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TEPSA News Texas Elementary Principals & Supervisors Association

Serving Texas School Leaders January/February 2015 Vol. 72, No. 1

84th Legislative Session Position and Priorities

In the coming weeks, TEPSA leaders will share the Association’s Legislative Position and Legislative Priorities with legislators during visits to the state Capitol. Both documents are based on member feedback to the legislative survey conducted last fall. Following are the 2015 legislative priorities. Finance public schools to meet 21st century learning needs, including our growing and diverse student population: • Ensure adequate funding for increased demands and standards for students.

• Fund targeted student interventions that have proven effective for teaching and learning, especially K-2 reading resources. • Reserve public funds for public education by rejecting plans that would divert public monies to private entities. • Preserve the defined benefits plan for retired educators and ensure financial stability of the retiree health care system.

age and developmentally appropriate student assessments. • Ensure nature of effective assessments—criterion-referenced, formative, multi-year, varied, ongoing. • Restore access to voluntary, effective, full-day PreK programs. • Give children a learning chance. Limit class size in K-4 (22:1). Extend class size limits to PreK (18:1).

Promote and protect research-based student learning fundamentals: • Stop high stakes snapshot testing and ensure the nature of effective

Download position and priorities, join the Legislative Network, and stay informed in the Legislative section at

TEPSA State Officer Election and Bylaws Change Please take a few minutes to cast your evote for TEPSA state officers February 24-March 5. The ballot will also include proposed bylaws changes to align the document with current nonprofit law, clean up outdated language, and update terminology to include commonly used terms in Texas education. An email with voting link, instructions, user names and passwords

will be sent to active members in February. Complete candidate profiles will be posted online in the coming weeks and included in the next issue of the TEPSA News. If you are not currently receiving emails from TEPSA: 1. Verify that we have your current email by logging in to your profile at 2. Add to your

address book. 3. Ask your district technology director to whitelist TEPSA. 4. Email if you need additional assistance. 5. Consider using a personal email account in order to bypass your district’s spam lists, which may prohibit TEPSA information from getting to you.

Inside Mistakes School Leaders Make with Grant Simpson page 7

Best Practices with Tom W. Many page 8

Legal Ease with Kevin Lungwitz page 10

Tech Lab with Trae Kendrick page 16

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TEPSA President/Belinda Neal, EdD Texas Elementary Principals & Supervisors Association

Executive Committee Belinda Neal, EdD President, Lindale Eddie Damian President-Elect, Fort Bend Nancy Tovar First Vice President, El Paso Manuel Gonzales Second Vice President, Frisco Yolanda Delaney Secretary, Canyon Victorius Eugenio NAESP Representative, Mansfield Harley Eckhart TEPSA Executive Director

Standing Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs Pam Mitchell Advocacy Chair, Coppell Lisa McLaughlin Advocacy Vice Chair, Deer Park Stacy Davis Membership, Marketing & PR Chair, Frenship Nayeli Carriaga Membership, Marketing & PR Vice Chair, Sharyland Lauri Schroeder Programs & Services Chair, Elgin Sue Wilson Programs & Services Vice Chair, Longview Dianne Timberlake Special Committee on Elections, Hardin-Jefferson Sharon Wright Nominating Committee Chair, Plainview Scot Clayton Nominating Committee Vice Chair, Henrietta Region Presidents Dianabel Gómez-Villarreal La Joya (1) Annette Sanchez Beeville (2) Laura Longoria Victoria (3) Christina Hopkins Fort Bend (4) Paul Shipman, EdD Beaumont (5) Leah Russell Navasota (6) Tana Herring Elkhart (7) Missy Walley Chapel Hill (8) Stacey Darnall Burkburnett (9) Pam Mitchell Coppell (10) Ronnita Carridine Fort Worth (11) Wendy Haider Killeen (12) Martha Werner Round Rock (13) Kim Jones Clyde (14) Lynn Schniers San Angelo (15) Reagan Oles Claude (16) Ann Callaway Meadow (17) Tanya Bell Midland (18) Michael Mackeben Clint (19) Graciela Martinez Edgewood (20) TEPSA regions coincide with regional education service center boundaries. Staff Harley Eckhart Executive Director Joni Carlson Director of Meetings Cecilia Cortez de Magallanes Marketing & Communications Manager Ann Hopkins Membership/Standing Committees Coor. Kirsten Hund Associate Executive Director for Instruction Anita Jiles Associate Executive Director for Marketing & Communications Ken Jones Controller Trae Kendrick, EdD Chief Information Officer Elizabeth Kernan Office Manager Kristina Mora Student Council & Exhibits Coordinator Louis Silvas Webmaster Karen Terry Governance Coordinator Mark Terry Deputy Executive Director TEPSA News Published six times a year by Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association. Subscription is included in TEPSA membership dues. Postage paid at Austin, Texas. Articles may be reproduced by TEPSA members without written request, provided that duplication is for an educational purpose at a nonprofit institution; copies are available without charge; and each copy includes full citation of the source.

