May 2020

Page 1

Coping with COVID-19 How Schools Are Taking Care of their Students and Communities during the Global Pandemic Also in This Edition: Navigating the Social Media Sea Tips for School Leaders Communicating Online Stronger Together Hays CISD Clothes Closet Helps Students in Need A Publication of the Texas Association of School Boards | Volume 38, Number 4 | May 2020 Texas Lone Star

Featured Event


JUNE 17-20


JUNE 24-27



1 • TASB Special Education Solutions SHARS 2020 Webinar

4 • TASB BoardBook® Training Webinar • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, Alpine

5 • TASB BoardBook Training Webinar • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, Iraan

6 • TASB BoardBook Training Webinar

7 • TASB BoardBook Training Webinar • Virtual TASB Spring Workshop

8 • 2020 Superintendent of the Year Nominations Due to Regional ESCs (Extended Deadline)

11 • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, Commerce

12 • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, Nacogdoches

13 • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, Canyon

14 • Virtual TASB Spring Workshop

15-16 • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, South Padre Island

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

Anne Sung, Houston ISD, Region 4

Mildred Watkins, La Vega ISD, Region 12

Greg Welch, Clyde CISD, Region 14

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


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

2 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 | Calendar
18 • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, Abilene
19 • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, Waco
21 • Virtual TASB Spring Workshop 27 • [CANCELED] TASB Spring Workshop, Uvalde
28 • Virtual TASB Spring Workshop
2 • TASA Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Allen
8 • TASA Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Wolfforth
9 • TASB HR Services “Managing State and Federal Leave” Workshop, Austin • TASA Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Cypress 10 • TASB HR Services “Get a Grip on the Family and Medical Leave Act” Workshop, Austin • TASA Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, Victoria 15-17 • TASBO Summer Solutions Conference, Galveston
16 • 2020 School Board Awards Nominations Due to Regional ESCs
Fort Worth
TASA Summer Conference, Austin
2 • State Board of Education Meetings, Austin
17 • TASA/TASB/TASBO Budget Cohort for Texas District Leaders, Galveston 17-20 • Summer Leadership Institute, San
24-27 • Summer Leadership Institute,
28-30 •


8 Coping with COVID-19

At the heart of every community is a public school district filled with helpers. Read how these helpers all over Texas responded to the COVID-19 crisis.


2 Calendar

22 Legal News

26 Capital Watch

30 Facilitating Student Success

32 News & Events


5 From the Top

7 Editor’s Footnote

42 Q & A

16 Navigating the Social Media Sea

Being a credible source of information and knowing the do’s and don’ts of social media can help board members build trust with their communities.


Stronger Together

In Hays CISD, the district’s Clothes Closet and HaysHope2Go initiatives are helping students and families in need of clothing and food assistance.

Texas Lone Star • Volume 38, Number 4

Texas Association of School Boards

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

Roger White • Managing Editor

Melissa Locke Roberts • Assistant Editor

Shu-in Powell • Graphic Designer

Patrick Morris, Virginia Hernandez • Photographers

Amy Rames • Advertising Coordinator 360 Press Solutions • Printer

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

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

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

Web Watch

As response to the coronavirus outbreak develops, TASB is compiling event cancellations and legal resources that may be helpful to trustees and districts. Get the latest at

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

Texas Lone Star does not guarantee publication of unsolicited manuscripts.

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

Follow us: | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 3
Contents | May 2020
. Tips for School District Leaders Communicating Online by
14 Texas Lone Star May 2020 THE SOCIAL MEDIA SEA Coping with COVID-19 How Schools Are Taking Care of their Students and Communities during the Global Pandemic by Stephanie Butler
Beth Trimble, Kristin Zastoupil, Ian Halperin, and Megan Overman Cover design by Kristie Robles Helping you through the unexpected. You’re there for Texas students. The TASB Risk Management Fund is here for you. TASB RI SK FU ND

‘These Are the Times’

Know Your Role, Responsibilities during the Crisis

As the Red Cross says, “Life emergencies don’t stop.” Or, as we have heard all our lives, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.” But who among us could have predicted the school closures and impact that COVID-19 would have on all of us?

Here’s some sound advice for school board members and school leaders in these challenging times. First and foremost, put your students’ needs first and don’t forget that you represent all the children in the district, not just the ones who live on your block or that you personally know. You represent all of them. Secondly, know your role and responsibilities as a board member and the role and responsibilities of the superintendent. Thirdly, as Robert Rader, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, wrote, “Focus on the big picture with optimism and think long-term…although this may be difficult in light of current concerns.”

Maintain Focus

The whole reason we have schools is for the students, the children of our community. The students in our schools are the future of hometowns, Texas, and America. We are the adults. We must accept the responsibility to provide an

education for them. However, we must put health and safety first for the children, the staff, and our community. Hard decisions require more than knee-jerk reactions. We must move past fear into a learning phase and then into the purpose zone. The decisions made must take into account the economically disabled students, the students with learning disabilities, as well as the general education students. Our decisions will have a long-term effect on our children, so let’s continue to make good, solid decisions as we provide reasonable educational services to our students.

As school board members and leaders in our communities, we need to fulfill our duties. We need to remember our strength is in numbers. When we sit around the board table or, in today’s world, conduct a virtual meeting, the strength is in the board decision, not the individual’s opinion. As we walk away from the meeting, we are to support the decisions of the board and not secondguess the majority. We chose, voted to hire, and now more than ever need to let the superintendent run the school district. Our job is to stay in contact with the public, to listen to concerns, to allay fears, and to support the decisions made in the best interest of our students.

The third thing we can do that is in the best interest of our district is to maintain the focus on education with optimism and think things through for the long haul. The slogan “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” became prominent during the civil rights movement though it was originally an old gospel hymn. Its lyrics were meant to encourage people to continue on, persevering in the face

of any and all obstacles. Its theme was to keep your eyes on the goal and remember your purpose. As leaders in our community, we can do this together. Health and safety for all with education for our students is our purpose—and the prize is our future.

Stand Up to the Challenge

In December 1776, the great American patriot Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls…in this crisis…he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” Though written almost 250 years ago, his words still ring true today. Those who have stood up to the pandemic challenges by putting their students’ needs first, performed their roles as board members and supported the superintendent, and maintained the focus on the future deserve our love and thanks.

I sincerely appreciate all of you who serve your districts, and I pray for the safety of all of you on the front lines in this time of crisis. Stay safe. We will see this through together.H | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 5 From the Top
Lee Lentz-Edwards Lee Lentz-Edwards, a Kermit ISD trustee, is 2019-20 president of TASB.
Hard decisions require more than knee-jerk reactions. We must move past fear into a learning phase and then into the purpose zone.
Our job is to stay in contact with the public, to listen to concerns, to allay fears, and to support the decisions in the best interest of our students.


A Time to Shine

All across Texas, Districts Respond in Days of Need

The Texas public schools community has a long and storied history of responding during times of crisis. Time after time—through hurricanes, storms, floods, financial hardships, incidents of violence, periods of special need—local school leaders, teachers, staff, students, and parents have come through, lifting up their communities. Many such stories have been shared in the pages of Texas Lone Star through the years.

The great call to action among schools in every Texas town during the COVID-19 outbreak is no exception. In fact, I believe we may look back on these days as the time when the Texas public education community shined brightest.

Creek ISD, Greenville ISD, and others to put their robotics expertise to use creating 3-D printed face shields for healthcare workers responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

“The kids feel great about being able to contribute,” Rippetoe said. “Once we figured out what we could do, a lot of people got involved.”

Sharing Vital Resources

In Northside ISD, district officials have donated hundreds of masks, gowns, thermometers, and equipment to area hospitals. “With our school buildings closed right now, we realize that the immediate need is to help the healthcare workers in our hospitals,” said Jennifer

Krueger, district director of Health Services. “Now isn’t the time to hoard; now is the time to share.”

Northside ISD Superintendent Brian T. Woods added that “School districts have always been the hub of our community. And our community needs us more than ever.”

Providing Access

And in Lockhart ISD, the board of trustees moved to build seven network towers that would provide internet to all its students and staff.

“This is about equity. Every one of our Lockhart Lions needs to have access to the opportunities they deserve to grow and truly thrive,” Superintendent Mark Estrada said.

These are just a few examples of districts going above and beyond the call of duty, showing genuine compassion and care for their communities, that you’ll find in Butler’s well-researched story. Read this inspiring feature, beginning on page 8.H

TASB Communications Consultant

Stephanie Butler talked to districts throughout the state to bring you our cover feature for this edition—a story of hope, inspiration, imagination, and courage.

From Competing to Creating

In Conroe ISD, for example, the district’s award-winning robotics team— called Texas Torque—was set to enter a challenging team competition when they were informed that the season was over due to the pandemic. Undeterred, team mentor Scott Rippetoe and the Conroe squad got together with teams from Clear | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 7
Editor’s Footnote
Roger White is managing editor of Texas Lone Star
“School districts have always been the hub of our community. And our community needs us more than ever.”

Coping with COVID-19

How Schools Are Taking Care of their Students and Communities during the Global Pandemic

8 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |

During any kind of crisis, you’re likely to see the face of Mr. Rogers on your TV or social media feed, sharing what his mother told him when he was young and saw something scary on the news. “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

If you’re looking for the helpers during the COVID-19 pandemic, look toward the educators of Texas public schools.

As the coronavirus spread, schools across Texas began to close and our daily lives quickly changed. Meanwhile, teachers moved instruction online basically overnight with grace and creativity. District employees banded together to make plans to serve free meals to their students, despite the closing of cafeterias. Districts donated much-needed personal protective equipment to local hospitals. While everyone is separated, educators found ways to connect with students and create a sense of community. They worked together to make sure the neediest students have what they need to continue learning, including food, internet access, and technology.

Here’s just a sample of how Texas public schools are rising to the challenge.

Overcoming Obstacles

The COVID-19 crisis quickly evolved and disrupted our normal lives. As many schools looked forward to spring break, they were suddenly forced to close and move from in-person to distance learning with little time to prepare.

Parents, many of whom are still attempting to work full-time, became teachers. Teachers had to quickly adapt lesson plans and find new ways of connecting with students. And students’ daily lives were upended as they dealt with a global pandemic that has produced isolation and uncertainty.

This has been a challenge for families living even in the best of circumstances. But imagine what it’s like for those less fortunate—students who are homeless, hungry, have special needs, or don’t have access to the internet or technology.

