January/February 2020

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Also in This Edition: Critical Thinking Through Ag Ed Why Everyone Should Know Their Food Sources Join the Conversation TASB Grassroots Meetings Get Underway Across the State ‘WE’VE COME A VERY LONG WAY’ Quartet of Longest-Serving Female Trustees in Texas Shares Stories of Leadership, Dedication A Publication of the Texas Association of School Boards | Volume 38, Number 1 | January/February 2020 Texas Lone Star

Featured Event




1 • National School Boards Association (NSBA) Equity Symposium, Washington, DC

2-4 • NSBA Advocacy Institute, Washington, DC

4 • TASB Facility Services Asbestos Designated Person Training, Abilene • TASB Grassroots Meetings, San Angelo, Victoria

5 • TASB

TASB Officers 2019-20

Lee Lentz-Edwards, Kermit ISD, President

Jim Rice, Fort Bend ISD, President-Elect

Ted Beard, Longview ISD, First Vice-President

Debbie Gillespie, Frisco ISD, Second Vice-President

Bob Covey, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Secretary-Treasurer

Jim de Garavilla, Silsbee ISD, Immediate Past President

TASB Board of Directors 2019-20

Moises Alfaro, Mathis ISD, Region 2

Kay Alley, Crosbyton CISD, Region 17

Rose Avalos, Aldine ISD, Region 4H

Kamlesh Bhikha, ESC 2, ESC Representative

Steve Brown, Ector County ISD, Region 18

Kevin A. Carbo, Mesquite ISD, Region 10D

Yolanda Cuellar, South Texas ISD, Region 1B

Thomas Darden, Cooper ISD, Region 8

Jason Dohnalik, Cameron ISD, Region 6

Karen Freeman, Northside ISD, Region 20B

Corinne French, Valley View ISD, Region 11D

Demetrio D. Garcia, Kenedy ISD, Region 3

Linda Gooch, Sunnyvale ISD, Region 10B

Mary Jane Hetrick, Dripping Springs ISD, Region 13B

Tony Hopkins, Friendswood ISD, Region 4C

Sandy Hughey, North East ISD, Region 20E

Bill Lacy, Katy ISD, Region 4E

Mark Lukert, Wichita Falls ISD, Region 9

Jayme Mathias, Austin ISD, Region 13A

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

Dan Micciche, Dallas ISD, Region 10C

Vernagene Mott, Pflugerville ISD, Region 13C

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

Nicholas Phillips, Nederland ISD, Region 5

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

Page Rander, Clear Creek ISD, Region 4B

Georgan Reitmeier, Klein ISD, Region 4A

Armando Rodriguez, Canutillo ISD, Region 19B

Rolinda Schmidt, Kerrville ISD, Region 20A

Rhonda Skillern-Jones, Houston ISD, Region 4D

Cindy Spanel, Highland Park ISD, Region 16

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

Mildred Watkins, La Vega ISD, Region 12

Greg Welch, Clyde CISD, Region 14

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

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

2 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org Calendar
Facility Services Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Training, Abilene • TASB Grassroots Meeting, Houston 6 • TASB Facility Services Best Practices: Construction Fundamentals Training, Abilene • TASB Grassroots Meetings, Beaumont, El Paso 6-7 • TASB Conference for Administrative Professionals, Austin 11 • TASB Grassroots Meetings, Huntsville, Waco 12 • TASB Grassroots Meeting, Richardson • TASB HR Services “Understanding Wage and Hour Law” Workshop, Abilene 13 • TASB Grassroots Meetings, Edinburg, Lubbock 18 • TASB Grassroots Meetings, Kilgore, Pittsburg 19 • TASB Grassroots Meeting, White Settlement 20 • TASB Grassroots Meeting, San Antonio 21 • State Board for Educator Certification Meeting, Austin 26 • TASB Grassroots Meeting, Wichita Falls 26-29 • 2020 Governance Camp, Galveston 27 • TASB Grassroots Meeting, Abilene MARCH 3 • TASA/TASB/TASBO Budget Cohort for Texas District Leaders, Houston 4 • TASB HR Services “Supervisor’s Guide to Managing Employees” Workshop, Wichita Falls 10 • TASB Facility Services Asbestos Designated Person Training, Beaumont 11 • TASB Facility Services Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Training, Beaumont 12 • TASB Facility Services Indoor Air Quality Coordinator Training, Beaumont 24 • TASB Facility Services Asbestos Designated Person Training, White Settlement 25 • TASB Facility Services Integrated Pest Management Coordinator Training, White Settlement • TASB Spring Workshop, Kingsville 30 • TASB Spring Workshop, Wichita Falls 31 • TASB Facility Services Best Practices: Maintenance and Operations Training, Austin


‘We’ve Come a Very Long Way’

Four of the state’s longest-serving female trustees share stories of their motivation, their successes, their challenges, and their vision for public education.


2 Calendar 22 Legal News

26 Capital Watch

28 Technology Today

30 News & Events


5 From the


7 Editor’s Footnote

37 Leadership TASB

42 Q & A

14 Critical Thinking Through Ag Education

Ag ed teaches students about food production, farming, the food supply chain, animal and worker welfare, sustainability—and critical thinking.

18 Join the Conversation

TASB invites trustees and superintendents to attend the 2020 TASB Grassroots Meetings and participate in the discussion to guide our advocacy efforts.

Web Watch

TASB offers a broad range of solutions for your special populations programs. Get more information on TASB’s Student Solutions consulting at tasb.org/student-solutions-tls

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

Texas Lone Star • Volume 38, Number 1

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

Capital Printing • 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.


texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 3
us: Features
Contents | January/February 2020

Training without all the travel.

2020 Spring Workshops!

Take advantage of our most popular training sessions for school board members in multiple locations across the state. Find the location closest to you. Visit tasb.org/board-dev and navigate to Events for more information about Spring Workshops including registration details. Board Development Services Kingsville • Texas A&M University—Kingsville • March 25 Wichita Falls • Region 9 Education Service Center • March 30 Stephenville • Tarleton State University • April 2 San Angelo • Region 15 Education Service Center • April 7 Lubbock • Region 17 Education Service Center • April 21 Houston • Region 4 Education Service Center • April 22 Alpine • Sul Ross State University • May 4 Iraan-Sheffield • Iraan-Sheffield Elementary School • May 5 El Paso • Region 19 Education Service Center • May 7 Commerce • Texas A&M University—Commerce • May 11 Nacogdoches • Stephen F. Austin State University • May 12 Canyon • West Texas A&M University • May 13 Huntsville • Region 6 Education Service Center • May 14 South Padre Island • South Padre Island Convention Center • May 15 &16 Abilene • Region 14 Education Service Center • May 18 Waco • Region 12 Education Service Center • May 19 Uvalde • Uvalde ISD-Benson Educational Complex • May 27

A Relevant Challenge

Leadership TASB Program Offers Worthwhile Test

In life, we face many challenges. Some are of our own choosing. Some are not. Some challenges seem to be worth the effort and some … not so much. Yet looking back, the challenges I have conquered only seemed worthwhile to me if their relevancy was apparent. No relevance, no value.

For example, as a high school student, given a choice I would not have chosen to learn about the quadratic equation. This concept, though important to life as we know it, seemed to have little relevance to me as a teen. Later, however, I learned that application of the quadratic equation makes for nice curves—like the arc of a kicked soccer ball or the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Who knew? Relevancy makes the difference.

‘Back in School’

I had heard some good things about the Leadership TASB program some years back, and in 2011 I thought, “Why not?” I applied but was not accepted.

I inquired as to “why not me?” I was coached to really read the application and to sell myself if I wanted to be chosen the next time I applied. Being familiar with all those Miss Texas winners you see on television who were runners-up in previous years’ pageants, I thought, “I can do this.” I can paint a picture of who I really am. With redoubled effort and a little luck, I became a member of the Leadership TASB Class of 2013.

That class was one of life’s challenges that I do not regret. It was not what I expected. It was kind of like the Peace Corps motto: “The toughest job you’ll ever love.” It entailed five onsite sessions of intense, rigorous, and demanding activities spread from September to

June. We had 35 members in our class, each person unique in their own right, each from districts just as varied as the class. Ages ranged from early 30s to mid 70s. Some had served on their boards a relatively short time; others had a decade or more of service. This class represented school districts large and small, wealthy and poor, metropolitan and rural. Leadership TASB 2013 was a reflection of the face of Texas and her school districts.

the class was so different from any audience I had ever had, my anxiety was at an all-time high. It was a challenge but a successful one—because the class saw the relevance.

My group was quite eclectic: from a pastor’s wife to an accountant, a medical doctor, a firefighter, and a programmer to me. The group project transformed six disparate strangers into a united team. Our presentation came together because we shared concerns relevant to all schools

Some of the time, it felt like we were students back in school—and I do not mean elementary school. Through our sessions, we gained a historical perspective of schools in Texas. We found out a lot about ourselves. Through the training, we added to our knowledge of governance, trusteeship, equity, and advocacy. The hours were long, but there was always something to laugh about, relate to, and prepare for going into the next meeting. We traveled to Corpus Christi, Texarkana, San Marcos, Austin, and Fort Worth.

From Strangers to Teammates

We each had an individual assignment as well as a group project. My individual assignment was another challenge: a book study. I was to create an activity to bring the group together as we shared our newfound knowledge. Though I present trainings for a living,

in Texas, not just our own local districts. We had the opportunity to present not only at the TASA/TASB Convention but at Midwinter, as well.

‘Try It, You’ll Like It’

Leadership TASB 2013 alum Dan Hernandez, a member of our group, said of his experiences, “I had served on my local board several years before LTASB, so one of the things I gained was a reinforcement of decisions previously made. It felt good to know we had made the right decisions. Networking was the best part. It was nice to have a close-knit group that I could bounce ideas off of and to brainstorm with.”

Relevancy is key. Leadership TASB is a relevant challenge. As the saying goes, “Try it, you’ll like it.”H

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 5 From the Top
Lee Lentz-Edwards Lee Lentz-Edwards, a Kermit ISD trustee, is 2019-20 president of TASB.
Through our sessions, we gained a historical perspective of schools in Texas. We found out a lot about ourselves.

To Rank or Not to Rank

New Study Casts Doubt on ‘Top 10 Percent Rule’

In 1997, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 588, commonly referred to as the “Top 10 Percent Rule.” This new law guaranteed Texas students who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class automatic admission to all state-funded colleges. The rule was designed to provide better access to top universities for graduates from schools with high rates of lower-income or non-white students and those from rural areas.

A new study, however, is casting doubt on whether the law has accomplished those goals over its 20-year lifespan.

In the January 9 edition of EduLege, a member newsletter of the Texas School Public Relations Association, Andy Welch notes that the working paper by Kalena Cortes, an economics professor at Texas A&M University, and Daniel Klasik, assistant professor of education at the University of North Carolina, concludes that little has changed in terms of the demographics of students who attend the state’s two flagship schools—The University of Texas at Austin (UT) and Texas A&M University—and the high schools that send students to those two colleges.

“What we asked in this paper was, are we seeing more students from more high schools enrolling in flagships?” Klasik said.

“And the answer, essentially, was no.”

Their research showed that before and after the law went into effect, approximately 40 percent of Texas high schools consistently sent their seniors to the flagship universities, while another 15 percent occasionally had their graduates enroll. About 45 percent of Texas schools never sent a student to either university, and schools in that group disproportion-

ately serve economically disadvantaged, non-white, and rural students.