Copyright © 2015 by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association.

Happy New Year! Let’s Cheer Loud and Cheer Proud! Cheer coaches are often heard yelling words and phrases such as “Louder!” or “Keep your heads up!” Isn’t that exactly what we do as cheerleaders of our campuses? It’s our job to constantly encourage and cheer on our students and staff.

Each day is filled with great things happening in our classrooms across the state, and the need to keep cheering is ongoing. The situations that many of our students face on a daily basis are a lot to overcome, much less understand. Unfunded mandates continue to place challenges on teachers and administrators as we strive to reach high standards while dealing with the many concerns that our students bring to the classroom each day. We, as school leaders, must cheer especially loud and proud for our schools during the 84th Texas Legislative Session. We need legislators to hear your stories of all the great things going on each and every day on your campus. If we don’t share the good news, who will? If we don’t discuss the real needs of our students, who will? Let’s join together to advocate for our students! It’s not the stories of students making all As or passing state mandated tests that turn the heads of legislators. It’s the stories of the day-to-day struggles of students who are accomplishing great things because of what our schools provide. It’s the stories of students who are overcoming social and emotional issues and being provided opportunities at school that may not be found in any other area of their lives. I am proud of what we do, and I am proud of what our Texas public schools stand for. I am proud of the individuals who choose each day to commit to improving the lives of young people. With approximately 6,000 TEPSA members in this great state we have the power to be heard! TEPSA staff will closely monitor the session and represent us, but it is crucial that we stay informed and share our input. As you set your New Year’s goals, I encourage each of you to set a goal to join me in actively advocating for our students. If each one of us made at least one call, think of the possibilities! We need the future of our children to be a priority during this legislative session. Keep cheering for children!

Contact TEPSA 501 East 10th Street Austin, TX 78701 512-478-5268 800-252-3621 Fax: 512-478-1502



News Briefs Prep Program Enrollment Drops

Report Makes Recommendations for Texas PreK

According to federal estimates from the U.S. Department of Education’s postsecondary data collection, from 2004-2012, enrollment in university teacher-preparation programs has fallen nationwide by about 10 percent. Since 2010, the decline has accelerated and California, New York, and Texas, among the largest producers of teachers, have been particularly affected. The shortage has led districts to hire more teachers prepared through alternative programs, which some worry can have consequences on overall educator quality.

A recent Raise Your Hand Texas report lays out a plan for improving educational outcomes for the state’s youngest learners. “Pre-kindergarten for the Modern Age: A Scalable, Affordable, High Quality Plan for Texas” calls for creating greater alignment between the research base and Texas PreK policy and practice. Recommendations include: • Fund high-quality, targeted full-day PreK • Formally adopt the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines and provide a list of curricula that covers literacy, language, math, and self-regulation in alignment with these standards. • Require Targeted PreK Specific Professional Development aligned to focus on high-quality teacher-student interactions and training in effective use of curricular tools. • Require effective adult-child ratios as close as 1:10. • Require PreK programs to participate in uniform measurement and data collection under the Texas Student Data System. • Require districts to collect and report data regarding children’s learning and teachers’ skills.

Source: Sawchuk, S. (2014, October 21). “Steep drops seen in teacher-prep enrollment numbers. California and other big states particularly hard hit, raising supply concerns.” Education Week. Vol. 34. No 09. pp 1,10. Available at articles/2014/10/22/09enroll.h34.html?r=1817 029123&preview=1#trends.

View the full report at Source: Pianta, R.C. & Wolcott, C. (2014, November). “Pre-Kindergarten for the Modern Age: A Scalable, Affordable, High-Quality Plan for Texas.” Raise Your Hand Texas.