The educators of Texas public schools are working diligently to try to meet the needs of every one of their students. They attempt to provide meaningful learning to students while also exhibiting the flexibility and understanding that is warranted in these circumstances.

Aldine ISD Superintendent LaTonya M. Goffney said her district is committed to providing students with resources so they can continue learning at home. “We currently have an online learning platform that has a host of enrichment activities and learning resources for our students, but we recognize that there is still a gap,” Goffney said.

One pervasive gap is the digital divide, where rural, low-income, and nonwhite Americans are less likely to have access to the technology they need. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 21.3 million people in the United States do not have broadband availability.

Goffney knows that more than 40 percent of Aldine ISD families do not have access to technology and Wi-Fi. “To combat that, we are working on reaching students with paper packets that have activities that match the online programming. We are also beginning to distribute devices to our secondary students, in grades 6-12,” she said.

The Lockhart ISD Board recently voted to approve a purchase to obtain and build seven network towers that would provide internet to all its students and staff.

“This is about equity. Every one of our Lockhart Lions needs to have access to the opportunities they deserve to grow and truly thrive,” Superintendent Mark Estrada said.

Unexpectedly having to move an entire district to distance learning with little warning has been a challenge | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 9
If you’re looking for the helpers during the COVID-19 pandemic, look toward the educators of Texas public schools.

for schools everywhere. For one middle school teacher in Duncanville ISD, though, the transition was a bit smoother. Jouet Daniels had no idea the coronavirus pandemic was coming, but she was already prepared.

Last year, to help her students prepare for the STAAR test, the English teacher began hosting study sessions on a video conferencing app. The result? An 88 percent passing rate and 30 percent mastery—the highest scores for sixth-graders in the entire district. While COVID-19 forced educators to scramble to transition to online learning, Daniels had already established her virtual presence. She understands that uncertainty is uncomfortable but believes online learning can provide students with invaluable experience.

“This is college and career readiness at its finest,” she said. “To be able to go to school online and speak with your instructor. This is preparing them for life.”

Above and Beyond

Anyone who thinks that the only thing public schools provide is an education is sorely mistaken. Educators consistently step up to meet the needs of their students, providing food, stability, caretaking, counseling, life skills,

During the COVID-19 school closures, districts are still expected to continue to provide meals to students, despite the challenges associated with social distancing and a limit on gatherings. Districts quickly adapted and had outdoor meal pick-up lines at various locations—or even put their school buses back to work delivering food.

Members of Dallas ISD’s Food and Nutrition Services staff were featured on the cover of TIME magazine in early April. In the span of just a few weeks, the district’s cafeteria workers made and served more than one million meals. In Comstock ISD, the school board voted to provide meals to not only students but senior citizens, as well. Breakfast and lunch are delivered Monday through Friday to those who may be most at risk in the community.

In Abilene ISD, staff have delivered thousands of care packages to the city’s homeless families. The packages

online study session hosted from her home. Photo courtesy of Duncanville ISD
10 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |
Educators consistently step up to meet the needs of their students, providing food, stability, caretaking, counseling, life skills, and reassurance.

contain food and information about available assistance services, according to the Abilene Reporter News

As stories hit the news of healthcare workers not having enough personal protective equipment (PPE), public schools sprang into action. Headlines were filled with stories of districts donating PPE that they had in stock to help workers on the frontlines of the pandemic response.

Northside ISD donated hundreds of masks, gowns, and thermometers to local hospitals. “With our school buildings closed right now, we realize that the immediate need is to help the healthcare workers in our hospitals,” said Jennifer Krueger, director of Health Services at the district. “Now isn’t the time to hoard; now is the time to share.”

Northside ISD Superintendent Brian T. Woods added, “School districts have always been the hub of our community. And our community needs us more than ever.”

In March, the Conroe ISD robotics team (Texas Torque) was looking forward to its 2020 season. In its first event of the year, the group was awarded the competition’s highest honor. However, the day they were set to travel to their next event, they were informed that not only had it been canceled because of the coronavirus, but that their entire season was over.

The team’s lead mentor, Scott Rippetoe, said having the season cut short was pretty rough for the kids. Not long after, however, he received a request from a healthcare worker asking if he could produce PPE. Turning disappointment into action, he worked with Texas Torque to begin designing and 3-D printing face shields.

Rippetoe started working with other Texas robotics teams, including Clear Creek ISD’s Robonauts and the Greenville ISD Robowranglers. Lucien Junkin, a mentor for the Clear Creek ISD team, came up with a face shield design that can be printed on a

water-jet printer, drastically increasing the number that can be produced per day.

“The kids feel great about being able to contribute,” Rippetoe said. “Once we figured out what we could do, a lot of people got involved.” He has had volunteers who are not even part of the club step up, offering to deliver PPE to local medical facilities.

The Conroe robotics team isn’t stopping at face shields, either. After a 36-hour design contest, the group began working to perfect a prototype of an intubation box, which aids doctors in intubating patients.

Other districts are finding unique ways to serve their communities during a crisis. The Odessa American reported that Ector County ISD is housing first responders who may have come in contact with someone with COVID-19. This allows police officers, firefighters, and rescue workers to prevent the spread of the virus to their family members.

Alone Together

While self-isolating and quarantining are essential to help stop the spread of COVID-19, it can be a lonely experience. Teachers and school leaders wondered how they could continue connecting with students daily and keep a

Once again, we see educators being adaptable, resourceful, and resilient as they try to bring stability to an uncertain situation.

Many school districts held “teacher parades,” where teachers would drive their vehicles through the school’s neighborhoods, displaying signs and waving at students.

Kermit ISD asked teachers to park in a vacant lot across from the elementary school.

Lucey Guevara, an emergency room nurse in Saint Lucie, Florida, was one of the first healthcare workers to receive a face shield made by the Conroe ISD robotics team. Guevara is a former student of the district. | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 11
Photo courtesy of Conroe ISD

Brooklynn Allen, a band student at Dripping Springs ISD’s Sycamore Springs Middle School, performs a “porch concert” as her sister looks on.

Roxana Espino, instructional auxiliary coordinator for the district, said, “We wanted to show our students how much we love and miss them. We asked them to make signs, come smile and wave at their students as they drove by—all while modeling social distancing. We had a great turnout, and we even had a few students make signs them selves to show our teachers some love, too!”

Pflugerville ISD used social media to host virtual spirit days. Parents posted photos of their participating children on a Facebook thread. The themed days included animal day, sports day, pajama day, and more. On a “Thank ful Thursday,” a district elementary school encouraged writing notes of gratitude for essential workers.

Although concerts are on hold for now, some neighbor hoods in Dripping Springs are being treated to live music every weeknight. The district’s band students have started perform ing “porch concerts” each evening at 7 p.m. The students get to practice their talents while observing social distancing.

The award-winning Roma ISD mariachi program proved you can still make music together during isolation. Eloy Garza, mariachi director, had each student record themselves performing El Relámpago on their phones. Then he combined the audio and video of each individual into one high-energy performance. The group’s video of their at-home practice went viral, getting well over a million views on social media—and drawing attention from across the country.

Klein ISD was looking for ways to create connection as its more than 50,000 students learned from home. That’s where two new initiatives came into play, #musicallyinKLEINed and #KleinReads.

Photo courtesy of Dripping Springs ISD
12 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |
“So because we cannot see each other every day, it is important that our virtual presence be one of information, happiness, and hope.”

The #musicallyinKLEINed initiative asks students to share their talents, whether it’s singing, playing an instrument, reading poetry, or performing in some way. Students, staff, and families upload their videos to a website, where anyone can go to browse the more than 240 performances.

“Klein ISD has a long tradition of success in fine arts. So we knew that our talented students and staff would bring a message of hope to our community,” said Joel Wren, director of fine arts for the district.

With #KleinReads, teachers and students can visit a website and either upload a video of themselves reading a favorite book or watch videos of their teachers and class mates reading to them.

Dayna Hernandez, Klein ISD executive director of teaching and learning, knows that reading is the most important skill for every subject area. “We needed to keep our kids reading during this time, and what better way than to read with your favorite teachers and educators!” she said.

Superintendent Jenny McGown said the response to both of these campaigns has been overwhelming, with more than 700 videos submitted. She wants to ensure that students and parents know that Klein ISD is there to support and help them during trying times.

“Our community, our country, the world is facing a crisis not seen in our lifetime. Public schools serve as gathering places in times of good and bad for our community. So because we cannot see each other every day, it is important that our virtual presence be one of information, happiness, and hope. We want our students and their families to know that while our doors may be closed, our hearts are still open,” McGown said.

Share Your Good News

As we navigate this new world of fear and uncertain ty, remember to look for the helpers. At the heart of every community is a public school filled with helpers—generous and caring educators who eagerly jump in to ease the burden on their students, staff, parents, and communities. Let that knowledge comfort you, encourage you, and show you the undeniable value of Texas public schools.

Do you have a story to share about what’s making you proud of Texas schools right now? TASB is compiling a list of good news in public education during the COVID-19 crisis. E-mail Your story could be featured on our website.H

Stephanie Butler is a TASB communications consultant. A Kermit ISD teacher displays her homemade sign showing appreciation to her students as part of Kermit’s “teacher parade” honoring district educators. | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 13
Photo courtesy of Kermit ISD

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources

TASB maintains a continuously updated list of COVID-19 resources and information sources at covid-19-resources.aspx. Check this page regularly for the latest updates. Among the Association’s online resources for Texas public schools are the following:

Infectious Disease Response

TASB Legal Services© memo “Responding to the Risk of Infectious Disease in Public Schools” (pdf) helps districts to review their infectious disease response plans and monitor available resources.

Governance Issues

Delegation of Authority

TASB Legal Services memo “Emergency Delegation of Authority to Superintendent” (pdf) answers questions school boards have asked about the delegation of authority to the superintendent during a period of emergency school closure for the COVID-19 pandemic. The memo includes a “Resolution of the Board Regarding Delegation to Superintendent for Waivers” (docx) also available in an editable Word format.

Video or Phone Meetings and the Open Meetings Act

TASB Legal Services article “Texas Governor Suspends Certain Provisions of Open Meetings Act Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)” (pdf) provides a quick summary of the Texas Open Meetings Act (OMA) provisions temporarily suspended by the governor in response to the COVID-19 disaster.