Still Under Pressure

While the law’s efficacy has been questioned, students across the state remain under pressure to earn a top spot in their graduating classes, Welch writes. If they want automatic admission into UT, they have to be in the top 6 percent. As the state continues to balloon in population, Cortes says competition for a limited number of college admissions will only become more intense.

“We have two flagships, and those have limited seating, so it’s going to get harder and harder to get into them,” Cortes said.

“What the state should be thinking about is what other institutions could be elevated to flagship status. We need to think strategically about demographic growth and migration from other states.”

District Response

Frustrated with the “Top 10 Percent Rule” and the emotional pressure it places on many students, more and more Texas school districts are changing how they rank students for college admission purposes, Welch notes.

Last June, Friendswood ISD decided that it would no longer rank students below the top 10 percent, and the district advised students outside that group to check a box on college applications saying their school does not rank students. Katy ISD implemented a similar policy in August, and Fort Bend ISD is following suit.

The dubious effect of House Bill 588 on providing broader access to top-tier universities may have lawmakers rethinking the “Top 10 Percent Rule” as more longitudinal studies come to light.H

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 7
Editor’s Footnote
Roger White is managing editor of Texas Lone Star


Quartet of Longest-Serving Female Trustees in Texas Shares Stories of Leadership, Dedication

According to TASB records, approximately 20 female school board members now serving in Texas have served their local school districts for 30 years or more. Several of them, who have each dedicated at least 35 years to their districts, spoke with Texas Lone Star recently about their motivation, their successes, their challenges, and their vision for public education.

Virginia McNairn, who first sat on the dais for the Walnut Bend ISD Board in 1981, was the first woman on her local board. “Many years passed before another lady joined us,” she noted.

The community of Walnut Bend, on the banks of the Red River in northern Cooke County, has been such an integral part of McNairn’s life since childhood that giving something back to her schools was a natural thing to do.

“I grew up in Walnut Bend, attended the school, as did my mother, five siblings, and my four children,” she said. “I became a single mom in 1968, returned to the community I grew up in, and worked as a senior buyer for Weber Aircraft in Gainesville for 25 years. Education has been part of my life in one way or another for as long as I can remember. Our community is small, so [serving on the school board] seemed a method of doing something other than work as part of our PTC [PTA equivalent].”

After McNairn’s children grew up, she finished her education, became a teacher, and taught special education classes at nearby Pilot Point High School for 13 years.

Changes have been plenty since McNairn attended her first board meeting. Among the most significant she noted have been increased emphasis on standardized testing, removal of prayer in the classroom, a shift in local board authority, and more required documentation for all areas of education. McNairn also recalls searching for Walnut Bend ISD’s first superintendent.

“We saw our local value reduced drastically when the oil industry fell in the early 1980s. Our status as a wealthy school district was reversed,” she said. “As a result of local jobs in the oil field disappearing, we saw our enrollment drop. At one point, the enrollment was at 19. Thanks to some dedicated board members, community members, and school leaders, we were able to grow.”

Today, Walnut Bend ISD serves approximately 80 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade. McNairn stressed that ensuring each of those students feels cared for and safe—and working to keep her small district viable—are top priorities for her and the district leadership.

“Regardless of their social status, I think we have been able to make students feel important and loved. What else promotes a better learning environment? What keeps me going? Love of my community, desire to keep our small school open— we have faced that possibility many times—and the children.”

“For many years, we had a county superintendent. Schools here were required to have only a principal. When that position was eliminated, searching for our first superintendent was an experience.”

Although serving as the district’s lone female trustee for years posed no undue hardships, McNairn said, a true challenge came when the local economy began to wither.

“Regardless of their social status, I think we have been able to make students feel important and loved. What else promotes a better learning environment?"
texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 9
Photo courtesy of Virginia McNairn

A New Voice

Similarly, Gloria Torres, a Gonzales ISD trustee for more than 35 years, grew up in the community she serves and attended Gonzales schools. In this historic Texas town along the Guadalupe River, Torres sought a seat on the school board upon the urging of citizens wanting a new voice.

“As our minority groups grew in our community, there was no representation for them at that moment,” she recalled. “I was approached by a few members in our Hispanic community and asked to join and be their voice. With two young children almost in school, it was a great opportunity to get involved and be a part of Gonzales ISD.”

With a place at the leadership table, the expectations and achievements of minorities in the district grew over the years, Torres noted.

“As a minority, I witnessed the increase in opportunities in education for the minorities and all students,” she said. “The minority community has been offered more opportunities when it comes to being successful in the classroom. This also includes special services that are now available and extensive for all students who need them. We’ve come a very long way.”

Torres, who manages her own insurance agency and has been an agent for 36 years, graduated from Gonzales High School in 1976. A member of the Gonzales Chamber of Commerce, Torres also serves in a leadership position in her church. Her four grandchildren keep her very involved in Gonzales sports and extracurricular activities, she said.

“The growth in our schools and involvement of our community have been tremendous. We have so much school spirit and support from our community. We have wonderful administration, teachers, and staff who work together to help our students be successful. This year, one of our focus points has been our school culture. I can see a huge change in the schools from administration to teachers and staff.”

A big need, however, is more financial support from the state, Torres said. “More funding is always helpful when it comes to education. There is always a new program and a new resource that is helpful and can aid the instruction of our students. With the growth of communities, more staff and space are definitely needed.”

Coming Home

In the southern Freestone County community of Teague, Lovie Whyte felt the same calling that Torres did in Gonzales.

“I became interested in serving on the Teague ISD Board after relocating from Alexandria, Virginia, to Teague in 1982. Two of my three children were enrolled in the TISD system,” Whyte said. “I became more involved in the activities within the schools. There were no minorities on the board at that time, and I felt that some minority representation was needed. There had been a minority on the board during the initial integration of the schools, but none before my appointment.”

Whyte first took the oath of office as a Teague ISD trustee in 1984 and has served ever since. Born and raised in Teague, Whyte attended Prairie View A&M University after high school graduation, then embarked on a circuitous career journey before returning to her hometown.

“After marriage, I lived in Columbus, Ohio, for six years and worked in the Coal Analysis Department at Ohio State University. We later moved to Fredonia, New York, for three years, where I did volunteer work in the community. We then moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where I was employed at System Research Group and The Institute for Defense Analysis.”

In 1982, a need to care for her parents brought Whyte back home.

“My parents were getting older and needed extra attention. My mother was injured in an automobile accident in 1984 and was paralyzed from the neck down. I was glad to be home to care for them until they made their transition. I started a daycare business in 1983 and operated the center until 1996. During those years, being on the school board, I had the honor to present diplomas to my students from my daycare.”

10 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
Gloria Torres, Gonzales ISD Photo courtesy of Gloria Torres

In her tenure on the Teague ISD Board, Whyte has witnessed great change, from more opportunities for minorities to the rapid advance of technology. She points with pride to the programs and facilities her district provides for its 1,230 students.

“Our staff at the Academy are really focused on keeping the students motivated and encouraged to complete their work. Currently, we have had 94 students return to complete their coursework and graduate. We have 20 students enrolled for this year and will graduate this school year. At least 27 students are attending college; some joined the military; and others received certification in a skill with which they can be employed. It warms my heart watching the students and especially the parents on graduation night. They are so happy and proud of their accomplishments.”

Whyte, whose community involvement includes the Teague Chamber of Commerce, Freestone County Appraisal District Board, Texas Caucus of Black School Board Members, and Central Texas Council of Child Protection Board, among others, cited parental involvement as a critical factor in the improvement of public schools.

“I’m most proud of our district facilities. I feel we have the best in our rural surrounding area,” she said. “All staff are innovative and are willing to implement what they have learned in the staff developments, seminars, and workshops that we provide for them.”

Whyte noted that the district’s Lion Academy is her “pride and joy.” The academy, created in 2014, provides an alternative for students who have difficulty in the traditional high school setting.

“Our educational system needs more parental involvement. Schools should implement community communication with monthly meetings with alumni associations, churches, and businesses,” Whyte explained. “These meetings will inform the citizens in the district how they can get involved in the school by volunteering and mentoring students.”

Why does Whyte serve? “Watching students escalate and becoming very positive about their future is what keeps me going. To me, being on the board and being a part of the decisions that are made to improve their future is why I continue to serve.”

“Watching students escalate and becoming very positive about their future is what keeps me going. To me, being on the board and being a part of the decisions that are made to improve their future is why I continue to serve.”
Lovie Whyte, Teague ISD
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TASB File Photo

A ‘Professional Volunteer’

In McKinney ISD, Lynn Sperry spent several years volunteering for her local parent-teacher organization when she realized her district needed change.

“Serving for four years as president of the PTO in the elementary school that my children attended gave me an insight into teacher morale and some of the issues I felt strongly about,” Sperry recalled. “As a result, I wanted to be an advocate for our teachers and students. My desire was to see our district become an innovative and highly respected district, where the best teachers would want to come to teach and where students could excel.”

That desire led Sperry to run for the McKinney ISD Board. She won a tight runoff race in May 1984 and has been a trustee, serving in every officer capacity, ever since.

A “buckeye” from Central Ohio, Sperry was raised in a household that revered education. “My mother was an elementary teacher who taught for 25 years in the elementary school that I attended. I give my mother a lot of credit for my interest in education, volunteer spirit, and willingness to work toward bettering my community.”

Before moving to Texas, Sperry taught elementary music and middle school vocal music and directed the middle school band for three years in Ohio.

“As my children entered school, I became very active as a volunteer in the elementary school they attended,” she said. “I often say that I have spent most of my years as a ‘professional volunteer.’ I have served on several nonprofit boards in our community.”

The linchpin of Sperry’s volunteer efforts is being the catalyst for the formation of the McKinney Education Foundation (MEF). While serving as chair of the McKinney Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, Sperry had the idea to form a stand-alone organization to provide scholarships for the district’s graduating seniors.

“Through the efforts of many wonderful donors, the foundation has grown an endowment of almost $10 million. Last spring, our scholarships from the community totaled $450,000,” Sperry said. “Additionally, MEF employs scholarship advisers for each of our three large high schools to assist seniors in finding and applying for college scholarships. Those three advisers were responsible for students receiving an additional $19,800,000 in 2018. I am so proud of what MEF has become.”

Lynn Sperry, McKinney ISD
“I wanted to be an advocate for our teachers and students. My desire was to see our district become an innovative and highly respected district, where the best teachers would want to come to teach and where students could excel.”
12 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
Photo courtesy of Lynn Sperry

Another source of pride for Sperry and her district’s leadership team is McKinney ISD’s Serenity High, designed for students struggling with alcohol or drug addiction.

“Serenity’s mission is to give students a second chance, allow them a safe place to receive their high school education, and graduate with a bona fide diploma,” Sperry said. “We just celebrated our 20th birthday for Serenity and have had almost 300 graduates.”

Like Gonzales ISD’s Torres, Sperry sees public education’s dire financial straits as a chief concern.

“One of the most significant changes I’ve seen over the years is in the financing of education. When I got elected 36 years ago, a large percentage of the money that supported education came from the state. Today, a very small portion of McKinney ISD’s funding comes from the state, and a huge amount comes from the local community.”

Compounding the financial burden is the fact that schools today are asked to provide many services beyond just academics, Sperry added. “Everything from serving breakfast to nursing and counseling for students is expected from our staff. That is a major change from my first years on the board.”