Wonders in STAAR Writing Presented by Randi Whitney, The Writing Academy Two Part Webinar Series: January 13 and 27 | 3-4:15pm Central Part 1: Know When to Hold Them, Know When to Fold Them: Making Writing Come Alive! Part 1 focuses on Narrative and Expository writing. Develop an understanding of Progression and the difference between the Topic and the Charge using a foldable graphic organizer. Help your students learn to use their whole body in the writing process, and they will remember what you have taught them. Part 2: CSI (Comma Splice Investigator): Investigate Revision and Editing Like Never Before! Part 2 tackles Revising and Editing. Learn how to take spelling, word choice and grammar to an attainable and memorable level by learning symbols that speak louder than labels for parts of speech. See how Comma Drama comes to life and how CSI (Comma Splice Investigators) solves the craziest comma crimes. All of this will lead to amazing sentences and sentence fluency never thought possible! Registration (Provides one login per location and campus access to recording.) • Member $199 • Nonmember $299 Register by January 12. Visit


January/February 2015

News Briefs Voucher Program in TEA Grant Application The Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) application to the U.S. Department of Education for a federal preschool expansion grant that would provide $30 million per year over four years for expansion of current PreK programs contains provisions for implementing a PreK voucher program. The program would allow TEA to divert federal funds to private institutions even though those funds are clearly intended for PreK programs for Texas public school children which are already underfunded. Selecting 15 high-needs communities that would be eligible to participate, TEA collaborated with outside stakeholders to develop four PreK models including Model 4 which would allow parents to use public funds to send their children to the public or private PreK program of their choice through a lottery application process. TEPSA and other members of the Coalition for Public Schools sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan expressing concern over the voucher program and asking that Model 4 be rejected. Read the letter at

Resources for Educators: Changing Demographics Across the nation for the first time this school year, a majority of students in K-12 schools will be children of color. Education Week’s “The Changing Demographics of America’s Schools” gathers stories that examine what the shifts in demographics mean for educators, students and communities. Visit http:// to learn more and share your school’s story. Help teachers address the needs of students from diverse cultural backgrounds by sharing edutopia’s collection of culturally responsive teaching (CRT) videos at blog/five-minute-film-festival-culturally-responsive-teaching. A sample of topics includes: • Office Chat - Culturally Responsive Teaching: Discover initial ways to incorporate culturally responsive teaching methods into classrooms. • Building Trust With Families: Learn from a panel of teachers and principals organized by Colorín Colorado to connect with the families of ELLs. • Expanding Teacher Self-Knowledge: Since bias is often unconscious, one of the first things a culturally responsive teacher can do is be aware of assumptions about themselves and their students. This quick tip from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance initiative explains the value of self-reflection. Plus, don’t miss February’s Lunch and Learn with Homa Tavangar on Growing Up Global. See page 16. Sources: Education Week. (2014, August 21). The Changing Demographics of America’s Schools. Available at edutopia. (2014, September 26). Five-Minute Film Festival: Culturally Responsive Teaching. Available at TEPSA News

Enrollment Numbers for Homeless Students Increase According to recently released U.S. Department of Education data, a record 1,258,182 homeless students enrolled in public schools during the 2012-2013 school year, an 8 percent increase from the prior year. Schools were also required to report whether homeless students were living with their parents or on their own. The data shows that nearly 76,000 homeless students were classified as “unaccompanied.” The data also found: • 75 percent of homeless students were sharing homes with other families. • 16 percent lived in shelters. • 6 percent lived in hotels or motels. • 3 percent did not have any shelter. View “Education for Homeless Children and Youth” at downloads/data-comp-1011-1213.pdf. Access additional resources compiled by TEPSA at docs/tepsa_septoct_news_2014. Source: Blad, E. (2014, September 23). “Enrollment of homeless students hits new record in U.S. schools.” Education Week Blog: Rules for Engagement. Available at http://blogs.edweek. org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2014/09/enrollment_of_homeless_students_hits_new_record_in_us_schools.html.

Children’s Artwork Contest The Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) invites K-5 students in Texas to submit their artwork illustrating how they, along with their friends and family, help keep air and water clean, conserve water and energy and reduce waste. Sixteen students and one teacher will win a Samsung tablet or laptop. The contest begins January 5. Artwork must be received by March 6, 2015. Additional information is available at www. or via email at


Current Research Wireless Access at Schools

Promoting Mental Health Awareness and Wellness

Results from “The Pearson Student Mobile Device Survey 2014” concludes that students have better wireless access to the Internet at home than at school. Additional results show: • 93 percent of students have wireless access to the Internet at home, but only 62 percent have Wi-Fi at school, limiting their access to digital learning resources for personalized instruction. • A majority of students said they would like to use mobile devices in the classroom more often than they do now (71 percent of elementary); • One in 6 students attend a school where laptops or tablets are provided on a 1-to-1 basis.