TASB Legal Services “Sample Notice/Agenda: Board Meeting by Videoconference or Telephone Call During Disaster Due to COVID-19” (docx) is a sample posting that allows boards to conduct virtual board meetings in compliance with the governor’s orders during the COVID-19 disaster.

TASB Board Development Services provides a sample script to read before video/phone meetings, entitled “Suggested Script to Be Read before Telephone or Videoconference Meeting Held under Suspended OMA Laws.”

Postponing the May Election

TASB Legal Services “Postponing the May 2, 2020,

Election” (pdf) provides additional information for school districts considering postponement of the May 2, 2020, election to November 3, 2020, pursuant to the governor’s March 18, 2020, proclamation authorizing postponement.

The Secretary of State Elections Division Election Advisory No. 2020-12 provides guidance for school districts opting to postpone elections ordered for May 2, 2020, to November 3, 2020, pursuant to the governor’s proclamation. Districts directing questions to the Elections Division should include a contact number where they can be reached.

Personnel Issues


See the TASB HR Services article “Educator Appraisal Waivers.”

See the TASB HR Services article regarding the “Pros and Cons of Educator Appraisal Waivers.”

Compensation and Benefits

TASB HR Services has produced “COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions” as a complement to the TASB Legal Services memo on personnel issues.

TASB Legal Services “Personnel Issues During Epidemics and School Closings” (pdf) is a Q&A answering frequently asked questions about compensating employees during school closings. The appendix to the Q&A includes five resolutions (docx) also available in an editable Word format.

TASB Policy Service has created guidance on “Premium Pay Provisions during COVID-19 Pandemic and FEMA Reimbursement.”

TASB HR Services explains flexibility for holders of federal student loans in “Wage Garnishment for Student Loans during COVID-19 Crisis.”


TASB HR Services offers guidance in “Modifying the Teacher Job Description for Remote Instruction” and offers the “Employee Request Form for Emergency Federal Leave.”

14 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |

TASB HR Services also provides sample “Recent Travel Reporting Forms” and guidance for managing employee exposure to COVID-19.

TASB HR Services provides a “COVID-19: Shelter-inPlace Exception Letter” and has created “Tools for Responding to an Employee Diagnosis or Exposure to COVID-19.”

General HR Guidance

TASB HR Services provides a “COVID-19: Shelter-inPlace Exception Letter” and has written an article on “DHS Flexibility for Reviewing I-9 Documentation.”

TASB HR Services published “Educator Preparation Programs and COVID-19,” which summarizes TEA guidance for educator preparation programs and field-based experience requirements.

TASB HR Services has produced an article on “EEOC Guidance on Medical Inquiries During a Pandemic” and has created the “Pre-Employment Affidavit During School Closure” for school districts.


TASB HR Services reviews “DOL Required Posters for Emergency Federal Leave” and has written an article covering “Emergency FMLA and Paid Leave Effective April 1, 2020.” Additionally, an “Employee Request Form for Emergency Federal Leave” is available from HR Services.

TASB Legal Services article “Personnel Provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (pdf) summarizes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and the Emergency Family Leave Expansion provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

TASB HR Services answers questions regarding leave and other HR topics in “COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions—Part 2.”

Remote Work Issues

TASB Risk Management has written an article on how “Cybercriminals Look to Cash in on Coronavirus.”

TASB HR Services published HR Considerations When Employees Are Working Remotely

TASB Legal Services “Personnel Issues Related to Instructional Continuity During Closures” (pdf) is a Q&A answering frequently asked questions about employment questions related to supporting students instructionally during a school closure. The Q&A includes a “Resolution of the Board Regarding Transition to Student Instruction” (docx), also available in an editable Word format.

TASB HR Services has created a “Teacher Job Description Addendum for Remote Instruction.”

TASB Risk Management published “Work at Home Safely during the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

TASB Legal Services “Legal Issues in Remote Instruction During the COVID-19 Pandemic” (pdf) addresses legal issues districts may encounter when implementing instructional continuity during a COVID-19 school closure.

Risk Management

TASB Risk Management has written “6 Common Questions about Coronavirus and Workers’ Compensation.”

Food Service-Related Resources

The Texas Department of Agriculture has released Updated Guidance on Meals (pdf) and Texas Department of Agriculture Coronavirus Updates for Contracting Entities.

The Texas MealFinder Map lists free school meal pick-up locations.

Facility-Related Resources

TASB Risk Management has written an article entitled “Don’t Mix Chemicals When Cleaning Schools Because of Coronavirus.”

Grading, Graduation, and Class Rank

TASB Policy Service has produced “Grading, Graduation, and Class Rank—COVID 19 FAQs.” | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 15


Tips for School District Leaders

16 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |

School public relations professionals bemoan media headlines such as “ISD educator faces charges.” Often the offense was not district-related, so why attach the person to the school district? Rarely do you hear “Manufacturing worker faces DUI charges” or “Pet food store employee arrested.” So why are educators almost always singled out?

The answer is simple: The standards are different for those of us in education. Certified educators have the Code of Ethics and Standard Practices for Texas Educators, which provides detailed guidelines for behavior toward our students and colleagues as well as parents and members of the community. The Educator’s Code of Ethics applies to us wherever we go—the classroom, grocery store, vacation, and on social media. Similarly, Policy BBF(LOCAL) establishes high ethical standards of conduct for members of the school board.


Standards in the Code of Ethics are fairly detailed; what varies are community expectations across the state. Local school leaders must know the expectations of their communities. When it comes to social media, this may include the types of posts, frequency, reply time, even how a post looks—graphics, text, photos, links, etc.

Expectations can extend beyond the district’s own social media channels to other public community pages, such as “parents of” pages, local mom groups, or community talk groups. Is the district expected to dispel rumors on public social media groups? How is that managed? Who has the authority to comment or

post on the district’s behalf? While this can seem daunting, districts usually choose one of two avenues: post and comment only on district channels, or monitor and correct/comment if necessary on public groups.

This article discusses both options. However, regardless of which option your district prefers, the choice should be communicated to all individuals who would be involved in social media management and response.

Proactive Planning

With that in mind, let’s review a few tools of the social media platforms that should serve as guides for any district. If your district does not have a social media strategic communications plan, we highly recommend you add that tool to your toolbox. At a minimum, social media goals should be part of your district’s communication and strategic plans. Outcomes should be outlined through goals with measures for both the short and long term. Your district should have in place a public Rules of Engagement/Terms of Use for your social platform(s). Facebook has the best avenue for posting these community expectations on your channel.

Additionally, the district’s Acceptable Use Policy should cover additional details about the use of district resources, technology safety, and consequences for inappropriate use. (See Policies BBI, CQ, and DH). Finally, Board Operating Procedures should have a section that covers board member expectations in the digital world as well as other communications avenues. Each of these tools should be reviewed annually and concurrently to ensure consistency by both the school board and administration, with any changes detailed to all employees.

Responding via Social Media

Q: Should you respond?

A: Many Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA) members agree that a district administrator should respond to public concerns, rumors, negative posts, or other social media issues. Collaborative working relationships between the board, superintendent, and office of communications can ensure that messaging is consistent, timely, and legal.

“Most boards have clear expectations on how, who, and when members can respond to questions and concerns,” said Wylie ISD Executive Director of Communications and Community Relations Ian Halperin. “Generally, the board president is charged with making any official replies on behalf of the entire board. The same expectations should apply to social media, as well.” | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 17

For instance, ignoring the rumor of a weapon on campus can cause a widespread reaction from frightened parents and may cause confusion in the community. Allowing the communications professional the authority to utilize social media, along with district notification systems, to push out the correct information is vital to a district’s rapid recovery. A district employee or even board member without all the accurate facts could complicate the process if they negatively respond to a parent, share additional false information, or even illegally discuss the situation if it was under investigation.

Q: Where should you respond?

A: There may be a situation that requires a joint statement from the board and the district; if so, this is when it would be most appropriate to respond on official district platforms and pages.

On nondistrict pages, such as a parent group or community talk group, the district’s response should be consistent. For example, in Red Oak ISD, the head of communications is a member of a social media talk group. When conversations turn to district matters, she routinely responds with accurate district information while redirecting individuals to the district channel or website for updates.

“In Red Oak ISD, while we prefer individuals choose to follow the district feed and our channels for the most up-to-date content, we also choose to meet people where they are,” stated Red Oak ISD Executive Director of Communications Beth Trimble. “We try to be very open and transparent about issues in the district, and our community expects that trust from us. I even have people who will tag me in conversations in external group posts.”

Many other districts forgo the above two options of choosing to post only on the official channels and rely instead on their parents and community supporters to correct misinformation, often sharing or reposting the same content from the district to outside groups and pages.

Q: How should you respond to negative comments?

A: How does a district deal with negative posters and “trolls”? These individuals constantly criticize the district and bring up negative matters from the past on every post. The best advice is to address them offline, not in a public Facebook feed where you could be accused of “hiding behind the keyboard.”

With a little research, you can easily find a publicly listed phone number. Or you can use the private-messaging function of the online platform to continue a private or “offline” conversation that is not in public view. Invite them to a conversation. Listen to their issues. Often, after being heard, they can become your biggest advocates.

“In Forney ISD, we really take a grassroots approach when starting out with social media critics by picking up the phone and calling,” said Forney ISD Executive Director of Marketing and Communications Kristin Zastoupil. “It takes about three months of top leadership calling to ask people about their experiences and reminding them that our doors are open and our phones are available to change the social media tide. If they have issues they need addressing, we don’t respond online unless it’s to redirect them to contact us. We call and try to take the conversation to a one-on-one. It humanizes our district and our team, and people feel more open to contact us via phone, e-mail, or in person in the future.”

The important thing to remember is once you have addressed an issue with the facts, move on. There is no need to continue reiterating or dispelling rumors over and over. State the facts on your page and other groups if you prefer, then let it go, even if you have nay-sayers who want to continue to dislike the facts.

Employees and the First Amendment

The First Amendment of the Constitution states that Congress shall make no law limiting freedom with respect to religion, expression, peaceful assembly, or right of citizens to petition the government. It is a common misconception that the First Amendment prohibits anyone from limiting free speech, including private, nongovernmental entities. It also does not address any consequences to free speech. For district employees, free speech on social media or other public platforms is an extension of that individual’s self-expression.