Sperry, whose long list of community involvement includes serving on the TASB Board of Directors, North Texas Area Association of School Boards, and McKinney Baylor Scott & White Hospital Board, among others, is a graduate of the Leadership TASB program and earned the designation of Master Trustee.

“There has always been something on the horizon that I wanted to see come to fruition—some goal that I wanted to see the district reach—that has kept me going,” Sperry said of her motivation and drive. “To see the district grow and become the fine institution it has become is my reward. I feel so blessed to have traveled this road.”H

According to our records, these female trustees have served on their respective school boards for 30 years or more. TASB salutes each of these outstanding local public education leaders (listed in order of tenure).

Note: If you know of someone who should be on this list or of anyone incorrectly cited here, please e-mail roger.white@tasb.org.


• Virginia McNairn, Walnut Bend ISD

• Lovie Whyte, Teague ISD

• Gloria Torres, Gonzales ISD

• Lynn Sperry, McKinney ISD

• Henrietta Orsak, Vysehrad ISD

• Jimmie Waller, Leverett’s Chapel ISD

• Vickie Morgan, Pasadena ISD

• Sheryl Sims, Murchison ISD

• Linda Pitts, Boles ISD

• Janet Brade, McDade ISD

• Portia Williams, Divide ISD

• Shirley Jordan, West Oso ISD

• Carol Bodwell, Princeton ISD

• Virginia Suarez, Temple ISD

• Ofelia Bosquez, Tornillo ISD

• Treon Erwin, Coolidge ISD

• Katie Reed, Northside ISD


• Cara Herlin, Palacios ISD (retired 2014)

• Carol Radford, Ricardo ISD (retired 2014)

• Madeleine Michalec, Vysehrad ISD (retired 2018)

• Evalyn Swan, Leverett’s Chapel ISD (retired 1991)

• Connie Steinberger, Windthorst ISD (retired 2008)

• Nancy Blackwell, Cuero ISD (retired 2009)

• Sue Crouch, Crowley ISD (retired 2005)

• Joyce Carlton, Centerville ISD (retired 2018)

• Linda Neeley, Alvarado ISD (retired 2017)

• Abbie Anderson, Terrell ISD (retired 2006)

• Hazel Hurd, Wharton ISD (retired 2015)

• Diana Rhodes, Nursery ISD (retired 2018)

• Donna Moody, Kountze ISD (retired 2018)

• Rosalie Graeter, Fayetteville ISD (retired 2008)

• Betsy Black Parsons, Albany ISD (retired 2019)

Roger White is managing editor of Texas Lone Star.
texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 13
Three Decades of Dedication

Critical Thinking Through Ag Education

Why Everyone Should Know Where Their Food Comes From—and How It Got on the Shelf

14 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org

Remember your most recent trip to the grocery store to buy tomatoes? Your shopping list probably said simply: “tomatoes.” But which kind? Organic, conventional, non-GMO, locally grown, grown in Mexico, imported from Canada? Heirloom, vine, grape, cherry, Roma, beefsteak?

To avoid being overwhelmed, you probably looked for the roundest and plumpest tomatoes, put them in your bag, and hoped you chose the best.

Now imagine you are grocery shopping with students enrolled in an agriculture education class.

Gina, a sophomore, may suggest heirloom tomatoes for a caprese salad so the flavor and texture will be front and center, but she would recommend red beefsteak for salad and Roma for a long-simmering tomato sauce.

Thomas, another student, explains the difference between organic, conventional, and non-GMO—all of which are perfectly safe to eat. Thomas might tell you every item of produce in the store must meet requirements set by the Food and Drug Administration, which manages science-based standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables for human consumption.

Gregory, a freshman, provides background on the imported Canadian tomatoes. These tomatoes are harvested in technologically advanced greenhouses developed in the Netherlands to grow food in crushed stone and coconut husks, all without soil. Sometimes, extra carbon dioxide is added to the air to promote faster growth.

Then Sarah, an eighth-grader, asks if you’d like to try a tomato grown in her award-winning aquaponics farm, a tank that raises both aquatic animals and plants—all sans soil.

These agricultural education students possess a competitive edge over their peers: critical thinking. While they are just as engaged in social media and rapid technology as their peers, their exposure to agricultural education provides skills that set them apart. They learn how to have a constructive debate—in person— about food production, precision farming, food supply chain developments, animal and worker welfare, and sustainability.

Most importantly, these students are aware of the global challenge to feed an additional 2 billion people in 30 years—and they will be leading the industry at that time. These students learn how to think critically and ask the relevant questions to help them make the best choices, from purchasing tomatoes to pursuing a career path.

Ag Ed and Life Skills

Agricultural science is about far more than agriculture. It teaches life skills and core concepts to serve students their entire lives, showing them real-world applications for science that open their minds to more dynamic problem-solving methods. Some agricultural science students will find jobs outside of agriculture and the food industry, but every one of them will grow up to buy food. The more they know about how to ask good questions, the better citizens they will be, whether they are tomorrow’s scientists, marketers, homemakers, or lawmakers. Can agricultural science influence the pursuit of a career path? Absolutely. I was a shy kid interested in livestock. As a freshman, I enrolled in my first agricultural education class and joined the Wichita Falls FFA chapter. During this time, I discovered my public speaking ability, which allowed me to engage in discussions on topics both big and small. I started to see that I could be bold and have the courage to speak up. As my confidence grew, I became a leader, eventually serving as a Texas FFA state officer.

The more our future leaders see that everything comes from somewhere, everything has a cost, and that every choice has an effect, the better they will be able to make strong decisions for a healthier world.
texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 15
Photo courtesy of Texas FFA

During my freshman year of college, I stayed local to help my family with the livestock and farming business and later transferred to Texas Tech University to continue pursuing agricultural science.

Ultimately, agricultural education impacted every career move I made, allowing me to work for some of the world’s largest food companies, including McDonald’s and Tyson Foods. Today, I lead sustainability policy for Tyson Foods, working with a team to develop targets that will help shape the future of food and define the food industry as a whole.

I’ve been fortunate to lead and support impactful and talented teams throughout my career because of the skills I began to develop in my first ag ed class. Critical thinking, teamwork, and devoting energy to the issues of cause and effect are more important now than ever, and helping young people develop those skills early is tremendously rewarding.

Back to those Tomatoes

Knowing every species of tomatoes may not be high priority for most people, but learning how, where, and why the tomato was grown, and who grew it, shows students that everything comes from somewhere.

Here’s an example: Let’s say Pete, a junior, believes organic tomatoes are safer to eat because his best friend eats organic. There is nothing wrong with wanting to buy and eat organic food, but Pete doesn’t completely understand why he eats organic; he just believes it’s safer because his friend

read something scary about pesticides. In his agricultural science class, Pete will learn about federal requirements for food safety and how both the organic and conventional tomatoes have each been stringently tested to ensure they are safe to eat.

If Pete still wants to eat organic tomatoes, that’s fine; because he is educated, he is now making an active choice, not passively reacting to marketing. Pete might buy organic because of an ingredient’s specific attributes, such as taste or texture, but now he is making a confident choice based on values he has developed independently and thoughtfully.

Marketing can make one item seem like a panacea and another nearly identical item seem dangerous, but most consumers are not objectively educated about where foods come from and how they end up on store shelves or a restaurant plate. Every consumer is interested in quality and value, but most don’t have the tools or knowledge to accurately judge the best option for his or her needs and wants.

America produces some of the highest-quality, safest, and most affordable food in the world. The more students understand the parameters that define quality and safety, the more they can appreciate the food they choose and the ways they arrive at those choices.

In agricultural science programs, students learn how to tell truth from fiction and separate catchy taglines from reality. They learn to think based on facts and how to analyze data to make their own decisions.

In agricultural science education, students learn to test information and theories with a fivestep process. They are encouraged to develop a mindset that questions, measures, tests, and questions again.
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Photo courtesy of Texas FFA

The Supply Chain

Why should students understand supply chain?

Food comes from the grocery store, right? Not quite. Agricultural education students learn that food doesn’t come from a box, but that there is a long path from the farm to table—one that involves various workers, technologies, marketers, retailers, equipment, and resources.

Consider the tomato again. Who are the people who brought it to the shelf, and who will handle it if it isn’t consumed? There are tomato growers and farmers, food processors, distributors, retailers, and even waste managers. That one tomato in your hand represents dozens of people, each with an important role to play.

Food supply chains are complex and intricate, and most consumers don’t have a clue where their food actually comes from. Agricultural education teaches students about the realities of food production, food safety, and the work that goes into converting a seed into the food on their kitchen tables. When these students step into the workforce, they are ahead of their peers in industrial knowledge.

Today’s students will be the ones making the big decisions tomorrow, with a bigger world population than ever before, and it’s essential that they learn how to see the big picture and analyze information in a way that works for the good of everyone. Business strategies are beginning to be shaped by not simply maintaining the bottom line but finding new ways to engineer smarter sustainability in the process. The supply chain is a big part of that, and these students will be the ultimate decision makers, whether they are buying food for their families, working for a food company, or drafting legislation.

Data and What It Means

Part of why I love my job is because I get to work with people who have vastly different perspectives. I work with passionate environmentalists one day and traditional and generational farmers the next. Everyone’s perspective has value, and it’s my job to listen to everyone, then find strategies that work for all.

Today, we have access to more data than any other time in human history. However, this can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, we can find data covering any topic and from any source, but most of us don’t know how to ask the right questions to weigh that data. Anyone can find a number to support his or her argument or idea with a few clicks, but not as many people think about which organization sponsored the research, which resources were used to source the data, and the goals and politics of the organizations involved.

In agricultural science education, students learn to test information and theories with a five-step process. When students take agricultural education courses, they are encouraged to develop a mindset that questions, measures, tests, and questions again. This is the pathway to true creative problem solving and critical thinking, and it supports the ability to reach stronger conclusions and communicate potential solutions.

The Sustainability Question

According to the United Nations 2019 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, the number of undernourished people in the world has been on the rise since 2015. There are currently about 7.7 billion people on the planet, and more than 820 million are hungry. According to UN statistics, the global population will reach about 9.7 billion by 2050 and 11 billion by 2100. If people are hungry now, what will it be like then?

Most people see it as a serious math problem—there is already a global food shortage, and unless we make some changes, more people will be hungry. The choices we make now about water use, soil health, transportation and emissions, and waste management will affect our future and that of the growing population in a profound way. The ultimate goal is to meet the needs of today without compromising future generations.

It’s not only important to bring the next generation into this conversation, it’s imperative—and agricultural education is a vital avenue to teach students how to approach these issues and prepare them for success. Ag education shows students how to understand the issues so they can challenge them appropriately, innovatively, and articulately.

Tomorrow’s leaders need to understand the importance of sustainability and its role in food production. The more our future leaders see that everything comes from somewhere, everything has a cost, and that every choice has an effect, the better they will be able to make strong decisions that create balance and solve challenges in a healthier world.

To learn more about agricultural education or the Texas FFA, visit texasffa.org.H

Justin Ransom, PhD, senior director of Sustainable Food Policy at Tyson Foods, is a member of the Texas FFA Board of Directors.

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 17

Join the Conversation

Grassroots Meetings Kick Off

TASB Advocacy Agenda Process

Although the 87th legislative session is a year away, TASB has already begun the process of developing its legislative priorities—and that starts with you.

The TASB Advocacy Agenda guides our advocacy efforts during the legislative session and beyond. The first step to building the Advocacy Agenda is to gather input from boards and individual members. An online survey was sent out in November 2019 that allowed members to identify local priorities for public education. Responses to the survey form the basis for discussion during step two in the process: face-to-face meetings involving school board members in each Education Service Center region of the state.

