that you follow all the required purchasing procedures. Soon BuyBoard purchasing will be even easier, as a new interface is introduced. Be sure to visit the new BuyBoard, and you will be impressed!

Also, BuyBoard is one of the few purchasing cooperatives that provides rebates at the end of the year. Those checks are always a nice surprise for your budget!


Almost a year ago, TASB began offer-

Member Center

Last year, TASB opened its online Member Center to trustees, taking the first step to providing more customized content to members. This year, the Member Center is being expanded to many district personnel. You may have noticed that your access to various TASB services looks different. All the same information is there—it’s just positioned differently and built on a better foundation for future enhancements. (Not all district staff will see the new look right away. Risk Management contacts will continue to see the RM portal for now and will be moved into the Member Center in a next phase of development.)

Also, Student Solutions will begin offering a Student Solutions OnlineTM membership for the 2020-21 school year, which will provide districts with resources and training for all special populations and model operating procedures, focused on special education in the first year with plans to expand into all special populations over the next three years.

So, as I said earlier, there is a lot going on moving forward, opening up new possibilities, and TASB is working to be responsive in new areas for your requests for help. As always, let us know what you need. We are here to serve you.H

42 Texas Lone Star | August 2020 | Q & A
There is a lot going on moving forward, opening up new possibilities, and TASB is working to be responsive in new areas for your requests for help.

Learn and earn credit from the comfort of your home

TASB has expanded online resources and training to assist school board members. Check out the possibilities!

Convention is just around the corner

Join us September 30–October 2 for txEDCON2020, the largest convening of Texas public education policymakers. Visit the TASA|TASB Convention website for updates on this year’s event.


Additional online training and resources for trustees

Leaders: Help boost student performance

TASB’s eXceptional Governance (XG) training enables your board to:

• Create a shared vision

• Understand data to assist decisions

• Apply a goal-monitoring system

• Commit to ongoing improvement

• Communicate a focus on student outcomes

TASB Online Learning Center (OLC)

Take advantage of the OLC—anytime, anywhere. Check out our current courses:

• NEW Texas Open Meetings Act

• SB 1566: Governance for Improved Student Learning (EISO Training)


Three webinars for your training and information needs

• Preparing to Serve: A Webinar for School Board Candidates

Thursday, August 6, Noon–1 p.m.

• What Board Members Need to Know about Sexual Abuse, Sex Trafficking, and Other Maltreatment of Children

Tuesday, August 18, Noon–1 p.m.

• SB 1566 Training: Governance for Improved Student Learning

Wednesday, August 26, 1–4 p.m.

NEW The Board Update

An e-newsletter designed to give school boards timely information they need to make better decisions. Watch your inbox for the next issue!

For information on any of these offerings: 800.580.8272, ext. 2453 •

NONPROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PAID AUSTIN TEXAS PERMIT NO 1422 Texas Association of School Boards P.O. Box 400 Austin, Texas 78767-0400 Save the date TASB Conference for Administrative Professionals l October 22–23, 2020 l February 4–5, 2021 (repeat of October event) TASB Headquarters | Austin Check in late August for program details and registration information.

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