Unfettered speech by district employees on their personal pages can lead down a slippery slope, however, if their speech violates the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), is considered less than professional by the community and district, or involves illegal conduct. A teacher posting a vacation picture smoking marijuana in Colorado—where it is allowed by state law—is still violating federal law if the THC content of the marijuana is more than 0.3 percent. But of bigger concern is the fact that he or she is a teacher, held to higher standards by the community as an educator of our youth. With one vacation post, the person’s ability to do his or her job has now been compromised since many parents would not want that educator to teach their children.

Posting students’ work with comments about their inabilities, “liking” marginalizing jokes, degrading a person for his or her views, or sharing pictures depicting alcohol use or dangerous activities could all be questioned by the public, regardless of a teacher’s abilities in the classroom.

“Anyone working in education is held to a higher standard in the court of public opinion because parents trust them with their children and communities trust them to educate the

18 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |

future,” said Eagle Mountain-Saginaw Director of Communications Megan Overman. “While educators and elected board members do have rights as individuals on their personal social media pages, we all have to remember that those lines can blur very quickly when our actions step outside the expectations of our communities.”

Following established procedures and being careful to consider only job-related information, many human resource departments conduct online searches as part of the applicant review process. Candidates for educator positions—and board candidates—would be wise to self-evaluate what their social media sites say about them.

Other Legal Implications

Finally, districts must be aware of other legal issues that arise when using social media.

Nearly all information of a school district is potentially subject to disclosure under the Public Information Act, and districts have separate legal obligations related to records retention under the Local Government Records Act. There are often two avenues of thought regarding the district’s social media content. In an abundance of caution, some districts choose to back up all social media content, often through a third-party vendor. Other districts take a riskier approach, asserting that the content is on a public platform and, therefore, is already available to the public. Districts should work with their public information officer and legal counsel to determine what steps they should take with regard to the district’s social media content to ensure compliance with public information and records retention laws.

Districts should also establish their own Rules of Engagement to set expectations for public comments on districtcontrolled social media platforms. To have the best argument in the event of a First Amendment claim on social media, we recommend (and have been advised by counsel) to never delete a comment on your page unless it violates your Rules of Engagement, which should include the prohibition of:

• Obscene or vulgar words

• Endorsement of actions endangering others

• Promotion of illegal drugs or alcohol

• Violation of intellectual property rights, privacy rights, or rights of others

• Defamatory statements or threats

• Statements that advocate lawless or disruptive action or incite such action

• Hate speech or scurrilous attacks on a person or group creating hostility or violence

• Speech that interferes with school activities or operation

If you must delete something, screenshot it first and keep it in a file with the poster’s name and date. You will also need to notify the poster of a Rules of Engagement violation warning, which you should also document, and that a subsequent violation will lead to a ban from the page. Any second offender or continuing offenses should be notified and banned, as well.

Deletions are easier as a Rules of Engagement violation, but should you ever hide a comment? Hiding a comment allows the poster and the poster’s online friends to view the comment, but not the rest of the public. Just because you may not like someone’s comment, if it doesn’t violate your Rules of Engagement, seriously consider the potential legal consequences before hiding a post. Comments from all points of view should make an organization better. Showing the public that you are willing to listen can go a long way.

Final Words

Social media can be an excellent tool for school district communications. Sharing the stories about your students, staff, and schools on multiple platforms can reach a wider audience on the device everyone is carrying in their hands. With a collaborative plan and desired outcomes, you can drive up your audience, engage your community, and sell the amazing product of your school system.

As with all well-executed communications strategies, know your community standards, set the expectations, and communicate them to all individuals involved. And be proactive. Being the credible source of information—in good times and bad—will help you build trust and digital relationships with your community.H

Beth Trimble of Red Oak ISD, Kristin Zastoupil of Forney ISD, Ian Halperin of Wylie ISD, and Megan Overman of Eagle MountainSaginaw ISD are members of the Texas School Public Relations Association. | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 19



One of the enduring strengths of Hays CISD has always been a commitment to community, where the word “neighbor” still means something. The first official Hays CISD Clothes Closet opened its doors in 2018 to help students in all grades and at all campuses—students whose families or guardians were experiencing economic challenges. It was an idea nearly a decade in the making, championed by the district’s current board president, Esperanza Orosco, and made possible by passion and perseverance.

Hays CISD Clothes Closet Helps Students in Need

“In 2010, as a bilingual teacher in Hays CISD, I noticed many of my students were coming to school without coats, socks, or wearing worn-out shoes or clothes that did not fit. So I started collecting clothes from my own family and friends to help the students in my class,” said Orosco. “I asked my principal at Camino Real Elementary for permission to hold monthly clothes distribution events for students in my classroom. She agreed. I started organizing the clothing in my classroom after school wondering if anyone at all would show up to my first event. They did. When more than half of my families showed, I knew we had identified a need for clothing in our community. The next day, students and parents asked about whether we were planning to hold another event soon. Even students from other classes came by to ask if they could participate.”

Having new or gently used clothing is important to self-esteem and the ability for children to focus on education.

“Based on the success of my monthly clothes distribution events and the clearly identified need, the next school year, we opened a room on campus that allowed for weekly shopping events,” Orosco added. “I had continued to collect clothing and shoes all summer long in anticipation of opening the clothes room. Once a week, I stayed after school to run our campus closet, enlisting the help of some of my coworkers and friends. Word of mouth brought more families from other schools asking for assistance. It quickly turned out to be popular districtwide.”

As a fast-growth district, Hays CISD was not able to support the clothes closet at Camino Real Elementary. Space was desperately needed to house classrooms for the ever-increasing number of students enrolling in the district. Still, Orosco persevered and continued to help students with clothing however she could, but on a smaller scale.

Going Districtwide

When she left teaching in 2013 to care for her newborn, her dream of a full-scale districtwide clothes closet continued. In 2016, Orosco was elected to the Hays CISD Board. Her newfound leadership role, coupled with her passion to alleviate clothing insecurity, was a powerful combination. The hiring of a new superintendent, Eric Wright, in 2018, was the needed last piece of the puzzle to make it happen.

In 2018, the Hays CISD Clothes Closet officially opened. It had a new look, new logo, dedicated social media accounts, and its own space in a portable building. In 2019, it moved into a free-standing permanent building, which allowed the pro-

20 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |

gram to begin tackling another need—food. As a companion program to the Clothes Closet, Orosco created HaysHope2Go with the space in the new building. It provides food bags to families in need, often the same families who rely on the Clothes Closet. The food goes home to cover weekends and holidays, when children are not in school.

The Clothes Closet and HaysHope2Go operate free of charge to the district and rely on volunteers from civic groups, religious groups, students, and community members to keep it going. The team works closely with counselors and Communities in Schools to identify families in need.

What started out as a classroom initiative on one campus to address one need has grown into a districtwide resource addressing both clothing and food insecurities.

“Through it all, the residents of Hays CISD have generously and compassionately answered the call to provide assistance to many of our neighbors,” said Orosco. “It is through this strength that we will overcome every hurdle or barrier for the benefit of our kids and students. Everyone who volunteers at the Clothes Closet and with HaysHope2Go works every day to eliminate challenges to the success of our students. We tackle this challenge by helping one family at a time.”

Still Growing

So, what’s next? Don’t doubt for a minute that Orosco will settle. The program she started nearly a decade ago will keep growing. In addition to helping Hays CISD families, she says she continues to receive more and more requests from the county. And she never says no. The Clothes Closet and HaysHope2Go proudly serve students and families from other school districts in the county, as well as families referred from local nonprofit, community-based organizations and police and fire departments.

“With our community’s support, generosity, kindness, and willingness to serve, the Hays CISD Clothes Closet, HaysHope2Go, our volunteers, and our amazing community partners are ready to take on poverty and hunger for the benefit of the children in our district,” said Orosco. “We really are stronger together!”H

Hays CISD staff and volunteers gather food items for the HaysHope2Go program, a companion initiative to the Hays CISD Clothes Closet program that provides food to needy families in the community. Hays CISD students last year showed off new and gently used articles of clothing that were donated to the Hays CISD Clothes Closet for use by students and families in need. Photos courtesy of Hays CISD | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 21
Tim Savoy is chief communication officer for Hays CISD.

More COVID-19 Fallout

Texas Governor Suspends Certain OMA Provisions

On March 16, Governor Greg Abbott granted a request from Attorney General Ken Paxton to temporarily suspend a limited number of Texas Open Meetings Act (OMA) laws to the extent necessary to allow telephonic or videoconference meetings and to avoid congregate settings in physical locations in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) disaster.

Several of the suspended laws offer flexibility for telephone or videoconference meetings conducted by Texas school boards. The order is effective immediately and will remain in effect until terminated by the governor or until the March 13 disaster declaration is lifted or expires.

laws requiring the physical presence of a quorum have also been suspended. According to the statement on the governor’s website, if public officials are not holding a telephonic or videoconference meeting, all open meeting requirements apply. A full list of the suspended laws and the original letter from the governor’s office are available on the Texas attorney general’s website (

Notice of Meetings

Physical posting of notice is not required for remote meetings. Meeting notices for telephonic and videoconference meetings may be posted online only. The governor suspended provisions of the OMA that require posting at the central

suspended for remote meetings. Normally, a school board must allow each member of the public who desires to address the board regarding an item on an agenda for an open meeting to address the board regarding the item at the meeting before or during the board’s consideration of the item.2 The governor’s order suspends this provision.

School boards were already permitted to conduct remote meetings by teleconference and videoconference, in accordance with applicable law. See TASB Legal Services’ guidance on Remote Participation in Board Meetings at the TASB School Law eSource site ( services/legal-services/tasb-school-lawesource.aspx).

Now, however, statutory requirements to permit the public to attend and offer public testimony from a physical location, even during remote meetings, have been suspended if the school district offers alternatives. In addition, several

office and posting in a physical location in addition to posting online.1 The posting must still be online continuously for 72 hours unless the emergency notice exception allows one-hour notice.

Online posting requires a conference number or link for use by the public. The suspension order specifically requires that an online notice must include a toll-free dial-in number or a free-of-charge videoconference link, along with an electronic copy of any agenda packet.

Public Comment

Requirement for public comment

Reasonable rules are allowed. The governor’s order does not impact the other provisions related to public comment, which allow reasonable rules by the board regarding public comment. To manage efficient and orderly meetings, districts may continue to require timely sign-up by members of the public who wish to provide comment.

“Alternate methods” for comment are required. The order requires, however, that school districts offer alternative methods of communicating with district officials. For example, districts might set up a dedicated voicemail or e-mail inbox. Consider having an administrator play or read the comments aloud to the board during the meeting.