TASB invites all school trustees and superintendents to attend these TASB Grassroots Meetings and participate in the discussion. TASB Governmental Relations hosts the meetings throughout January and February 2020. The meetings allow board members to discuss local priorities as well as other topics important to the statewide education system, creating a regional list of priorities that will advance to the next step in the process.

TASB Governmental Relations staff will also provide a legislative update to help inform trustees about where important policy issues stand with regard to the Texas Legislature. Attendees may claim Tier 1 legislative update training credit or two hours of Tier 3 training credit. A list of Grassroots Meetings dates and locations is on page 16. You may also access the meeting schedule online at tasb.org/legislative/ events/grassroots-meetings/grassroots-meetings-schedule.


At the conclusion of each meeting, board members in attendance elect representatives to the TASB Legislative Advisory Council (LAC). Once the Grassroots Meetings are complete, LAC members convene in April and June to consider all regional priorities identified during the Grassroots Meetings and create one statewide list of priorities. The LAC also elects four of its members to serve as representatives to the TASB Legislative Committee.

The TASB Board of Directors then reviews the LAC’s recommendations prior to consideration and adoption by the TASB Delegate Assembly in September.


The Grassroots and LAC process to develop priorities is supplemented by a system that lets individual school boards submit advocacy resolutions that call for specific legislative changes. In April, TASB staff will call for boards to submit their advocacy resolutions and will review any submitted resolutions by July, when the TASB Resolutions Committee and TASB Board consider resolutions before making recommendations to the TASB Delegate Assembly for final approval. When the process is complete, TASB will have an up-to-date and comprehensive Advocacy Agenda of priorities and resolutions that will guide the Association as it works with the Legislature and state leaders in 2021.

Importance of Participation

TASB speaks for approximately 7,000 school board members when it shares its Advocacy Agenda with legislators and state leaders. If Grassroots Meeting attendance is strong and thousands of school board members participate in developing the agenda, it will strongly reflect the beliefs and opinions of the majority of the membership. If attendance at meetings is sparse or uneven, so will be the Advocacy Agenda.

It cannot be overemphasized: attendance and participation in your regional Grassroots Meeting is critical to developing a robust Advocacy Agenda and to assuring legislators that strong support exists for each advocacy priority and resolution.
18 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org

All school board members will not agree on every issue or policy choice, but strong participation in developing the Association’s priorities will ensure that the advocacy priorities that TASB will present to the Legislature are priorities around which the greatest consensus has formed. And adoption by hundreds of school board members at Delegate Assembly in 2020 further ensures strong support for the advocacy priorities.

Strongly held positions that fail to make it to the advocacy priority list, perhaps because they affect a small number of districts, can be brought into the Advocacy Agenda through the resolutions process. Local trustees will be in a good position to know what topics should be addressed via resolutions after attending regional meetings.

After the meetings are concluded, individual districts are encouraged to bring resolutions forward to the TASB Board of Directors, and the TASB Board sends its recommendations regarding those resolutions to the Delegate Assembly for review and adoption.

It cannot be overemphasized: attendance and participation in your regional Grassroots Meeting is critical to developing a robust Advocacy Agenda and to assuring legislators that strong support exists for each advocacy priority and resolution.

School board members from area districts discuss legislative priorities during a TASB Grassroots Meeting held in 2018 at the Region 12 Education Service Center. TASB File Photo The TASB Board, Delegate Assembly, and Association staff are eager and ready to support and represent you. Active involvement in the Grassroots Process is the best way to articulate what’s most important in your region and in your district.H
texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 19
Dax Gonzalez is division director of TASB Governmental Relations.

2020 Grassroots Meetings

For more information or for street addresses of specific meetings, visit tasb.org/legislative/events/ grassroots-meetings/grassroots-meetings-schedule.aspx

Region Date Location 1 February 13, 6-8 p.m. Region 1 ESC, Edinburg 2 January 23, 6-8 p.m. Region 2 ESC, Corpus Christi 3 February 4, 6-8 p.m. Region 3 ESC, Victoria 4 February 5, 6:30-8 p.m. Region 4 ESC, Houston 5 February 6, 6-8 p.m. Region 5 ESC, Beaumont 6 February 11, 6-8 p.m. Region 6 ESC, Huntsville 7 February 18, 6-8 p.m. Region 7 ESC, Kilgore 8 February 18, 6-8 p.m. Region 8 ESC, Pittsburg 9 February 26, 6-8 p.m. Region 9 ESC, Wichita Falls 10 February 12, 6-8 p.m. Region 10 ESC, Richardson 11 February 19, 6-8 p.m. Region 11 ESC, White Settlement 12 February 11, 6-8 p.m. Region 12 ESC, Waco 13 January 15, 6-8 p.m. TASB Headquarters, Austin 14 February 27, 6-8 p.m. Region 14 ESC, Abilene 15 February 4, 6-8 p.m. Region 15 ESC, San Angelo 16 January 16, 6:30-9 p.m. Region 16 ESC, Amarillo 17 February 13, 6:30-8 p.m. Region 17 ESC, Lubbock 18 January 28, 6-8 p.m. Sul Ross State University, Alpine 18 January 29, 6-8 p.m. Region 18 ESC, Midland 19 February 6, 6-8 p.m. Region 19 ESC, El Paso 20 February 20, 6-8 p.m. Region 20 ESC, San Antonio
20 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 21 ORDERPAYTOTHE OF FOR DOLLARS 2019 DATE $ Rebate TheLocalGovernmentPurchasingCooperativeNinety-sixthousandeighthundredsixty-threeandno/100 96,863.00 12/31/2019 YOURCOUNTY ORDER DOLLARS 2019 DATE $ Rebate The Local Government Purchasing Cooperative Ninety-six thousand eight hundred sixty-three and no/100 96,863.00 12/31/2019 YOUR COUNTY $ Rebate The Local Government Purchasing Cooperative Ninety-six thousand eight hundred sixty-three and no/100 96,863.00 12/31/2019 YOUR COUNTY PAYTOTHE ORDEROF FOR DOLLARS 2019 DATE $ Rebate TheLocalGovernmentPurchasingCooperativeeightynineTHOUSANDfivehundredANDno/100 $89,500 12/31/2019 YOURSCHOOLDISTRICT PAY THE ORDER DOLLARS 2019 $ Rebate The Local Government Purchasing Cooperative Seventy-five thousand three hundred forty-one and no/100 75,341.00 12/31/2019 YOUR school district ORDERPAYTOTHE DOLLARS 2019 DATE $ Rebate TheLocalGovernmentPurchasingCooperativeOnehundredninety-sixthousandseventy-sixandno/100 196,076.0012/31/2019 YOURCOUNTY Get rewarded for shopping. The more Texas school districts and governmental entities spend through BuyBoard, the more money they are eligible to receive at the end of the year. • $9.1 million in rebates delivered in 2018-19 alone • More than 970 members rebated • Over $58.8 million redistributed to members since 2006 Learn more at buyboard.com/texas-rebates. There’s only one BuyBoard. Endorsed by 2019–20 Business Recognition Program Thank local businesses and organizations for supporting Texas public schools. Submit names using the online form. Receive an individual presentation packet for each honoree . tasb.org/standingup • 800.580.8272
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Scott King

Canine Considerations

Legal Questions about Service Animals in Schools

Service animals seem to be everywhere these days, raising many practical and legal issues. In the public school context, state and federal laws govern whether a person has a right to use a service animal. In order to determine which rules apply, school officials must understand the basic legal landscape.

Following is a Q&A to help school district officials and trustees become better acquainted with issues involving service animals.

Q: What is a service animal?

A: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.1 The type of work that a service animal performs must be directly related to the person’s disability.2

with a service animal, including proof of certification, training, or licensure.4 State law also mandates that an assistance animal in training must not be denied access to any public facility when accompanied by an “approved” trainer; however, the law does not define who qualifies as an approved trainer.5 As such, districts should admit service animals in training as a general rule.

Requiring a person with a service animal to provide documentation may result in a claim of disability discrimination. The US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) determined that an Oregon school district discriminated against a parent with a service animal by requiring proof of insurance, vaccinations, and training documentation before she could continue to volunteer in her child’s classroom. OCR found that these requirements effectively excluded the parent based on her disability, and it ordered the district to allow the parent to

TASB Policy Service’s online Regulations Resource Manual or upon request.

Q: What questions can district employees ask about a service animal?

A: A district may not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability but may make two inquiries to determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal: (1) whether the animal is required because of a disability; and (2) what work or task the animal has been trained to perform. Nonetheless, a district may not make these inquiries when it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.7

In Texas, state laws define an assistance animal or service animal as a canine that is specially trained or equipped to help a person with a disability and that is used by a person with a disability.3

Q: Do service animals have to be specially certified or trained?

A: No. In fact, a district may not require documentation from a person

volunteer with her service animal unless it could cite to some legal justification to exclude the animal.6

While official documents are not necessary in order to establish a person’s right to use a service animal, a district may use reasonable forms in order to facilitate the practical aspects of bringing a service animal onto campus on a regular basis. Sample forms are available from

For example, if an animal is clearly acting as a seeing-eye dog, then district employees should not question the animal’s owner as a condition of granting access. If, however, the animal’s function is not obvious, a district employee may ask the two questions above.

Q: What access must be provided to an individual with a service animal?

A: Under the ADA, an individual with a service animal must be allowed

22 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org Legal News
Requiring a person with a service animal to provide documentation may result in a claim of disability discrimination.

to access all areas of a district’s facilities where members of the public or participants in services, programs, or activities are allowed to go.8 State law goes further, providing that no person with a disability may be denied admittance to any public facility because of the person’s disability or denied the use of an assistance animal.9 Service animals must be allowed on district vehicles, as well as other facilities.

Strictly speaking, only a trained dog meets the definition of a service animal under the ADA. However, the statute also requires public entities such as school districts to accommodate individuals who use miniature horses to assist with a disability.10 Four special factors apply when determining whether a miniature horse may be given access to a facility:

1. The type, size, and weight of the miniature horse and whether the facility can accommodate these features;

2. Whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse;

3. Whether the miniature horse is housebroken; and

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 23
Introducing Learn More tasb.org/student-solutions-tls studentsolutions@tasb.org 888.247.4829 Focus on what’s important. Our experienced staff can help you focus on building positive outcomes for your special populations through: • Solutions-focused review of all special populations programs
Data-based special education staffing analysis
Tailored capacity-building
Special education program operating procedures

4. Whether the miniature horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements.11

Q: Under what circumstances could a district deny access to a service animal?

A: District officials may ask an individual to remove a service animal from district property in two circumstances: (1) if the animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it; or (2) if the animal is not housebroken.12 The ADA does not require the district to accommodate an individual when he or she poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.13 The determination that an animal poses a

threat, however, should be made based on an individualized assessment relying on “current medical knowledge” or the “best available objective evidence.”14

A service animal should not be excluded based on assumptions about the animal’s size or breed but on observable evidence and verifiable medical concerns (such as a dog that appears to foam at the mouth, appearing rabid).

Q: How should service animals be treated?

A: Harassing, assaulting, harming, or interfering with animals is strictly prohibited.15 When a service animal will be present in a classroom setting, particularly among younger students, educators

may need to emphasize the difference between service animals and pets to ensure that students do not interfere with the animal’s work.