A Child Trends policy report on the critical needs of children and youth with mental health issues provides several recommendations for addressing challenges and improving wellness at multiple levels including: • Inter-personal: supporting parents to engage in positive parenting; teaching young people how to resolve conflicts with adults or peers peacefully; teaching teachers and other adults how to have positive interactions with adolescents; • Institutions: creating a positive, wellness-oriented climate within schools, businesses, and other places where young people spend time; • Infrastructure and systems: providing supervised recreational activities for young people throughout communities; restricting access to firearms, drugs, and alcohol; supporting planning for community response to trauma; identifying community strengths and building on them.

Source: Meyer, L. (2014, October 15). “Report: Students lack wireless access to digital learning resources at school.” The Journal. Available at http:// report-students-lack-access-wirelessaccess-to-digital-learning-resources-atschool.aspx.

According to the report, half of Americans will experience a mental health concern at some point in their lives. Most mental health issues originate in childhood. Additionally: • Mental illness and substance abuse account for the highest burden of any disease category for people younger than 25. • Psychotropic medications are prescribed, for adolescents and adults younger than 60, more often than any other type of prescription. • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among children and young people ages 10 to 24. Read the full report at Source: Child Trends. (2014, July 2014). “Are the Children Well? A Model and Recommendations for Promoting the Mental Wellness of the Nation’s Young People.” Available at

Save the date for revamped K-2 Learning Conference! Two dates, one location: April 8 OR 9 Irving Convention Center Join lead4ward and TEPSA for a day of team learning focused on creating a strong foundation in grades K-2. New format and learning—details coming soon! Visit for updates.


January/February 2015

Mistakes School Leaders Make/Grant Simpson, PhD

Choosing the Wrong Battle


recently assisted with some training entitled, “Staying Out of the Courtroom: Conflict Management for School Administrators.” Funded by a grant from the Texas Bar Foundation, the workshop sought to establish a need in the field, increase participants’ knowledge of school law, teach processes of mediation and negotiation, and practice new skill sets. This successful pilot led to a training of trainers package available to Education Service Centers in Spring 2015. The lead trainer was Laura Otey, long-time school administrator, licensed mediator, and a teaching colleague from the 70s. My “AHA!” moment came when she described the importance of distinguishing between “positions” and “interests,” when dealing with persons in conflict. Had I known this years ago, it might have changed the script of some of the war stories that still haunt me. Why? Because it sheds light on how we can get caught up in the wrong battle. Let’s look a little deeper. Positions are what a person wants or demands, they become “stands” and are perceived as a logical and reasonable solution to the problem. Because of that, persons tend to “dig in” on positions. If we fall prey to arguing about the position, the conflict will most likely escalate. Further, positions tend to mask underlying interests that might have multiple solutions. Interests are the WHY behind the position. They are always present in conflict situations and may be intangibles, e.g., the need for respect, recognition, security. Consider the following example. An aggressive parent of a special needs student is demanding very expensive playground equipment. The principal falls for the positional trap and responds with a detailed delineation of her budget constraints and why it cannot happen. The conflict escalates with the parent invoking federal laws and threatening legal action, unless her child receives what’s needed for the least restrictive environment. The exasperated administrator calls for assistance. Human Resources sends in the mediator, who eventually poses the “interest” question to the parent, “What would buying this TEPSA News

equipment do for your child?” Without hesitation, the parent explains that it has room for five children to ride, allowing her child to play with others at recess, instead of just sitting alone in his wheelchair. Bingo! The interest is for more social interaction. Could the principal meet that need? You know it! Suddenly an impasse is imminently resolvable. I recall a mother requesting a three-way conference with her son’s teacher. She had met with her regarding a discipline situation and was very dissatisfied with the results. Seems the boy had directed abusive language toward the teacher, and the teacher made him write a hundred sentences of repentance. Not my consequence of choice, but certainly not heinous. In conferring with the teacher, her frustration was evident, and she suggested possibly moving him. The parent’s hostile language on the phone made it clear she wanted to tell that teacher off. Additionally, the parent and teacher were racially different, and this very diverse campus had recently been embroiled in heated conflicts. Knowing position vs. interests, I might have concluded more quickly that the positions were “I want that teacher punished” vs. “I want that kid out of my room.” Then, I could begin to explore what was behind these positions. Perhaps Mom was worried that her son was being treated unfairly or knew it might happen again but wanted a different response. Probably the teacher wanted to be respected as a professional and expected the student to follow the rules. Viewing the problem based on these possible interests might have unlocked an agreeable resolution to both parties. ► page 13