22 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 | Legal News
The governor’s order does not impact other provisions related to public comment, which allow reasonable rules by the board regarding public comment.

Meetings by Teleconference

A board may meet by teleconference even absent an emergency. Normally, the use of meetings by teleconference are limited to an emergency or public necessity as defined by the OMA.3 That provision is suspended.

Notice, quorum, and audio recording are still required. A quorum is still required to conduct a meeting, even by teleconference. A meeting by teleconference still must be posted in accordance with the OMA. A meeting by teleconference must be audio recorded, and the recording must be available to the public.

The public must have access through a conference call or link. The district does not have to open a physical location for the public, but the public must have dial-in or conference capability allowing for two-way communication. According to the suspension order, the dial-in number or videoconference link provided in the notice must make the meeting audible to members of the public and allow for their two-way

Find out what thousands of school board members already know.

It’s all at

l Report and view continuing education credit

l Read exclusive articles and how-to’s

l View a calendar of upcoming events and actions you need to take

Access password-protected areas of with your myTASB user ID and password. | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 23
Member Center is the best way to access Policy On Line®, BoardBook®, and everything else you need to succeed.
TRUSTEES! Your search ends here. TASB Member Center • Log in and bookmark it now!

communication. Other specifications about the quality of the audio have been suspended.

Meetings by Videoconference

A quorum does not have to gather in a single physical location. Normally to conduct a meeting by videoconference, a quorum of the school board must be in a single physical location.4 That requirement, as well as the requirement to post the physical location of the quorum, has been suspended. Consequently, during the period of suspension, a school board may meet by videoconference with all members in separate locations. All members participating by videoconference are considered present.

Notice, quorum, and audio recording still required. A quorum is still required to conduct a meeting, even by videoconference. Notice of a meeting by videoconference still must be posted in accordance with the unsuspended OMA provisions. A meeting by videoconference must be at least audio recorded, and the recording must still be available to the public.

Technical requirements have been alleviated. All requirements regarding the quality of the video and audio, including the requirement that the videoconference comply with technological standards set by the Department of Information Resources (DIR), have been suspended.

The public must have access through a conference call or link. The district does not have to open a physical

location for the public, but the public must have dial-in or conference capability allowing for two-way communication. According to the suspension order, the dial-in number or videoconference link provided in the notice must make the meeting audible to members of the public and allow for their two-way communication. According to the statement on the governor’s website, officials who hold videoconference meetings are encouraged to provide for participation via telephone for members of the public without videoconferencing capability.

Consult the experts. To help governmental bodies understand basic conferencing options, the DIR offers a how-to guide for conducting board meetings using webinar and teleconference tools at

If you have questions about the suspension order, you may contact the Office of the Attorney General at 888.672.6787 or If you have questions about teleconference and videoconference capabilities offered by DIR, you may visit or call 512.475.4700

Meeting Preparation

Be prepared. A board considering conducting a meeting by telephone or videoconference call for the first time should learn about the legal requirements and check in with the district’s technology director. The board should assess the technology resources of board members, staff members, and the general public. Based on this information, the district will need to select a platform—either a teleconferencing option or a videoconference software—that will meet the district’s needs.

As always, we encourage you to consider your options in consultation with your school attorney, and we welcome your questions on the TASB Legal Line at 800.580.5345.H

1Tex. Gov’t Code §§ 551.051, .043

2Tex. Gov’t Code § 551.007(b)

3Tex. Gov’t Code § 551.125(b)(1)

4Tex. Gov’t Code § 551.127

Mark Tilley is lead attorney for TASB Legal Services.

24 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |
San Antonio June 17–20 Marriott Rivercenter Fort Worth June 24–27 Omni
A board considering conducting a meeting by telephone or videoconference call for the first time should learn about the legal requirements and check in with the district’s technology director.

Your time to upgrade is running out.


is here!

Five reasons you need to upgrade to BoardBook Premier today:

• Your BoardBook Classic retires soon, so now is the time to make the easy transition.

• Helpful features like “Follow the Leader,” “Public Projector,” and “Hand Raising” simplify in-person and remote meetings.

• Faster document prep and distribution saves you time and money

• Templates for your attendance and minutes and automated posting keep you organized and compliant.

General Session Speakers


• Live online training webinars and self-paced training sessions make upgrading easy. Learn more at

Advocacy Adjustments

COVID-19 Forces Changes to Grassroots Procedures

TASB’s Grassroots Process sets the foundation for our advocacy efforts, and the Association’s Legislative Advisory Council (LAC) is vital to carrying forward the voice of Grassroots throughout the development of the TASB Advocacy Agenda. While this process is important, the safety and well-being of our members, staff, and the communities in which they live is of the utmost importance. For that reason, TASB canceled the LAC I meeting scheduled for April 25 in Austin and may cancel the LAC II meeting scheduled for June 19 in San Antonio if stay-at-home orders remain in effect through June.

After much deliberation among our leadership team, TASB has decided to take the regional priorities identified during the TASB Grassroots Meetings and draft statements for the 10 most commonly cited regional priorities:

• School finance and funding

• Mental health resources for students

• Maintenance or increase of the state share of public education funding

• Additional resources for school security and student safety

• Protecting school district advocacy

• Opposition to vouchers

• Staff recruitment and retention

• Reduction of state assessments

• Increasing transparency of charter operators and schools

• Limiting the expansion of charter schools

Advocacy Resolutions

TASB invites all school boards to submit new resolutions to be included in the 2020-22 Advocacy Agenda. The TASB Advocacy Agenda includes both priorities

and resolutions. Advocacy Priorities are the legislative goals arising from TASB’s Grassroots Process. Advocacy Resolutions are district-submitted positions guiding TASB’s response to other issues that might arise before the Texas Legislature and regulatory entities.

Resolution proposals will be accepted until June 15 at 11:59 p.m. Resolution proposals must be adopted by each district’s board and must be submitted using the form provided online.

Proposed resolutions are reviewed by the TASB Resolutions Committee and then by the TASB Board. In October, the 2020 Delegate Assembly will adopt approved resolutions that will form part of the 2020–22 Advocacy Agenda, which will remain in effect until the end of the 2022 TASB Delegate Assembly. Note that all current resolutions will expire with the 2018-20 Agenda in October.

TASB encourages each district to send a trustee to the TASB Delegate Assembly in Austin on October 3 to represent district interests and support advocacy positions. Learn more at tasb. org/about-tasb/governance/delegateassembly.aspx

An electronic version of the resolution submission form, the current Advocacy Agenda, and more information may be found at Contact Dax Gonzalez at 800.580.4885 or for more information.H

Dax Gonzalez is division director of TASB Governmental Relations.

26 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 | Capital Watch

Thank You, Trustees, for Your Input and Involvement

TASB Governmental Relations staff is soliciting input from LAC members and will use those comments, along with its experience with and knowledge of the Texas Legislature, to draft legislative priorities for review by the LAC in the near future.

TASB sends its appreciation to trustees who volunteered to serve on the LAC:

Region 1

• Benjamin Arjona, Hidalgo ISD

• Philip Cowen, Brownsville ISD

• Erasmo “Moe” Lopez, Weslaco ISD

• Juan Perez, Santa Rosa ISD

• Eduardo Rodriguez, South Texas ISD

• Xavier Salinas, Edinburg CISD

• Jesse Vela, Pharr-San Juan Alamo ISD

• Rafael Garza, Hidalgo ISD

Region 2

• Oscar Arredondo, West Oso ISD

• Carrie Gregory, Gregory-Portland ISD

• John Mullenax, Aransas Pass ISD

• Alice Upshaw Hawkins, Corpus Christi ISD

• Victor Hernandez, GregoryPortland ISD

Region 3

• Tami Keeling, Victoria ISD

• Margaret Pruett, Victoria ISD

(See Thank You, page 28.) | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 27 800.580.8272, ext. 2453 •
“eXceptional Governance™ for us has been encouraging. It has given us a stronger focus as a board of trustees and has empowered us to really believe that what we do makes a difference.”
the project TM TASB eXceptional Governance Board Development Experience Training for Your HR Needs Training topics: • Hiring and employment • Pay administration • Wage and hour rules • Leave and administration • Records management • Supervisory skills • 800.580.7782
—Jennifer Loftin, Trustee, Aledo ISD