Q: What are the duties of the service animal’s owner to care for the service animal?

A: It is not the district’s responsibility to supervise a service animal or to provide for its care or feeding.16 A service animal must be under the control of its handler (usually the person with a disability) and must typically wear a harness, leash, or other tether.17 If the handler is unable to use a harness, leash, or other tether due to a disability or if the use of these items would interfere with the service animal’s

district. The TASB Benefits Cooperative can help you customize the benefits you offer. Since we’re carrier-neutral, you can choose the carriers that work best for your district. And your employees can choose the plans that work best for them. Benefits for everyone. benefits.firstpublic.com 800.558.8875
24 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org

Your Superintendent Evaluation Go-To

work, the service animal must be otherwise under the handler’s control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).18

Districts are prohibited from charging a person with a service animal a fee to access district facilities. However, a district may charge the individual for damages caused by the service animal.19 A district would be in a stronger legal position to do so if it has a general policy or practice of charging for damages to facilities, since it would be discriminatory to charge only people with service animals for damages.

Q: What if a student is not capable of handling a service animal? Is the district obligated to provide a staff member to assist the student with the animal?

A: In most situations, no. If a child is unable to handle a service animal, then typically the parents must provide a handler. If a handler is not provided, then the service animal can be prohibited from coming to school.20 An exception may apply if the district determines that the animal is necessary for a student with a disability to receive a FAPE (free appropriate public education).

In Florida, a school district was required to assign a staff member to assist a student with a service dog when the dog needed to urinate. Although the student had severe disabilities, the court determined that he could serve as a handler because the dog could be tethered to his wheelchair. Staff assistance was, therefore, required as a reasonable accommodation under Section 504 rather than as

“care and supervision,” which the ADA specifically states that districts are not required to provide.21

In a similar case, however, a court declined to order a New Hampshire school district to provide assistance, reasoning that the student, who was nonverbal and required assistance to walk, could not serve as the dog’s handler.22 School officials should consult with the district’s special education attorney when faced with this situation.

an anxiety attack, prevent compulsive or destructive behaviors, remind someone with an intellectual disability when to take medication, assist with balance or stability, and alert to the onset of a seizure or the presence of allergens.25 When in doubt, ask the two permitted questions. If the animal merely provides a general sense of comfort unrelated to a disability, then the animal does not meet the definition of a service animal under the ADA.

In the context of district employees

Q: What about “comfort animals”?23

A: The ADA specifically states that a service animal does not include an animal that is intended to increase an individual’s comfort or sense of well-being: “The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks.”24 Distinguishing between service animals and comfort animals is not always easy, however.

Just as the nature of a person’s disability is not always visible to outsiders, the task(s) that an animal is trained to perform may not be obvious. Dogs may be trained to calm an individual during

and students, the inquiry should not stop there. While emotional support animals are not service animals as defined by the ADA, they may be permitted as a reasonable accommodation under other law.26

For example, Title I of the ADA requires public employers to offer reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities and is silent as to service animals. (The detailed regulations for service animals come from Title II of the ADA, which addresses public facilities generally.) Thus, when an employee with a disability has a comfort animal, the district should engage in an interactive

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 25
Canine, page 34.) Could you use help with your superintendent evaluation process? TASB Board Development Services is here to assist.
While emotional support animals are not service animals as defined by the ADA, they may be permitted as a reasonable accommodation under other
Visit store.tasb.org for supporting printed publications.
Go to tasb.org/board-dev>Resources and click on Superintendent Evaluation.
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Contact us for in-person consulting. SERVICES FOR A BETTER BOARD, A BETTER COMMUNITY Visit tasb.org/board-dev and navigate to Consulting for more information. board.dev@tasb.org • 800.580.8272
Development Services

A Q&A on Senate Bill 65 Disclosure Information About the Lobbying Letter

TASB members received in December 2019 a letter from State Representative Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville), asking for disclosure of information under Senate Bill 65 (see the press statement from Middleton’s office at tasb.org/services/ legal-services/documents/middleton-request.pdf).

Middleton’s letter basically asks for two types of information: (1) disclosures about lobbying if the district has a consulting contract with a state agency; and (2) the district’s 1295 Disclosure of Interested Parties forms from June 14, 2019, to present.

TASB Legal Services has advised school districts to treat the request for records as a public information request. Each district that received the request should examine its own records to determine whether it has responsive records and reply to the representative’s office, in consultation with legal counsel as necessary.

Lobbying Disclosures

The 86th Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 65, which amends state agency procurement laws to require any political subdivision, including a school district, that has ever contracted with a state agency for “consulting services” to disclose and itemize details of the political subdivision’s lobbying activities.

A consulting service contract is defined as “the service of studying or advising a state agency under a contract….” (Tex. Gov’t Code §2254.021(1)) TASB believes a school district is not likely to have a consulting services contract that includes a state agency as a party, but districts should review their records to be sure.

1295 Disclosures

Since 2015, business entities have been required to file a Form 1295 Certificate of Interested Parties disclosure before the district can enter into a contract with that business entity that: (1) is approved by the board; or (2) has a value of at least $1 million.

In addition, after Senate Bill 65, business entities must file a 1295 form before the district may enter into a contract for services that would require a person to register as a lobbyist.

Below is a brief Q&A to provide more information about concerns districts may have regarding Senate Bill 65 and 1295 disclosures.

Q: Does Senate Bill 65 relate to membership with TASB?

A: No. TASB membership is not implicated in the state agency consultant contract procurement laws. Disclosure of lobbying activities could be required if a district has ever entered into such a contract with a state agency.

TASB also does not enter into contracts for lobbying services with its members. Your TASB membership fees pay for your school board’s membership in an association that offers many benefits, including nonpartisan legislative information and advocacy.

TASB’s Advocacy Agenda is developed at the regional level by school board members and is publicly available online (tasb.org/legislative/tasb-advocacy-agenda/2018-20-agenda.aspx). Board

26 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org Capital Watch
TASB Legal Services has advised school districts to treat the request for records as a public information request.

members can register now to attend one of 20 regional Grassroots Meetings, at which the 2020–22 Advocacy Agenda will be developed (see page 16).

Q: Didn’t TASB send us something about lobbying already?

A: Yes. To assist districts in complying with a new requirement from another law—House Bill 1495—TASB provided members with information on the amount of membership fees used in 2019 and projected to be used in 2020 for advocacy.

Q: Should our district have a 1295 form from TASB?

A: School boards do not enter into written contracts for membership with TASB. Consequently, TASB has not filed Form 1295 with the Texas Ethics Commission. However, if you would like TASB to complete a Form 1295 disclosure, contact TASB Director of Board and Management Services Kelly Panfilli at kelly.panfilli@ tasb.org H

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 27
TASB’s leading conference on governance research and how school boards affect student achievement Visit TASB’s Member Center at tasb.org/xg to learn more about the XG Summit. Save the Date! exceptional governance the summit ® November 9–10, 2020 Austin RSVP at tasb.org/texasbreakfast by March 25. While the breakfasts are free, reservations are required. Join TASB for the Texas Breakfasts at the NSBA Annual Conference April 4–6 Chicago Texas attendees are invited to enjoy complimentary breakfasts Saturday, April 4, and Sunday, April 5, 7–8:30 a.m., at the Marriott Marquis Chicago.

‘Alexa, Help Me Study’

Voice-Activated Assistant Finds Footing in Education

Four and a half years after Amazon first released Alexa, its voiceactivated virtual assistant, the technology is finding its footing in education.

Across the massive, brightly colored expo hall at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2019 Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, recently, several vendors showcased the new skills they have developed for Alexa-enabled devices.

The nonprofit ACT, which is bestknown for its standardized college entrance test, privately demonstrated its new skill on an Amazon Echo Dot. The ACT Assistant, which provides general information about the exam and can help students prepare for the test, will be available to the public this fall.

“Alexa, why should I take the ACT?”, “Alexa, how much does it cost to take the ACT?”, and “Alexa, when is the next ACT test date?”, the ACT Assistant can help families explore those questions together, Polyak explained.

And when students are ready, they can begin to prepare for the test, working through all subject materials and topic areas, with videos and other tutorials available just as they are online through students’ ACT Academy accounts, Polyak added.

In Kahoot!

Kahoot!, a game-based learning company with a trove of educational quizzes, also announced its first Alexa skill recently. On the exhibit floor at the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia, company

On the Frontline

Frontline Education, which makes software to help school administrators with hiring, teacher management, and professional development, announced last summer that it was working with Amazon to create a voice-activated skill by early 2019. At ISTE, the company confirmed that the skill will be available to a general audience for the coming school year.

Steve Polyak, who leads the nonprofit’s research innovation development group, says ACT developed the ACT Assistant after realizing they had an opportunity to reach people where they are.

“This device is sitting in millions of people’s homes,” Polyak said, “so parents and learners—their children—who are having conversations about ‘It’s time to take the ACT’ can ask questions right from where the conversation is taking place.”

By answering such inquiries as

officials previewed a limited version, which currently allows users to choose among words, numbers, or countries. It then provides true-or-false statements for users to answer, such as “Rio de Janeiro is the capital of Brazil. True or false.”

When the Kahoot! version is released to the public later this year, it will have “more functionality and categories,” a company spokesperson said, but it will not feature the millions of quizzes that the company has in its app.

A representative at Frontline’s booth demonstrated the skill by asking an Echo to announce teacher absences for the day, whether any classrooms needed a substitute teacher, and if there were any urgent forms to sign. The skill provides administrators with a daily report of need-toknow information and even allows teachers to tell Alexa if they are sick and unable to make it to school that day.

‘Game Show’ Study Sessions

These demos come just one year after an Amazon representative said—at the same conference—that Alexa should not be used in the classroom due to privacy and compliance issues.

But that warning hasn’t stopped some educators, including Alli Flowers,

28 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
Technology Today
Students can work through all subject materials and topic areas, with videos and other tutorials available just as they are online through students’ ACT Academy accounts.

a technology coach at Alabama’s Mobile County Public Schools who presented at ISTE about how she has helped teachers in her district bring Alexa into their classrooms.

At ISTE previously, Flowers says she was disappointed that she did not hear about more innovative ways to use Alexa with students other than as a timer during test-taking or for randomly calling on a student in class. “I thought, ‘There’s got to be more,’” Flowers told EdSurge.

Then Flowers learned how to develop her own Alexa skills using Amazon Blueprints, a website that allows users to build custom apps on the voice-enabled devices. Her passion project took off from there. Now she has taught teachers how to use it across grade levels and subjects—from kindergarten to 12th grade, from math to social studies.

One of her favorite ways is to use Echo Dot smart speakers as buzzers, which allow students to review test material in a game show environment. “It’s brand new to use it this way,” Flowers said. “It’s beautiful.”

The school has paid for the devices, which cost between $30 to $40, and

there’s nearly one in every classroom, she said. In the classroom, Echo Dots are connected to the teacher’s account, but the skills he or she creates—such as fourthgrade Revolutionary War review—are shared with students’ individual accounts.

‘Everybody Loves Alexa’

Despite worries raised and lawsuits filed over how Alexa devices might listen in on users and store and share data, Flowers says neither she nor her students’ parents are concerned about the privacy implications, because she believes the skills she develops are private and cannot be accessed by anyone else.

“Everybody loves [Alexa], and everybody wants to be able to use it in the classroom, especially when they already have one at home,” Flowers said. And everyone is going to be using it for education soon, she predicts.H

Emily Tate is the K-12 reporter for EdSurge, a media outlet that covers the future of learning through news and research. This article was originally published on EdSurge and is reprinted with permission. Copyright 2019-20 by EdSurge. All rights reserved.