Best Practices/Tom Many, EdD

Double Duty Data

Understanding the Dual Roles of Using Data in a PLC “Teachers learn to draw connections between their instructional practice and student learning through the deliberate analysis of data.” -Elmore Data from common assessments has two roles in a PLC. One widely recognized use of this kind of data is to identify those students who were and were not proficient. When teachers use common assessment data to identify students who have not mastered a particular standard, they are able to provide more timely and targeted feedback during interventions. Using data in this way is a critical component of the PLC process as teams work to operationalize the belief that all kids can learn when given enough time and the right kind of support. A second legitimate use of common assessment data is to provide teachers with a way to examine their professional practice. When teams use data to analyze the effectiveness of instructional strategies they ensure the positive effect of an effective strategy is maximized while the negative impact of ineffective strategies is minimized or eliminated altogether. Using common assessment data for this second purpose serves as a powerful way to promote collaboration and continuous improvement in a PLC.

“When it comes to improving instruction and learning, it’s not the quantity of the data that counts, but how the information is used.” -Hamilton Of the two, the most widely accepted use of common assessment data is as a way to identify students who are and are not proficient. Once teams have identified students who have not mastered a particular learning target, the goal is to efficiently and effectively provide the student with more time and support without missing direct instruction in another subject.

This usually is a fairly simple and straightforward task, however, some teams find the process to be cumbersome and time consuming. Teams can spend too much time gathering, collecting, and organizing the data. In fact, too much emphasis on the mechanics of compiling data can actually prevent teams from using the data to improve student learning. At times, the sheer volume of data can be overwhelming and some teams report there is so much data they don’t have time to sort it all, and even less time to use it all. Teachers in these schools are suffering from DRIP—they are data rich but information poor—because the results from their common assessments have not been translated from data into information they can use. If a team finds that all they do is collect and compile data it may be there are too many learning targets on the assessment (the fewer the number of targets, the more clarity teachers have about the academic needs of individual students), or it may indicate a need for training around the use of protocols, or it may even mean the team is using the task of compiling data as a way of avoiding the harder conversations around using the data to improve teaching and learning. Whatever the reason, these teams are victims of what Heather Friziellie calls ‘paralysis by analysis.’ In order to avoid this frustrating condition, teams should devote 25 percent of their time to the analysis and interpretation of data and the remaining 75 percent of their time on collaboratively planning how to improve student learning. Remember, the goal is to use data, not collect it.


January/February 2015

“The best classroom assessments serve as meaningful sources of information for teachers, helping them identify what they taught well and what they need to work on.”-Guskey

or whatever explanation was offered, it simply didn’t work.” In these situations teams need to eliminate and replace the failed instructional strategy with a different one.

In order to maximize the impact of data on professional practice Michelle Forman believes, “teachers must investigate the manner in which they currently teach the skill and recast the learner-centered problem as a problem of practice.” Forman continues, “In order to reframe the learner-centered problem as a problem of instruction, teachers must reflect on the link between their instructional practice and student learning.”

Many teams have become quite competent in using data to identify which students are proficient, which students are not, and which students will need more time and support to learn. Fewer teams have been as successful using assessment data to reflect upon their professional practice and retain, refine or replace instructional strategies as necessary to improve teaching and learning.

One of the best ways to approach the task Foreman advocates is to separate the effective instructional strategies from less effective or even totally ineffective ones. As Guskey says, “Structured conversations grounded in data from quality common assessments can help teachers share strategies and collaborate on teaching techniques.” Through the careful analysis of data, teachers on collaborative teams can readily identify those practices that should be retained, refined or replaced.