• Pamela Remmers, Nordheim ISD

• Steven Roberts, Wharton ISD

Region 4

• Jerry Adkins, Brazosport ISD

• Hal Biery, Texas City ISD

• Jennifer Broddle, Clear Creek ISD

• Minda Caesar, Spring Branch ISD

• Don Davis, Spring ISD

• Julie Hinaman, CypressFairbanks ISD

• Deborah Jensen, Spring ISD

• Nancy Morrison, Humble ISD

• Ben Pape, Goose Creek CISD

• Nathaniel Richardson, Royal ISD

• Steven Dennis, Channelview ISD

• Doug James, Klein ISD

Region 5

• Andrew Brooks, Hardin-Jefferson ISD

• Marlene Courmier, Little CypressMauriceville CISD

• Kay DeCuir, Nederland ISD

• Ruth Hancock, West Orange Cove CISD

• Becky Rutledge, Bridge City ISD

Region 6

• Amy Jarvis, Navasota ISD

• Scott Moore, Conroe ISD

• Suzanne Soto, Splendora ISD

• David Stasny, Bryan ISD

• Audrey Young, Apple Springs ISD

Region 7

• Cascey Freeman, Overton ISD

• Joe Morris, Troup ISD

• David Proctor, Overton ISD

• Pamela Raney, Overton ISD

• Thomas Stewart, Neches ISD

Region 8

• Bobby Bryan, Detroit ISD

• James “Skeet” Keeton, LibertyEylau ISD

• Doug Miller, Detroit ISD

• Kregg Slakey, Cooper ISD

Region 9

• Robin Bachert, Burkburnett ISD

• Les Healton, Burkburnett ISD

• Charley Lanier, Forestburg ISD

Region 10

• Jeri Chambers, Plano ISD

• Tracy Fisher, Coppell ISD

• Amy Gnadt, Allen ISD

• Barbara Jo Green, Forney ISD

• Natalie Herbert, Frisco ISD

• Tara Hrbacek, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD

• Tricia Ikard, Maypearl ISD

• John Kelso, Greenville ISD

• Jeff Striplin, Bland ISD

• Andrea Walton, Midlothian ISD

• Eric Fort, Royse City ISD

• Robert Seward, Mesquite ISD

• Cody Weaver, Plano ISD

Region 11

• David Almand, Carroll ISD

• Rick Beall, Springtown ISD

• Douglas Chadwick, Denton ISD

• Julie Cole, Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD

• Forrest Collins, Aledo ISD

• John Finnell, Cleburne ISD

• Kristi Hassett, Lewisville ISD

• Ruthie Keyes, Keller ISD

• Desiree Thomas, Mansfield ISD

• Perry Burnett, Alvarado ISD

• Karen Marcucci, Mansfield ISD

• Jenny Proznik, Lewisville ISD

Region 12

• Leah Blackard, Corsicana ISD

• Cathy Branch, Corsicana ISD

• Ann Davis, Copperas Cove ISD

• Larry “Doc” Hawthorne, Hubbard ISD

• Ed Monk, Corsicana ISD

Region 13

• Trish Bode, Leander ISD

• Ana Cortez, Manor ISD

• Renae Mitchell, Pflugerville ISD

• Edward Navarette, Florence ISD

• Heather Sheffield, Eanes ISD

• Arati Singh, Austin ISD

• Cory Vessa, Round Rock ISD

• Bryan Holubec, Thrall ISD

Region 14

• Gwen Baker, Stamford ISD

• Kenneth Brock, Baird ISD

• Emilia Moreno, Hawley ISD

• Randy Scott, Hawley ISD

• Lori Higgins, Baird ISD

Region 15

• Michael Cloy, Brownwood ISD

• Gerard Gallegos, San Angelo ISD

• Ami Mizell-Flint, San Angelo ISD

• Robert Wade, Early ISD

Region 16

• Kimberly Anderson, Amarillo ISD

• Amanda Brown, River Road ISD

• Tonya Detten, Highland Park ISD

• Lendi Jackson, Lefors ISD

Region 17

• Adolfo Cortez, Seagraves ISD

• Steve Henn, Crosbyton ISD

Region 18

• Margaret Holmes, Iraan-Sheffield ISD

• Mark Kuhn, Grandfalls-Royalty ISD

• Lorina Lujan, Kermit ISD

• Nelson Minyard, Ector County ISD

• Tammy Hawkins , Ector County ISD

• Rachel Llanez, Alpine ISD

Region 19

• Marlene Bullard, Tornillo ISD

• Myrna Hernandez, San Elizario ISD

• Cynthia Najera, Socorro ISD

• Claudia Perez, Clint ISD

• Blanca Trout, Canutillo ISD

• Annette Brigham, Canutillo ISD

• David Morales, Socorro ISD

Region 20

• Christopher Armijo, Fort Sam Houston ISD

• Ninfa Cadena, Carrizo Springs CISD

• Mario de Leon, Medina Valley ISD

• Luis Fernandez, Uvalde CISD

• Robert Fowler, Uvalde CISD

• Alejandro Guerra, Seguin ISD

• Joseph Guerra, Edgewood ISD

• Gerald Lopez, Northside ISD

• Sandy Winkley, North East ISD

• Lisa Brown, Fort Sam Houston ISD

• Andrea Nicholas, Fort Sam Houston ISD

28 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |
You (from page 27) | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 29

The Impact of COVID-19

Special Populations Resources Are Available for Districts Seeking Support during the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every facet of our lives. The world around us has seemingly been thrown into disarray. Education for the children we serve has been turned on its head. In this edition, we visit with districts in order to highlight great work being done across our state. We share information on the legal challenges faced by school board members as the methodology they use to serve students, staff, and their community shifts. We share insight into what just over a month ago would have been seen as science fiction. We’ve started to build a new normal in education resulting from this crisis.

In this first article of Facilitating Student Success, our focus is on the impact of COVID-19 and the realities of educating students with special need during these tumultuous times. Since spring break, many of you have been dealing with how to best move forward in a situation that seems bizarre and surreal. School board members, superintendents, and administrators have been called on to lead the charge into a future that more than ever feels uncharted.

This is perhaps felt as more of a tumult in the planning and implementation of services for children who have special needs served in any of your special populations programs.

Data and Resources

Prior to COVID-19, the services and supports we offered for students identified with special needs varied from the students who entered school and needed minimal supports to those who required hand-overhand assistance throughout the day. For example, Elaine had a paraprofessional

with her from the moment we assisted her off the school bus, and then throughout the day academically as well as with daily living skills. We supported Jim in each of his academic classes through extensive modifications of the curriculum, assignments, and expectations. Support for Janie was interwoven in her time with the 18+ program, where focus was made on transitional skills to help her go on to meaningful employment and lifelong engagement.

Seemingly overnight, we were tasked to design each of our students’ needs, provide an appropriate education, and support parents and loved ones in delivering services in a completely new environment. This herculean task is daunting, to say the least. Thankfully, there are numerous resources available across our state to assist us in striving forward.

How do you go about providing

services aligned with the intent and purpose of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or Section 504 that can also be done from afar? (More on these two programs can be found in the April 2020 Texas Lone Star, beginning on page 16.) While still quite gray, much guidance has been provided from the US Department of Education, Texas Education Agency, Education Service Centers (ESCs), and various partners in education.

Data abounds, and many around us are working to bring it all together. The Special Education Consolidated COVID-19 Resources on the Region 20 ESC website ( in San Antonio contains collected information from various stakeholders to assist schools in supporting students with disabilities.

Every ESC reviewed for this article has trainings and mechanisms in place to support districts in their area. ESC 19 in El Paso has created a Live Binder of strategies they are adding to daily to assist districts ( In Houston, ESC 4 has created a comprehensive list of online instructional resources for schools arranged by subject and special population ( This curated list may help districts find something that fits the needs of a particular student or group of students during this crucial time.

Get Plugged In

The plethora of resources available to those who work with students with disabilities is great. However, the difficult decisions on what to implement and how

30 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |
Facilitating Student Success

to implement sits firmly with leaders in your district. It is now vitally important to have leaders in your special populations programs who know your students and your available resources and have the ability to seek out solutions for meeting the needs of those you serve.

During this highly combustible time, it is important that you stay plugged in with the various resources as well as your district’s legal counsel to help bolster what you are doing to serve this vulnerable population.

Throughout Texas during these various stages of quarantine, it will truly take a village to meet the needs of all children. TASB’s Student Solutions is working with people across the state to help districts get plugged into the services and supports that can assist them. If you have a need that you are unsure how to meet, feel free to reach out to us. Visit, call 888.247.4829, or e-mail for more information.H

Karlyn Keller, EdD, is division director of TASB Special Education Solutions and Student Solutions.

Cleaning and Sanitizing Services for Schools

Get peace of mind that your schools are well-cleaned and sanitized with oversight services from TASB Facility Services and preferred provider Farmer Environmental. We can help you with:

• Third-party job oversight

• Finding experienced vendors

• Professional sanitation guidance

2020 Spring Workshops!

Most of our Spring Workshops have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While we will miss seeing you on the road, we are offering several virtual options to give you an engaging learning experience in the comfort of your home. We kicked it off in April and will continue with more offerings during the month of May. | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 31
Visit for upcoming session information. DETOUR TASB Preferred Provider
Learn More.

Homebound Lessons

TEA Offers Texas Home Learning Model Tool

To assist school districts, teachers, and parents facing weeks of closed schools during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) offers the Texas Home Learning Model, a tool that can be used to support quality athome learning.

The site— is designed to guide parents and students through a weekly and daily learning plan, with specific plans based on grade level and a household’s ability to access online learning versus needing only printed materials. The site offers guiding materials for teachers working with parents following the recommended plan.

The tool is optional for district use. Many districts have already established at-home learning models for their schools and families, so this site may be used in a variety of ways:

• District adopts Texas Home Learning. Districts may choose to send this resource directly to parents and teachers in the district as the recommended at-home learning model. In this scenario, districts may then focus time and resources on supporting teachers and parents with high-quality implementation.

• District modifies Texas Home Learning plans for local context. Districts may selectively pick and choose learning materials for different subject areas and grade bands to incorporate into their local at-home models. TEA has provided guidance on this website in downloadable Word documents so districts can adapt as needed for their local context.

• District chooses not to use Texas Home Learning. Districts may

continue to use their existing plans and do nothing with this site.

Considerations in Designing Plans

Materials and resources listed in this site were selected using the following criteria:

• Ease of use for parents and students in an at-home learning environment

• Matching materials available in print and digital versions to support districts whose students have varying levels of technology access

• Freely accessible materials that could be printed in high volumes in an expedited timeline

• Materials focused on supporting mastery of foundational standards in each grade level

• Materials’ ability to support all learners (e.g., English and Spanish versions of text when possible)

For teachers, the site includes an overview of the Texas Home Learning Model and how instructors can use it to support students in a local context. Teachers are encouraged to follow 10 recommended steps (outlined on the site) to guide and support home learning with students:

1. Become familiar with the Texas Home Learning Model

2. Review recommended teacher expectations

3. Complete the one-time set-up instructions for each class

4. Complete resource-specific trainings to better understand included materials

5. Coordinate with other educators working with students to streamline communications with families

6. Connect directly with each family

7. Track status of families completing one-time set-up instructions for students or obtaining print materials

8. Officially launch the home learning schedule with students and families

9. Support families and students in completing weekly learning schedule

10. Complete progress monitoring

For more information, visit

32 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |
News & Events

I THINK Delegate Assembly is the foundation of what grassroots advocacy for public education is. That’s why it’s so important to be here and to be a delegate—to cast my vote. Because you know what? If I don’t do it, who will know what we need for my local district? | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 33 Endorsed by Ready to scrub your schools from top to bottom? Supply your custodial staff with the deep-cleaning supplies they need to sanitize your schools by purchasing through the cooperative that delivers millions in member rebates each year—BuyBoard. • 800.695.2919 There’s only one BuyBoard.
—Carla Mills Windfont, Crosby ISD Texas public schools need YOUR VOICE. Register your board’s delegate today! Delegate ASSEMBLY OCTOBER 3 • DALLAS

Breaking Down Barriers

Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD Wins National Magna Award

Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD was recently named a national Magna Award winner in the 26th annual Magna Awards program, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) announced.

Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD was one of five districts named as national first place winners in the Over 20,000 Enrollment category. The Magna Awards program, sponsored by NSBA’s American School Board Journal magazine, recognizes school districts and their leaders for programs that break down barriers for underserved students. An independent panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from more than 100 submissions.