May 1, 2020 | Round Rock, Texas

Pre-Conference: April 30, 2020

Registration opens: February 1, 2020


texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 29

Are You Prepared? Emergency Plans Highlight NTAASB Meeting

Emergency preparedness was the key topic of the North Texas Area Association of School Boards meeting November 6, 2019, at Coppell ISD’s Coppell Middle School West. Trustees, superintendents, and staff gathered to listen to Janina Flores, division director of TASB Risk Solutions, and Melanie Moss, emergency management and school security consultant for TASB Risk Management.

The presentation, titled “Is Your District Prepared to Respond to a Crisis,” centered on understanding the “why” of emergency preparedness: relevant statutes, elements of an effective emergency operation plan, how to assess

the plan, and how to implement the plan.

Texas Education Code Chapter 37 (Safe Schools) authorizes the Texas School Safety Center to oversee the development of emergency operation plans, presenters noted, adding that each school district is required to have a safety and security program in place.

Additionally, Texas Education Code Chapter 418 relates to emergency management plans that complement Chapter 37. Both codes are required to be included in local school district policies.

Five Phases

The presenters further identified five

phases of an emergency management plan: (1) preparedness; (2) prevention; (3) response; (4) recovery; and (5) mitigation. The first phase, preparedness, includes four parts: planning, training, exercising, and improving.

Every district is required to have a safety and security committee composed of specific members: county/city emergency management, local police or sheriff, school district police (if applicable), board president, board member, superintendent or designee, teacher, and parent.

Each campus is required to have a threat assessment team that consists of representatives from the fields of mental health, safety, law enforcement, special education, and classroom management.

Presenters noted that under Senate Bill 11, new emergency operations plans require the following features:

• Adding prevention to the phases of emergency management

• Including substitute teachers in emergency training

• Including communication drills with substitutes and other faculty and staff

• Instituting a chain of command and lines of succession

• Emphasizing physical and psychological safety

• Emphasizing special needs

• Including emergency notification to parents

30 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
& Events
Members of the North Texas Area Association of School Boards listen to a presentation on emergency preparedness at the group’s November 2019 meeting in Coppell ISD. Photo courtesy of NTAASB

Five Questions

Districts were encouraged to begin development of hazard-specific and functional annexes that meet the needs of each district, such as a hazardous materials annex and a public health and medical plan annex.

TASB’s Flores and Moss concluded the presentation with five questions that trustees should ask regarding emergency preparedness:

• Who is involved in the emergency management program and planning process?

• When was the district’s emergency operations plan last revised?

• What training is being provided to staff?

• Are the appropriate drills and exercises being performed in accordance with state standards?

• Are the appropriate “after actions” being performed in accordance with state standards?H

Anthony Hill, a Coppell ISD trustee, is 2019-20 treasurer of the NTAASB.

Recruiting Education Leaders to Chart the Future of Schools

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

• Breckenridge ISD. Superintendent Application deadline: February 18.

• Buckholts ISD. Superintendent Deadlines to be determined.

• Del Valle ISD. Superintendent Application deadline: February 4.

• Goliad ISD. Superintendent Application deadline: February 3.

• Southside ISD. Superintendent Deadlines to be determined.

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

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.


Sanger ISD

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 ess.tasb.org or call 800.580.8272, ext. 3690.

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 31

Head of the Class

Twenty-six Texas Schools Earn Blue Ribbon Honors

Twenty-six Texas public schools nominated by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) have been awarded National Blue Ribbon Schools honors for 2019, the US Department of Education announced.

The following schools received Blue Ribbon honors either as Exemplary High-Performing Schools or Exemplary Achievement-Gap-Closing Schools. Each school has an economically disadvantaged population of 30.9 percent or greater.

Exemplary High-Performing Schools

• Putegnat Elementary School, Brownsville ISD

• Griffis Elementary School, Caddo Mills ISD

• Sanders Law Magnet School, Dallas ISD

• Walnut Hill Elementary School, Dallas ISD

• Dublin Elementary School, Dublin ISD

• George West Primary School, George West ISD

• Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy, Grand Prairie ISD

• Field Elementary School, Houston ISD

• Project Chrysalis Middle School, Houston ISD

• Sam Houston Elementary School, McAllen ISD

• Garwood Elementary School, Rice CISD

• Emma Vera Elementary School, Roma ISD

• Lucas Elementary School, Valley View ISD

Exemplary Achievement-GapClosing Schools

• Hudson Elementary School, Brownsville ISD

• Jack Lowe Sr. Elementary School, Dallas ISD

• Hawkins Elementary School, Hawkins ISD

• Hidalgo Park Elementary School, Hidalgo ISD

• Idea Quest College Preparatory, Idea Public Schools

• Chapa Elementary School, La Joya ISD

• Zachry Elementary School, Laredo ISD

• Dovalina Elementary School, Laredo ISD

• Ryan Elementary School, Laredo ISD

• Martin Elementary School, Laredo ISD

• Escobar/Rios Elementary School, Mission CISD

• Zaffirini Elementary School, United ISD

• Valley View North Elementary School, Valley View ISD

‘Outstanding Work’

The schools were recognized by the US Department of Education at an awards ceremony in Washington, DC, in November 2019.

“I want to commend the outstanding work of our educators and congratulate this year’s Blue Ribbon honorees,” said Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath. “Achieving the status of a Blue Ribbon school reflects the hard work taking place within our classrooms, and it shows that schools with high levels of poverty can, and do, perform exceptionally well.”

Since 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools program has recognized public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subpopulation groups while maintaining high achievement levels among all students. For more information about the Blue Ribbon Schools program, visit the US Department of Education’s website at www2.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/index. html H

32 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
TASB Board Development Services offers a wide range of teambuilding options to help you: • Focus on student outcomes • Assess your performance and plan for improvement • Clarify roles and working relationships • Develop and monitor vision and goals • Improve community relations BOARD DEVELOPMENT SERVICES: YOUR DISTRICT. WE DELIVER. Visit tasb.org/board-dev and navigate to Consulting for more information. board.dev@tasb.org • 800.580.8272 Strengthen and unify your board team!
Board Development Services

The School Official’s Guide to the Texas Open Meetings Act

Encourage Public Ed Supporters: Vote!

The year 2020 is an important election year, and supporters of public education are urged to get out the vote. Primaries are March 3, so the time is now to encourage those you know to participate.

The Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports initiatives to improve public education, offers these action plans:

1. Make a plan to vote—and help others do the same. People are busy and may not be familiar with the process of voting. Making a vote plan—in which a person commits not just to voting but identifies a date, time, and place for doing so—is helpful for ensuring that good intentions turn into concrete actions. A 2010 study of over 287,000 voters found that people who made a vote plan were 4.1 percent more likely to vote, and that number jumped to 9.1 percent for those living in single-voter households.

2. Let your neighbors know that you are a voter who supports public education. During election season, many front yards fill up with signs for particular candidates. Share your support for public schools, no matter what your party or candidate preference is, with an “I support public education, and I vote” yard sign available from Raise Your Hand Texas. For more information, contact a Raise Your Hand regional advocacy

Important Dates for the March 3 Primary:

• February 3—Last Day to Register to Vote

• February 18–28—Early Voting

• March 3—Election Day

director at raiseyourhandtexas.org/ about/staff/.

3. Attend a candidate forum or town hall near you. Learn what candidates are saying about important public education issues around the state by attending one of 40+ candidate forums or town halls. Lawmakers respond to the issues their constituents care about. One way to let every candidate, challenged or unchallenged, know that we want public education to continue to be a top priority for the Texas Legislature is by showing up at one of these events. You can find a list of all events and RSVP at https://advocacy.raiseyourhandtexas. org/events

These resources and more information can be found at VoteTxEd.org.

Note that TASB does not endorse any candidate or platform and does not align itself with any political party or affiliation.H

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 33 Legal Services
An informative desk reference that includes a comprehensive explanation of the OMA and how it applies to school districts. To order, call 800.580.8272, extension 3613, or visit store.tasb.org

process with the employee and consider whether to allow the comfort animal as a reasonable accommodation. If not, the district should offer an alternative accommodation. It may be necessary to explain to the employee that Title I of the ADA does not require an employer to grant the specific accommodation requested.

Similarly, when a student has a service or comfort animal, the district should consider whether the animal is necessary in order to provide a FAPE under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA).27 In 2008, OCR found that a California district violated the ADA and Section 504 by failing to consider the impact on whether a student would receive a FAPE before excluding the student’s dog from school.28

In another case, a federal court in Arkansas refused to issue an order requiring a district to allow a student with anxiety attacks to bring a service animal to school because the student’s 504 team had determined that the dog was not a

reasonable accommodation under the circumstances.29

While the legal outcome of a complaint in this area is uncertain, decisions about accommodations for students with disabilities should clearly go through the IDEA or 504 process.

Q: What if other people are allergic to the service animal?

A: Allergies or fear of animals are generally not valid reasons to deny a service animal.30 The US Department of Justice advises that if a person afraid or allergic to a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility as a person who uses a service animal, such as might occur in a classroom, both individuals should be accommodated by

Ready for tax season?

assigning them to different rooms in the same facility or different locations in the room.31

Educators and administrators must find a way to meet both needs in this tricky situation. The district should attempt to find a solution that does not penalize either the person with the service animal or the person with fears or allergies.


Faced with these complex issues, Texas school officials may well agree with the notion that, “[o]ne person’s emotional support can be another person’s emotional trauma.”32 When in doubt, have an open mind, keep channels of communication open, and don’t forget to seek legal advice when things get hairy.H

34 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
Distributed by First Public is a subsidiary of As tax time draws near, you will be challenged with the task of collecting and investing state funding and local property tax dollars. The Lone Star Investment Pool’s State and Local Direct Deposit Program allows you to: • Streamline the tax collection process • Invest funds immediately • Eliminate collateral requirements imposed by banks • Set up easily with your county appraisal district • Avoid unnecessary faxing through use of online platform We can give you the support you need. 800.558.8875 customer.service@firstpublic.com firstpublic.com/lonestar
Canine (from page 25)
Allergies or fear of animals are generally not valid reasons to deny a service animal. The district should attempt to find a solution that does not penalize either the person with the service animal or the person with fears or allergies.

128 C.F.R. §§ 35.104, .136(i).

228 C.F.R. § 35.104.

3Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 121.002(1).

428 C.F.R. § 35.136(f).

5See HB 489, 83rd Leg., R.S., §§ 2, 3, amending Tex. Hum. Res. Code §§121.002(1), .003(i).

6Hillsboro (OR) Sch. Dist. 1J, 59 IDELR 82 (OCR 2012).

728 C.F.R. § 35.136(f); Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 121.003(l).

828 C.F.R. § 35.136(b).

9Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 121.003(c), (e), (i).

1028 C.F.R. § 35.136(i).

1128 C.F.R. § 35.136(i).

1228 C.F.R. § 35.136(b).

1328 C.F.R. § 35.139; see Rose v. Springfield-Greene County Health Dept., 668 F. Supp. 2d 1206 (W.D. Mo. 2009) (holding that monkey was not a service animal and Health Department conducted an individualized assessment to determine that it posed a health and safety threat).

1428 C.F.R. § 36.208(c); see also Pena v. Bexar County, 726 F. Supp. 2d 675, (discussing application of Title III regulations to a public entity’s duty to accommodate individuals with service animals under Title II.)

15Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 121.002, .003(j).

1628 C.F.R. § 35.136(e).

1728 C.F.R. § 35.136(d); Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 121.005.

1828 C.F.R. § 35.136(d).

1928 C.F.R. § 35.136(h).

20See 28 C.F.R. § 35.136(d).

21Alboniga ex rel. A.M. v. Sch. Bd. of Broward Cnty., Florida, 87 F. Supp. 3d 1319 (S.D. Fla. 2015).

22Riley v. Sch. Admin. Unit #23, Civil No. 15-cv-152-SM, 2016 WL 183525 (D.C.N.H. Jan. 14, 2016).

23In this article, the terms “comfort animal” and “emotional support animal” mean the same thing (i.e., not a service animal).

2428 C.F.R. § 35.104.

2528 C.F.R. § 35.104; see e.g. K.D. v. Villa Grove Comm. Unit Sch. Dist. No. 302 Bd. of Educ., 936 N.E. 2d 690 (Ill. App. 2010) (affirming under state law that dog was service animal individually trained to perform tasks for benefit of autistic elementary school student, including preventing student from running away, calming during temper tantrums and promoting individual mobility.)

26See Fed. Reg., Vol. 75, No. 178 at 56166 (Sept. 15, 2010) (citing Overlook Mutual Homes, Inc. v. Spencer 666 F. Supp. 2d 850 (S.D. Ohio 2009) for the proposition that “emotional support animals that do not qualify as service animals under the Department’s title II regulations may nevertheless qualify as permitted reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities” under the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carriers Access Act).

27See 20 U.S.C. § 1401(9); 34 C.F.R. § 300.17 (generally defining FAPE under IDEA as special education and related services provided at public expense in accordance with a student’s IEP); also see 34 C.F.R. § 104.33(a) (requiring a recipient of federal funds that operates a public education program to provide a FAPE to each qualified person with a disability in the entity’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the person’s disability.)

28Bakersfield (CA) City Sch. Dist., 50 IDELR 169 (OCR 2008).

29Pettus ex rel. K.P. v. Conway Sch. Dist., CASE NO. 4:18-CV—00872 BSM, 2019 WL 1109685 (E.D. Ark. Jan. 2, 2019).

30See Doe v. U.S. Sec’y of Transp., 17-CV-7868 (CS), 2018 WL 6411277 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 4, 2018) (finding no duty to provide a dog-free school for student with allergies).

31See U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, 2010 ADA Guidance at www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

32Marx, Patricia, “Pets Allowed,” The New Yorker (Oct. 20, 2014).

Sarah Orman is a TASB Legal Services lead attorney.

Preparing to Serve: A Webinar for School Board

Learn the difference between board and staff responsibilities, how to campaign constructively, and where to find information about being a candidate in this FREE webinar.

Dates and times: February 6, 2020 | noon–1 p.m. August 6, 2020 | noon–1 p.m.

To register, go to tasb.org/board-dev> Training>Webinars

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 35
Thinking about serving on your local school board?
Visit tasb.org/board-dev and navigate to Resources for more information, including: • Free candidate workshop available online at onlinelearning.tasb.org
2020 Guide for School Board Candidates
Links to state election resources board-dev@tasb.org• 800.580.8272 SERVICES FOR A BETTER BOARD, A BETTER COMMUNITY Board Development Services

Breakfast for Student Success Data Shows that Students Who Aren’t Hungry Do Better

School boards have many ways they support student success. Whether it is adopting strong district policies, approving budgets to hire the best staff, or supporting 21st-century learning spaces, each factor plays its part to ensure that Texas students graduate and effectively enter the workforce or higher education. One program that benefits students is school breakfast, particularly when it is taken out of the cafeteria.

Most Texas schools already serve breakfast through the federally funded School Breakfast Program, which is required by law for schools that have at least a 10 percent free-and-reduced-price student population. However, many schools still offer only the traditional model of breakfast served in the cafeteria before the start of school. This model misses many kids, including those who may need it the most.

Alternative Breakfast Models

Kids skip school breakfast for a variety of reasons. Some students arrive at school just before the first bell and don’t have time to go to the cafeteria. Some students may view school breakfast as being only for the “poor kids” and are ashamed of the stigma it casts. Others, especially teens, aren’t hungry first thing in the morning. By taking advantage of alternative breakfast models such as Breakfast in the Classroom, Breakfast After the Bell, or Grab and Go Breakfast, schools can avoid these issues.

Schools can also pair an alternative breakfast model with funding methods such as the Community Eligibility Provision or Provision 2 to provide breakfast to all students on a campus at no cost. By combining the two, schools will allow many more kids to eat breakfast.

Since 2010, No Kid Hungry, a campaign run by the nonprofit Share Our Strength organization, has worked with school districts across the country to help them fund and implement these alternative models.

In Texas alone, No Kid Hungry Texas has added 250,000 students to the school breakfast program. This is critical because almost one in four Texas kids lives in a food-insecure home, meaning they aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from. A healthy school breakfast helps level the playing field for them.

Nutrition Equals Success

School breakfast does more than just feed a hungry child. It also fuels the brain. Data shows that kids who eat breakfast in the morning attend more days of school, see the school nurse less often, have fewer behavior problems, have higher test scores, and are more likely to graduate on time. These meals are also good for parents. Busy parents may not have the time

or resources every morning to ensure that their kids have breakfast at home. They also know that their kids may fill in the gap with unhealthy snacks later in the day. A healthy breakfast at school provided to all students addresses these issues.

No Kid Hungry Texas works with school districts and community organizations across the state to help ensure that every child receives three meals a day. No Kid Hungry Texas can provide grants and technical assistance to help implement alternative breakfast models in Texas school districts. For more information, visit nokidhungry.org/.H

Kathy Green is the director of No Kid Hungry Texas.

TASB Facility Services

36 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
Learn more at facility.tasb.org. Facility Services
We help districts make informed decisions that keep facilities running now and into the future.

‘Building a New Team’ Leadership TASB 2020 Kicks Off Year of Training


As the 2019 TASA|TASB Convention commenced at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, 36 strangers gathered on September 19, 2019, to discover how the year’s Leadership TASB theme of “Building a New Team” would apply to serving on their local school boards.

Our cohort consists of 36 members from across the state. Our districts and our experiences are as varied as this vast state, yet our commitment to strong public education for the students of Texas is the same.

Getting Underway

Like classes before us, we benefited from meeting past Leadership TASB graduates and learning about their experiences by visiting with them at our graduate panel and the Leadership TASB reunion and celebration. The context and application of what we are embarking upon, along with the ongoing high value former class members place upon their experience, were informative and encouraging.

During our initial session, we began work on our yearlong group project. This year’s teams are each tackling a leadership publication; our outcomes will include a scholarly review, including the concepts in each team’s book that we either support or refute based upon other leadership literature and how the book’s concepts can be applied to leadership through a school board trustee lens. Groups will be selected to present at the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) in San Antonio to share our work.

‘Art of Small Talk’

The 2020 class had the distinct honor of being the benefactors of the final Leadership TASB presentation by esteemed leadership expert Pete DeLisle. DeLisle discussed the leadership model that focuses on each of our leadership charac-

teristics and how those intersect along the “innovators-to-adapters” continuum.

Being able to identify ourselves and others along the continuum and to see how ability, awareness, and commitment are manifest make each of us better leaders and teammates in our class, on our school boards, and in our lives.

Author Debra Fine’s session about the “fine art of small talk” helped us learn about and practice reframing a conversation, how to exit a difficult conversation gracefully, and ways that we can put those with whom we’re conversing at ease.

We were equipped with several easy conversation starters to pick up where we left off in a previous social setting and to allow anyone in the room to engage with us with more than a “dead-end conversation about the weather.”

‘We over Me’

Our class was joined by many Leadership TASB alumni for a field trip to Paul Quinn College in Dallas. College President Michael Sorrell shared the rich and

challenging history of the college and the campus culture of “we over me” that has not only kept the doors open but allowed the college to emerge as a force for change in higher education.

Paul Quinn College is creatively and strategically recruiting students and holding them accountable to “leave places better than they found them, lead from wherever you are, live a life that matters, and love something greater than yourself.” Our time on the campus was inspiring. The remainder of our cohort’s time together this year will allow us to learn from and explore school districts in and around the cities of Houston, Austin, and El Paso before we wrap up in June 2020 at SLI. While we began our year together as strangers, there is little doubt that our experiences, shared learning, and connections will bring about friendships and invaluable networks as we serve the students of Texas.H

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 37
Nichole Bentley, Coppell ISD Board secretary, is a member of the Leadership TASB Class. Pete DeLisle, chair of Leadership Studies at Austin College, engages the Leadership TASB Class of 2020 at the group’s initial session September 19, 2019, in Dallas. Photo by TASB Media Services

Ideas and Inspiration

CTSBA Focuses on College Readiness, ‘New Collar Jobs’

Industry experts and representatives from the State Board of Education, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), Austin Community College (ACC), and Friends of Texas Public Schools addressed members of the Central Texas School Boards Association (CTSBA) at the group’s fall 2019 meetings in Austin.

Trustees and school leaders from more than a dozen school districts gathered at the Region 13 Education Service Center in November to discuss college readiness, how industry evaluates workforce certificates, and the creation of “new collar jobs,” which require more than a high school diploma but less than a college degree and provide an option for districts looking for new ways to address skills gaps.

Behavioral Skills Emphasis

Suzanne Morales-Vale, director of Developmental and Adult Education for the THECB, defined college readiness as the “ability to successfully complete a freshman-level college course without remediation.” She noted that Texas Success Initiative assessment scores for reading, writing, and math are strong indicators of whether a student is prepared for college.

Don Tracy, from ACC’s Continuing Education Division, noted that education should change the conversation around STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) to focus more on “TEAMS.”

Sandy Dochen, manager of Corporate Social Responsibility for IBM, echoed Tracy’s suggestions, presenting a workforce study by IBM’s Institute for Business Value that showed required workforce skills are rapidly morphing from jobspecific to behavioral.

“In 2016, executives ranked technical core capabilities for STEM and basic computer and software/application skills as the top two most critical skills for employees,” Dochen said. “In 2018, the top two skills sought were behavioral skills—willingness to be flexible, agile, and adaptable to change and time management skills and ability to prioritize.”

Dochen also updated the group on vocational education’s “21st-century reboot” through P-TECH programs, concluding that P-TECH partnerships require a three-pronged commitment from high schools, community colleges, and businesses in order to succeed. P-TECH—Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools—is an openenrollment program coordinated by the Texas Education Agency, Texas Worforce Commission, and THECB designed to provide students with work-based education.

State Board Update

At the December CTSBA meeting, State Board of Education member Tom

Maynard reviewed the State Board’s November agenda and provided information about the Permanent School Fund. Maynard answered questions on how fund allocations impact the instructional materials allotment.

Additionally, Leslie and Scott Milder, founders of Friends of Texas Public Schools, presented facts and figures about the great things happening in public schools. Their presentation provided a new lens through which to view the successes of our teachers, students, and the public education system.H

38 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
Amber Elenz, Austin ISD Board secretary, is a member of the Central Texas School Boards Association. Suzanne Morales-Vale, director of Developmental and Adult Education for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, discussed college readiness and assessment at the November 2019 CTSBA meeting at the Region 13 Education Service Center. Photo courtesy of CTSBA

SPASB Members Receive Legislative Update, Training

TASB Governmental Relations

Division Director Dax Gonzalez provided a legislative update for approximately 90 members of the South Plains Association of School Boards (SPASB) at the group’s fall meeting October 22, 2019, at the Region 17 Education Service Center (ESC) in Lubbock.