“The heart of the work is in finding ways to engage school faculties in tough conversations about how their teaching impacts student learning.” -Murname

Using the unit of study as the basis of comparison, teachers identify which lessons, activities or approaches to a particular skill or concept were most effective in helping students learn. The highly effective instructional strategies are retained as part of the unit moving forward. In this way, teachers begin to create their own local norms of what best practice looks like in their classrooms. Teachers also understand that from time to time, instructional strategies will only be partially successful in helping students learn and will fall short of expectations as ways to promote mastery of specific learning targets. These are the instructional strategies, once identified, that teams commit to refine. Teachers tweak, clarify, adjust and look for better ways to implement these strategies in future lessons. Finally, some instructional strategies just do not work and need to be replaced. There are times when the majority of students answer a question incorrectly, fail to master a learning target or consistently misunderstand a concept. Guskey points out that when this happens, “it’s not a student learning problem—it’s a teaching problem.” He continues, “Whatever teaching strategy was used, whatever examples were employed,


According to Kim Marshall, the challenge faced by teacher teams and principals alike is not generating data or even collecting data, but using data to “foster the quality of relentless follow-up in every classroom, every grade level team, and every department” to improve teaching and learning. Using data from common assessments to 1) identify the students who were and were not proficient and 2) as a way to examine their professional practice can help teams achieve that goal. 

Dr. Tom Many is an author and consultant. His career in education spans more than 30 years. Read more from Dr. Many in the Resources section at

References Foreman, M.L. (2005). The Use of Assessment to Improve Instruction. The Data Wise Project Helps Schools Turn Students Assessment Data into a Tool to Enhance Organizational Performance. Harvard Graduate School of Education. Available at http:// Guskey, T. R. (2003). How Classroom Assessments Improve Learning. Educational Leadership, 60(5), 6-11. Marshall, K. (2006). Interim Assessments: Keys to successful implementation. Paper prepared for the Interim Assessment Project. New Leaders for New Schools. Accessed on November 13, 2014.


Legal Ease/Kevin Lungwitz

Understanding Student Fourth Amendment Rights (Hint: It’s not just about backpacks and lockers any more.) If you’ve attended any school law conferences, you know that students have constitutional rights at school, and a school official may be sued for violating those rights. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects all of us from an “unreasonable” governmental search and seizure of our property or being. Any search by you or a teacher of a student’s backpack, cell phone or clothing will likely constitute a governmental search. The question is whether the search is reasonable. This is where students have diminished protection. The courts have long held that at school or school events, the administrative search of a student’s property need only be “justified at its inception” and “reasonable in scope.”1 This requires a teacher or administrator to need more than a hunch a student has violated a school rule or law to justify a search, but it does not require probable cause or a search warrant.

The Intrusion Spectrum

The search must be reasonable considering the student’s age, gender and nature of the suspected infraction. Additionally, the more intrusive the search, the more suspicion needed. Think of lockers being on the lighter end of the intrusion spectrum. The lockers, after all, belong to the school and are usually issued with certain limitations. Searching a student’s clothing is more intrusive. Purses and backpacks fall somewhere in the middle. Cell phones present a legal gray area all to themselves.

Searching A Student’s Purse or Backpack New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985), a case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, remains the granddaddy of all student search cases. Its rule of law is applicable to common fact scenarios. In T.L.O., a teacher discovered a 14-year-old freshman smoking in the bathroom in violation of a school rule. An assistant principal searched T.L.O.’s purse and found a pack of cigarettes


and a package of cigarette rolling papers. Believing that rolling papers were an indication of illegal drug usage, the assistant principal opened an inner pocket of the purse and found a small amount of marijuana, a pipe, and other incriminating drugrelated items indicating she was dealing drugs. The student ultimately suffered school and criminal penalties. The student complained that the search was unreasonable. The U.S. Supreme Court held the warrant and probable cause requirements do not apply to school officials in a school setting because a student’s right to privacy was, in this instance, secondary to the overall safety of this student and the campus community. School officials have a special need for flexibility and swiftness in responding to discipline problems and safety issues. The Supreme Court held the legality of in-school searches depends on the reasonableness, under all the circumstances, of the search. Was the search justified at its inception? Was it reasonably related in scope to the circumstances that justified the search in the first place? If yes, to both questions, student searches will likely be upheld. The teaching points from T.L.O. are these: 1) The school official had reasonable suspicion school rules and laws were violated when the student was caught smoking on campus. 2) Therefore, the search of the purse for cigarettes was justified at its inception

January/February 2015

and reasonable in scope. 3) Upon stumbling upon evidence of possible drug violations (i.e., rolling papers) a search of the inner pocket for drugs—a search within a search—was also justified at its inception and reasonable in scope.