Grand prize winners were Fremont County School District #6 of Pavillion, Wyoming; Liberty Public Schools of Liberty, Missouri; and Moreno Valley Unified School District of Moreno Valley, California. This is the third year that the Magna Awards have specifically recognized school districts for their efforts to bring educational equity to their students.

“Focusing on equity requires school leaders to think differently and creatively,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Thomas J. Gentzel. “The 2020 Magna Award-winning districts showcase the amazing and innovative work going on in public schools to ensure students are supported and provided with the tools and opportunities needed to succeed.”

This year’s three grand prize winners and 15 first place winners were selected from three enrollment categories: Under 5,000 Students; 5,000 to 20,000 Students; and Over 20,000 Students.

Winners were highlighted in the April 2020 edition of the American School Board Journal. Read more about the programs at

First place winners in each category are:

Under 5,000 Students

Bergenfield Public Schools, Bergenfield, New Jersey

CodeRVA Regional High School, Richmond, Virginia

Manassas Park City Schools, Manassas, Virginia

Shawnee Public Schools, Shawnee, Oklahoma

Upper St. Clair School District, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania

5,000 to 20,000 Students

Cajon Valley Union School District, El Cajon, California

Meriden Public Schools, Meriden, Connecticut

Roseville Area Schools, Roseville, Minnesota

San Luis Coastal Unified School District, San Luis Obispo, California

Vail Unified School District, Vail, Arizona

Over 20,000 Students

Compton Unified School District, Compton, California

Guilford County Schools, Greensboro, North Carolina

Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District

Montgomery County Public Schools, Rockville, Maryland

Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Virginia Beach, VirginiaH

Fixed fuel rates you can count on.

34 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |
TASB Energy Cooperative can help your district simplify long-term budget planning by locking in a fixed, competitive rate on gasoline, diesel, and propane. Plus, we conduct the procurement process for you! Administered by Request a quote online today.

Excellence in Education Awards Finalists Announced

Forty teachers and principals from across Texas were recently named as finalists for H-E-B’s 19th annual Excellence in Education Awards program. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the retailer announced that selection of winners and awarding of more than $400,000 in cash prizes will be done via social media, with the winners announced on Facebook May 6. For more information, visit

Teacher and principal award finalists for 2020 are:

Central Texas

Rising Star Elementary

Yesenia Gomez, St. Elmo Elementary School, Austin ISD

Rising Star Secondary

James Baker, McDade High School, McDade ISD

Leadership Elementary

Kelley Hively, Baldwin Elementary School, Austin ISD

Leadership Secondary

Sarah Walker, Richards School For Young Women Leaders, Austin ISD

Lifetime Achievement Secondary

Diana Garcia, De Zavala Elementary School, San Marcos ISD

Lifetime Achievement Elementary

Victoria Longoria, Del Valle High School, Del Valle ISD

Principal Elementary

Kathy Cawthron, Berkman Elementary Arts Integration Academy, Round Rock ISD

Principal Secondary

Kathleen Burke, Killeen ISD Early College High School, Killeen ISD

San Antonio

Rising Star Elementary

Gerardo Villegas Juarez, Graebner Elementary School, San Antonio ISD

Rising Star Secondary

Priscilla Prather, Folks Middle School, Northside ISD

Leadership Elementary

Carl Dickerson, Sky Harbour Elementary School, Southwest ISD

(See Excellence, page 37.)

Recruiting Education Leaders to Chart the Future of Schools

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

Visionary Leadership at Every Step

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

To learn more, visit or call 800.580.8272, ext. 3690. | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 35

EARN CREDIT for listening to the TASB



Urban Leadership

Ramos Reelected as NSBA CUBE Chair

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) announced recently that Jacinto Ramos, Jr., of Fort Worth ISD was reelected to serve as the council’s chair. Steve Gallon of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Florida, was reelected vice-chair, and Joyce Morley of DeKalb County School District, Georgia, was reelected secretary.

Having served on the board of Texas’ fifth-largest school district since 2013, Ramos understands the unique challenges urban centers face in meeting the needs of underrepresented students. In his home district, 89 percent of the student population are students of color and 77 percent are economically disadvantaged.

Ramos and his local board have passed a racial and ethnic equity policy, invested in underperforming schools, and established an official holiday to celebrate labor and civil rights leaders Dolores Huerta and César Chávez.

Selected TASB Talks episodes are now eligible for CEC on our Online Learning Center, including:

■ Student Privacy

■ Women in Leadership

■ Supporting Teachers

■ Charter Schools and Vouchers

■ Racial Imbalance in Special Education

■ Cybersecurity Visit and log in with your myTASB credentials.

Ramos also serves as chief of board governance and leadership at the Leadership ISD organization. A probation officer for the state of Texas for many years, Ramos supervises the process by which families can resolve child support issues without going to court.

Gallon serves as vice-chair and District 1 member for Miami-Dade County Schools, Florida. A former classroom teacher, principal, and superintendent, Gallon was the recipient of CUBE’ s 2017 Benjamin Elijah Mays Lifetime Achievement Award.

Morley is a former educator and professor at the postsecondary level. A licensed psychotherapist, Morley has served as an international delegate for the World Mental Health Organization and as secretary, treasurer, and chair of the Board of Trustees for the National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation.

Steering Committee Members

The following individuals were elected or reelected to the CUBE Steering Committee:

• Ty G. Jones, Lancaster ISD

• Ray Freeman, Warrensville Heights City School District, Ohio

• Curtis Valentine, Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland

• Marques Ivey, Aurora Public Schools, Colorado

• Cindy Stuart, Hillsborough County Public Schools, Florida

One of NSBA’s equity councils, CUBE creates opportunities for urban school board leaders to gain the knowledge and skills needed to serve as effective local education policymakers and advocates for underserved students. The council supports excellence in urban school board leadership and is committed to providing all students equal opportunity to receive a high-quality education.

For more information about CUBE or NSBA’s other equity councils (the National Black Council of School Board Members, the National American Indian and Alaska Native Council of School Board Members, and the National Hispanic Council of School Board Members), visit H

36 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |

Excellence (from page 35)

Leadership Secondary

B. Patrice Bartlett, Alamo Heights High School, Alamo Heights ISD

Lifetime Achievement Elementary

Raquel Cataldo, Helotes Elementary School, Northside ISD

Lifetime Achievement Secondary

Dottie Griffith, Harris Middle School, Northeast ISD

Principal Elementary

De’Ann Upright, McAndrew Elementary School, Northside ISD

Principal Secondary

Jerry Woods, Clark High School, Northside ISD


Rising Star Elementary

Sarah Tredway, Baker-Ripley Elementary School, Promise Community Schools

Rising Star Secondary

Laura Dunham, Clear Lake High School, Clear Creek ISD

Leadership Elementary

Kathryn Mills, Mayde Creek Elementary School, Katy ISD

Leadership Secondary

Eva Lanczos, MacArthur High School, Aldine ISD

Lifetime Achievement Elementary

Lynn Odnovyun, Jamison Middle School, Pearland ISD

Lifetime Achievement Secondary

Susan Ellis, Central Middle School, Nederland ISD

Principal Elementary

Benjamin Perez, Ray Elementary School, Lamar CISD

Principal Secondary

Carlos Phillips II, Booker T. Washington High School, Houston ISD

South Texas

Rising Star Elementary

Amanda Hawes, Faulk Elementary School, Aransas Pass ISD

Rising Star Secondary

Jonathan Gain, Flour Bluff High School, Flour Bluff ISD

Leadership Elementary

Carlina Capelo-Pichardo, Cavazos Elementary School, La Joya ISD

Leadership Secondary

Porfirio Zamora, Veterans Memorial High School, Corpus Christi ISD

Lifetime Achievement Elementary

Belinda Guzman, Rembrandt Secondary School, Vanguard Academy

Lifetime Achievement Secondary

Robert Rivera, Faulk Middle School, Brownsville ISD

Principal Elementary

Josie Alvarez, Kolda Elementary School, Corpus Christi ISD

Principal Secondary

Rose Longoria, Pace Early College High School, Brownsville ISD

North Texas

Rising Star Elementary

Kali Saleh, Acton Elementary School, Granbury ISD

Rising Star Secondary

Sergio Estrada, Riverside High School, Ysleta ISD

Leadership Elementary

Morgan Castillo, Woodgate Intermediate School, Midway ISD

Leadership Secondary

Julie Schniers, Central High School, San Angelo ISD

Lifetime Achievement Elementary

Marilyn Hamilton, Boyd Elementary School, Allen ISD

Lifetime Achievement Secondary

Nicole Vickerman, Clark High School, Plano ISD

Principal Elementary

Dana Boyd, East Point Elementary School, Ysleta ISD

Principal Secondary

Kathleen Eckert, Hillwood Middle School, Keller ISD | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 37
“Education is the movement from darkness to light.”
—Allan Bloom

NSBA Announces Officer Lineup

Aldine ISD’s Garcia to Serve as Association’s President-Elect

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) announced April 6 its officer lineup for 2020-21. Charlie Wilson of Ohio’s Worthington City Schools was named president; Viola M. Garcia of Aldine ISD will serve as president-elect; and Frank S. Henderson, Jr. of Kansas’s Seaman School District will serve as secretary-treasurer. ElizaBeth “Beth” Branham of South Carolina’s Lexington School District Two will serve as the association’s immediate past president.

“I congratulate Charlie Wilson and NSBA’s officers and board members,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Thomas J. Gentzel. “Our elected leaders play a significant role in executing NSBA’s mission. Their expertise as ambassadors of local governance strengthens NSBA’s ability to advocate for public education, provide resources to our members, and help secure federal policies that prioritize public schools and the students they serve.”

Dedicated to public education and an active member of his community, Wilson has served on his local board since 2007. In 2013, Wilson served as president of the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), and he has served on the OSBA Board of Trustees, executive committee, and numerous other regional and state committees. Following his term as OSBA president, Wilson was elected by the NSBA Central Region as its representative to NSBA’s Board of Directors. He has taught as an associate professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law for more than 30 years and earned his law degree from New York University School of Law.

“I am honored to serve as NSBA’s president and to champion public education at this critical juncture in our nation’s history,” said Wilson. “Amid the rapidly changing COVID-19 crisis and an unprecedented time of uncertainty,

securing vital supports that will enable public schools to continue to serve more than 50 million students has never been more important.”