Gonzalez’s presentation, titled “Catching Up with the Texas Legislature,” featured up-to-date information on results of the 86th legislative session and effects the session will have on Texas schools.

SPASB members received two hours of board training credit for attending the meeting, which was followed by an association business meeting. At the close of the business meeting, a drawing was held for two door prizes of $50 each, which were won by Rusty Gibson of Levelland ISD and Brian White of Patton Springs ISD. Additionally, Slate May of Tahoka ISD received a free registration to TASB’s 2020 Governance Camp, scheduled for February 26-29 in Galveston.

The next SPASB meeting is set for February 13 in conjunction with the TASB Grassroots Meeting at the Region 17 ESC.H

TASB Launches Student Solutions

TASB Student Solutions, a new service area focused on assisting districts with better serving special populations, was recently launched by TASB. The experienced Student Solutions team is dedicated to helping districts stay on top of best practices, compliance, and training regarding special populations programs.

Staff draw on decades of real-world experience and have certifications in special education, Section 504, English language learners, gifted and talented, and school administration/leadership. Learn more at tasb.org/student-solutions-tls.H

HR Services offers web-based confidential surveys tailored to your needs:

• Employee engagement and opinion surveys

• Employee exit surveys

• Customer satisfaction surveys for HR and other departments

Save Big on Electricity

Lock in low prices on your district’s energy through the PowerBuy ® platform, a wholesale marketplace where sellers compete for your business. Achieve greater budget certainty with one of the largest electricity aggregators in the state of Texas.

Get started saving at energy.tasb.org

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texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 39
Measure employee engagement

Bulletin Board

Bryce Receives Golden Deeds Award

In November 2019, retired Highland Park ISD Superintendent Cathy Bryce joined a group of distinguished Texans when she received the Golden Deeds Award, considered among the most coveted awards in the field of Texas education.

Cosponsored by Texas A&M University’s Department of Educational Administration and Human Resource Development and the Texas Association of School Administrators, the Golden Deeds Award is presented annually to an individual from any profession who has, through actions and deeds, improved the educational system in Texas to enrich the lives of all Texas public school students. Recipients are nominated by a committee of school district superintendents from across Texas.

Bryce began her 33-year education career as a choir and English teacher, eventually serving as a high school assistant principal, middle school principal, director of curriculum and instruction, and assistant and deputy superintendent on her path to becoming the superintendent of Weatherford ISD and later Highland Park ISD. In 2000, she was Texas’s nominee for AASA National Superintendent of the Year Award.

“Cathy Bryce exemplified superior leadership in all of her administrative positions,” wrote her nominator. “Her performance in Weatherford and Highland Park ISDs as superintendent resulted in them becoming better places to work and, more importantly, better places for students to learn.”

Bryant Chosen as National Nominee

Lubbock-Cooper ISD Superintendent

Keith Bryant, winner of the 2019 Texas Superintendent of the Year Award, was selected as Texas’s nominee for the 2020 National Superintendent of the Year, the Texas Association of School Administrators announced recently.

Bryant, Lubbock-Cooper ISD superintendent for the past six years, served as superintendent of Lamesa ISD and Bullard ISD before moving into his current role at Lubbock-Cooper ISD.

As a state nominee for National Superintendent of the Year, Bryant will be considered by a panel of judges that will select four finalists to be interviewed in Washington, DC, in January. The 2020 National Superintendent of the Year will be announced and the state nominees honored at AASA’s National Conference on Education in San Diego, California, February 13.

BuyBoard® Rebates Millions to Members

The Local Government Purchasing Cooperative Board returned approximately $9.1 million in the form of rebates to more than 970 members of the BuyBoard online purchasing system in 2018-19. Since 2006, more than $58.8 million has been rebated to eligible members, which include public schools, municipalities, counties, local government agencies, and more.

“The volume and purchasing power of BuyBoard creates economies of scale that no one public school, municipality, county, and other local government agency could achieve on its own,” said Marta Alvarez, chair of the Local Government Purchasing Cooperative Board of Trustees. “Leveraging that purchasing power on a wide range of contracts delivers competitive prices and reduces administrative cost. It allows members to be efficient and effective in their procurement processes and, as a result, provides the best value to the taxpayer.”

BuyBoard’s total purchase volume is in excess of $1.2 billion, and its membership includes more than 5,300 governmental and nonprofit entities in Texas. The Cooperative is endorsed by the Texas Association of Counties, Texas Municipal League, Texas Association of School Administrators, and TASB. The Cooperative is also a Strategic Partner with the Texas Association of School Business Officials.

Top Two (from page 41)

them that I, too, was from Northeast El Paso with a middle-class working family, that they can be successful.”

For More Info

To achieve recognition as Texas Elementary or Secondary Teacher of the Year, a teacher must first be chosen as a campus and district teacher of the year, then a regional honoree. From the group of 40 regional winners, six finalists are chosen and interviewed by an independent panel of judges composed of representatives of education associations, community and business leaders, a member of the State Board for Educator Certification, a member of the State Board of Education, and prior Texas Teachers of the Year.

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

40 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org
If you have a short news item you would like to submit to Bulletin Board, roger.white@tasb.org.e-mail

Top Two of Teaching

Sams, Sandoval Named 2020 Texas Teachers of the Year

A Weatherford ISD elementary teacher and an Ysleta ISD middle school teacher were named 2020 Texas Teachers of the Year by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) at an awards luncheon in Austin in 2019.

Karen Sams, a third-grade teacher at Weatherford ISD’s David Crockett Elementary School, was named the 2020 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year; and Michelle Sandoval, an eighth-grade math teacher at Ysleta ISD’s Parkland Middle School, was named the 2020 Texas Secondary Teacher of the Year.

Sams was chosen to represent the state as Texas Teacher of the Year in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Also honored during the luncheon were Regional Teachers of the Year Juliette Broussard of Pasadena ISD, Kami Dodds of Brady ISD, Jennifer Garner of River Road ISD, and Perla Lozoya of

Socorro ISD. The Regional Teachers of the Year were named as state finalists.

“I congratulate Karen and Michelle on this achievement. Texas Teacher of the Year is the highest honor our state bestows upon its teachers,” said TASA Executive Director Kevin Brown. “They have distinguished themselves among thousands of outstanding, dedicated teachers across our state and nation who have answered the call to serve others.”

Passion and Pride

In her 15-year career in education, Sams has taught first through third grades, as well as K-5 music. She is passionate about public education and has committed her career to helping students in Title 1 schools. At David Crockett Elementary, she serves on the Campus Improvement Team and the Restorative Practices Campus Behavior Team.

“Students learn best by being engaged

and collaborating with others,” Sams said. “One way that I connect with students and reach them on a more personal level is through humor. When teachers share a laugh or a smile with students, it helps them feel more comfortable and open to learning.”

Sandoval has taught eighth-grade math at Parkland Middle School for the past year of her 10-year teaching career. She serves as the student council sponsor and volleyball coach on her campus. Sandoval is proud to be teaching at her alma mater and to be from the El Paso community.

“Transparency is everything in education. When you are a real human in front of your students, you earn respect,” Sandoval said. “My only wish is that when I am transparent with them and show

(See Top Two, page 40.)

Dallas #tasatasb


January 15–March 1

Complete and submit proposal applications.

March 15–31

Vote on which sessions you want to attend. An invitation to share feedback will be emailed to board members, superintendents, and administrators before these dates.

June 30

Presenters receive notification of session decisions and next steps.

texaslonestaronline.org | January/February 2020 | Texas Lone Star 41
October 2–4 Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center

Thank You, Texas Trustees

School Board Recognition Month Celebrated in January

Q:Are we still celebrating School Board Recognition Month in January?

A: Yes! For a number of years now, Texas has celebrated School Board Recognition Month in January, welcoming each new year with a “thank you” to the more than 7,000 locally elected board members who serve in all parts of this state. The governor usually signs a proclamation, as Governor Greg Abbott did this year, and communities take a moment to express appreciation for the time and effort of trustees who serve their local school districts.

students. The creativity around the theme is one of the best parts of seeing the celebrations in various districts, large and small.

This year, TASB also produced a video titled “Big-Hearted Texans” to show our appreciation to board members across the state. If you haven’t seen it yet, go to sbrm.tasb.org to see the homage to trustees. It’s less than three minutes long, so you may want to show it in a local board meeting or other community meetings.

The video isn’t tied specifically to the month of January, so we plan to show it throughout the year. You can also use the icon in the upper right corner to share

unique nature; larger-than-life Texans like Charles Goodnight, Tom Landry, and Henrietta King; praise for Texas writers like McMurtry, Kelton, and Dobie; praise for Texas iconic brands from Whataburger to Blue Bell Ice Cream to Southwest Airlines; and I’ve also included some classic modern folklore that one could share over drinks at happy hour.”

If you prefer to read these tales, 75 of his stories were collected into book format recently and can be found in all the usual places, as well as Buc-ee’s convenience stores and HEB grocery stores. The book, titled Stories from Texas, has been tremendously popular since its release in 2018—so much so that a second volume will be available this summer. You can find more information at storiesfromtexas.com.


that Narrator

Typically, the best “thank yous” come from the students in the districts. Older students sometimes prepare video presentations, while younger students have made posters and personalized cards of appreciation for each trustee. Some of the most entertaining projects have been interviews with students about what school board members do. As you can imagine, the answers vary widely and often offer creative ideas.

TASB Materials

Every year, TASB provides a packet of materials that districts can use, including a theme. This year’s theme is “Launching the Next Generation,” which, of course, led to many space-themed activities by

the video on social media. Trustees can find the video posted in the Member Center on the TASB Website (tasb.org).

Video Narration

If you are a public radio listener, you may recognize the voice on the video. The narrator has done radio broadcasts since 2010 called “Stories from Texas,” where he shares legends and tales about Texas and Texans. If you don’t hear the show on your local radio station, you can find the archive of stories online at Texas Standard—the “National Daily News Show of Texas”—at texasstandard.org/ stories/categories/wfstrong/.

The narrator notes: “I focus on these things: the Texas dialect and its

You may also be interested to know that the narrator’s father was a longtime Texas school superintendent, and his mother was a public school librarian— but perhaps you would be most amused to know that he is my brother-in-law: W.F. Strong, a professor of communications and culture and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Texas–Rio Grande Valley.

By the way, he said he was glad to donate his voice to the video honoring Texas school trustees.

Thank you, Texas school board members, for your dedication and your passion, and thank you, Bill, for helping us honor these wonderful trustees.H

42 Texas Lone Star | January/February 2020 | texaslonestaronline.org Q & A
Karen Strong is TASB associate executive director of Communications and Public Relations.
This year, TASB produced a video titled “Big-Hearted Texans” to show our appreciation to board members across the state.
She is counting on you. Speak up for our children. Speak up for Texas public schools.

Summer Leadership

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June 17–20

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June 24–27



• Inform and inspire others while bragging about your district

• Foster community and connections to improve Texas public schools

• Contribute to the dialogue on student achievement

• Give back by helping other trustees on their learning journey

• Be part of the movement that makes SLI a continued success

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Texas Association of School Boards P.O. Box 400 Austin, Texas 78767-0400 Call for Proposals
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