Garcia has served on the Aldine ISD Board since 1992, making her the longesttenured member of the district. A member of the Mexican American School Boards Association, Garcia has also served as that organization’s president. Garcia served as a regional director, secretary-treasurer, president, and immediate past president of TASB. Currently a professor at the University of Houston-Downtown, Garcia has promoted educational programs and students by training future teachers for local school districts.

Since 2007, Henderson has served on the Seaman USD 345 School Board in Topeka, Kansas. Henderson is a past president of the Kansas Association of School Boards and a former commissioner with the Education Commission of the States,

■ Web-based direct service documentation and reporting software

■ Training and best-practice guidance

■ User-friendly documentation process

■ Multi-tiered SHARS administration program

■ Step-by-step help with cost reporting and certification of funds

38 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 |
Your district’s budget is limited. TASB Special Education Solutions can help you optimize eligible SHARS revenue through: Contact us for a low-cost solution. 888.630.6606 •

2019–20 Business Recognition Program

actions of its members.”—Coretta Scott King

in addition to holding other leadership roles on various school committees and work groups. In 2015, Henderson was elected to serve as a Western Region Director on NSBA’s Board of Directors. Henderson is the deputy director of the Topeka Rescue Mission.

A longstanding school board member and public school advocate, Branham has served on the Lexington School District Two Board since 2000, served as president and a member of the board of directors with the South Carolina School Boards Association, and is active with many education, community, and business organizations. Branham is the first South Carolinian to hold the office of NSBA president. Branham started her career as an educator, teaching English at Brookland-Cayce High School in South Carolina. She later earned a law degree and today has her own practice in West Columbia.

“I want to thank Beth Branham and the outgoing board members for their tireless work for NSBA and the schoolchildren in their district,” said Gentzel. “Their commitment to public education and, more recently, helping their community during this unprecedented crisis

caused by the coronavirus is inspiring.”

Ex-officio Directors

Serving as NSBA Ex-officio Directors for 2020-21 are:

• Jacinto Ramos, Jr., Fort Worth ISD, chair of the Council of Urban Boards of Education

• Armando Rodriguez, Canutillo ISD, chair of the National Hispanic Council of School Board Members

• Devin Del Palacio, Tolleson (Arizona) Union High School District, chair of the National Black Council of School Board Members

• David Snyder, Fremont County (Wyoming) School District #21, chair of the National American Indian and Alaska Native Council of School Board Members

• Kirk Schneidawind, Minnesota School Boards Association, chair of the Organization for the State Association Executive Directors

• James A. Keith, Adams & Reese Law Firm (Mississippi), chair of the Council of School Attorneys

• Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA executive directorH

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

• Alba-Golden ISD. Superintendent.

Application deadline: May 13.

For more information about vacancies or services provided by TASB’s Executive Search Services, call 800.580.8272, e-mail, or visit | May 2020 | Texas Lone Star 39
local businesses and organizations for supporting Texas public schools. Submit names using the online form. Receive an individual presentation packet for each honoree .
• 800.580.8272
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate

Bulletin Board

TASBO Offers Meal Safety Tips

Citing the COVID-19 crisis as a vitally important time to employ the highest of food safety protocols—with many districts serving meals to students and families in need—the Texas Association of School Business Officials has posted a webpage with tips on food service safety. At, eight key safety tips are posted for all school district personnel who serve emergency meals in their communities:

1. When employees show up at site, offer a questionnaire and request that all employees check their temperatures on site to be sure they don’t have a fever. While it is illegal to ask an employee if he or she has COVID-19, it’s essential to quickly identify anyone who is presenting any symptoms of sickness—and compassionately and promptly send them home.

2. Use an egg timer to be sure your team is consistently handwashing, sanitizing, and disinfecting for the sufficient amount of time (20 seconds or more) to make those efforts are as effective as possible.

3. Ensure that all food is prepared with special attention to proper temperatures: Record food temperatures throughout preparation and service. (Store foods under refrigeration up to the point of service for cold foods; store hot foods in warming units at 135 degrees or above.)

4. Prep well ahead to fill all orders; getting behind can compromise safety.

5. When serving, eliminate any unnecessary touch points for the entire team. (Example: Before starting food service, prop open all doors.)

6. Try to eliminate physical contact with anyone who is picking up meals. In addition to using gloves and masks, many serving teams place meals on carts so that parents can pick up the meals with maximum social distancing from servers. At the very least, don’t allow staff to reach over individuals in the car to place food.

7. Draw sidewalk chalk lines or use tape lines to help those standing in line to consistently observe a six-foot separation between every person.

8. Keep employee work groups small and workstations spread out as far apart from each other as possible. (It is highly recommended to segregate the kitchen team from the serving team to avoid any contact between these teams.)

SOTY Nominations Deadline Extended

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the nominations deadline for the 2020 Superintendent of the Year (SOTY) awards program has been extended to May 8. Since 1984, the SOTY awards program has honored outstanding administrators for achievement and excellence in public school administration. These school leaders exhibit exemplary and visionary leadership toward improving student performance. They are chosen for their strong leadership skills, dedication to improving the quality of education in their districts, and commitment to public support and involvement in education.

The SOTY award winner’s district receives a $5,000 award, which will be presented at the 2020 TASA/TASB Convention in Dallas. The four state finalists’ districts receive $1,000 each. The awards program is underwritten by Balfour and sponsored by TASB. Entries must be submitted to the designated regional education service centers. Nomination materials are posted online at under “Services.” At the Services page, look for the “Communications and PR” link at left. For more information, call 800.580.8272 or e-mail

TASA Ratifies 2020-21 Leadership

On March 27, the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) Executive Committee ratified the election of Sunnyvale ISD Superintendent Doug Williams as 2020-21 TASA president-elect. He currently serves as the 2019-20 TASA vice-president.

The committee also elected Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Charles Dupre as Legislative Committee chair. Northside ISD Superintendent Brian Woods assumes the position of 2020-21 TASA president on June 1, when Williams and Dupre begin their one-year terms.

Bryan ISD Superintendent Christie Whitbeck won the recent election for the Region 6 position on the TASA Executive Committee. Her two-year term will begin June 1. Joining the Executive Committee June 1 as at-large members will be Fort Sam Houston ISD Superintendent Gary Bates and Weslaco ISD Superintendent Priscilla Canales.

The term for at-large positions held by Denton ISD Superintendent Jamie Wilson and Allen ISD Superintendent Scott Niven expires May 31. The TASA Executive Committee approved their appointments to the committee March 27.

NSBA Names Chávez Executive Director

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) announced April 20 it has appointed Anna Maria Chávez as NSBA executive director and chief executive officer (CEO).

Chávez will be responsible for leading NSBA’s staff to advance the association’s mission and grow the value of the organization. She will lead efforts to expand on NSBA’s federal, legal, and public advocacy.

Chávez served as interim president and CEO for the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Previously, she was NCOA’s executive vice-president and chief growth officer. For five years, Chávez served as chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of the USA.

Chávez succeeds Thomas J. Gentzel, who is retiring after more than 40 years of service on behalf of school boards. Gentzel has led NSBA for the past seven and a half years.

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

Celebrating Teachers

Raise Your Hand Texas Kicks Off Campaign to Honor Teaching Profession

Q:Have you heard about the Teachers Can advertisements?

A: Yes! The ads are wonderful.

We’ve all heard that horrible mantra, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” This spring the folks at Raise Your Hand Texas decided to turn that old adage on its head. They have rolled out a teacher appreciation effort designed to honor the profession and publicize the dedicated work of teachers in every community.

have parents stopped encouraging their children to become teachers?

An Unpopular Profession?

There is a litany of answers to that question, including the almost universal idea that teachers are drowning in state and federal legislation that has turned their work away from a focus on students and toward compliance and paperwork. Another frequently cited reason is that bright students can earn a higher income in other fields of endeavor. Still others point to the general disregard for teaching, the lack of respect our society accords to teachers.

Teachers truly do shape the future one child at a time, and while that is true on the macro level, the micro stories—the personal testimonies— are the most heart-warming and inspirational.

Teachers Make a Difference

I think almost every adult can point to an outstanding teacher who made a lasting impression on them, in some cases changing the trajectory of life for that person. Ask the question at a dinner party, “Who is your most memorable teacher and why?” and just wait for the great stories to flow.

Teachers truly do shape the future one child at a time, and while that is true on the macro level, the micro stories— the personal testimonies—are the most heart-warming and inspirational. And this begs the question: Why has teaching gotten such a bad rap? Why are fewer and fewer students choosing this career that has such long-lasting effects? Why

Regardless of what has led to the current circumstance, researchers report that fewer young people are training to be teachers and fewer teachers are staying in the field as the years pass. It doesn’t take much to realize that our nation will be the worse for it when we run short of teachers for our children.

Parents Attempting Teaching

And then the pandemic changed our lives, and the value of teachers for our children was suddenly in the news and on social media as parents struggled to keep students learning while they sheltered in place in their homes. I know we all saw the funny memes and wry reports from

parents who struggled with their new responsibilities for academic content. Brushing up on geometry or French II was only part of the problem for the otherwise successful career people who tried to accept their new assignments.

At the same time, we saw teachers doing everything they could to continue to serve and support their students. From drive-by good wishes from teachers to young students who missed their classrooms to the extraordinary shift to technology-based and remote learning models, the dedication of teachers was inescapable and undeniable.

Encouraging, Appreciating Teachers

The Teachers Can campaign is a welcome pat on the back for teachers. You can see the great work that has gone into the effort at Take a look at the video and watch for the ads that are starting to appear in various media.

But go a step farther. Nominate a teacher for recognition. We all know teachers who deserve to be honored, so take a moment and submit their names and stories to the TeachersCan website. Plans call for teachers to be awarded prizes and recognitions throughout the National Teacher Appreciation Week, scheduled for May 4-8.

But the fun doesn’t end in May. The campaign is meant to ramp up over the course of the next year, with more opportunities to celebrate the profession as well as the individuals serving in our schools. There is no better time than now to speak up about how Teachers Can.H

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

42 Texas Lone Star | May 2020 | Q & A

She is counting on you. Speak up for our children. Speak up for Texas public schools.
NONPROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PAID AUSTIN TEXAS PERMIT NO 1422 Texas Association of School Boards P.O. Box 400 Austin, Texas 78767-0400 Application period May 1–July 1 Email to request an application and visit for more information. Scholarships for tuition and travel are available. Answer the call. 36 people. 5 destinations. 1 mission. Join
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.