Searching A Student’s Clothing

In the latest pronouncement on student searches from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009, 13-year-old Savana Redding was accused of giving over-thecounter Ibuprofen to her fellow students. 2 She denied it. The assistant principal and a female administrative assistant searched her backpack, finding nothing to support the allegations. The assistant principal then sent Savana to the nurse for a more thorough search, where Savana was made to remove her outer clothing, told to pull out her bra, and to reveal the band of her underwear. No contraband was found. Savana and her mom sued the school and the school officials involved in the search. The Supreme Court held the assistant principal was justified in searching Savana’s outer clothing and backpack, but the strip search violated her rights. The assistant principal believed Savana was running with a rowdy crowd that was generally known for breaking rules. (Note: This alone would not likely amount to “reasonable suspicion” for a

legal ease } Webinars with Kevin Lungwitz

Upcoming Webinars

January 8: Search and Seizure: Understanding Student 4th Amendment Rights Nellie Knows, the smartest girl in 5th grade, whispers to you in the hallway. Sammy Snapchat, another 5th grade student, has texted several inappropriate pictures to Nellie’s best friend during science. As the principal, it’s time for action. You call Sammy into your office. Can you search his pockets for the contraband cell phone? What about his backpack or his locker? If you find the cell phone, can you search through Sammy’s text messages? Just the ones to Nellie’s best friend or all of them? If you don’t know the answers to these critical TEPSA News

search.) The assistant principal also had reliable information that implicated Savana in the Ibuprofen scheme. Therefore, the initial search was justified at its inception and reasonable in scope. However, the Court dialed back the historic trend toward more and more spacious school searches, stating that students have privacy zones that must be protected. A small amount of non-harmful, non-mindaltering Ibuprofen simply did not justify a strip search; plus, there was no reason to believe Savana was hiding the drugs in her underwear. The Fourth Amendment violation was triggered by “...both subjective and reasonable societal expectations of personal privacy.”3 What if the search was for a dangerous drug or weapon? It is quite possible that the gravity of the infraction could have changed the outcome of the case.

Searching A Student’s Cell Phone

There are few reported court cases regarding student cell phone searches, but there will be more in the coming years. A common scenario involves a student whose phone is confiscated by a teacher or administrator because it was being used in violation of school rules. Does this violation alone give the school official the right to search the contents of the phone? Short answer: Probably not. ► page 12

Free for members! Join Kevin Lungwitz for cur-

rent education law updates and information on legal hot topics. Archived recordings are available 24/7 to all TEPSA members. Visit

questions, you could quite possibly find yourself in a situation where you have unintentionally violated a student’s 4th Amendment Rights. February 12: Everything You Need to Know About Employee Appraisals—Including Yours It’s that time of year to get your employee appraisals completed. Learn how to stay within legal limits on these appraisals, as well as what’s new with your appraisal. Tune in for the latest about the changes that are in the works.


► Understanding Student Fourth Amendment Rights continued from page 11 In a 2006 Pennsylvania case, a teacher confiscated a student’s phone for no other reason than it was being displayed in violation of school rules.4 Then, school officials accessed information on the phone and ran a sting operation, tricking other students into responding to the decoy texts they sent from the confiscated phone. The student sued. The court applied the two-part T.L.O. test and found that seizing the phone was justified at its inception, but searching the phone—and using it to run a sting operation—was not reasonable. Score one for the student.

Until the courts in Texas define the legal boundaries of cell phone searches in a reported decision, just remember the T.L.O. two-step for all of your student searches: The search must be justified at its inception, and it must be reasonable in scope. Once the student’s violation has been revealed and contained, ask yourself if it is really necessary to go further in your search. 

In Mississippi, a court held that once a student’s phone was confiscated for violating school rules, the phone itself was contraband subject to being fully searched.5 Score one for the administration.

Endnotes 1 New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985) 2 Safford Unified Sch. Dist., No.1 v. Redding, 129 S.Ct. 2633 (2009) 3 A governmental official is immune from liability for violating a constitutional right if the right was not clearly established at the time of the violation. Here, the Supreme Court found that the T.L.O. case did not sufficiently place a school official on notice of the parameters of a student’s Fourth Amendment right. Therefore, the school officials were not liable. 4 Klump v. Nazareth Area Sch. Dist., 425 F.Supp.2d 622 (E.D. Penn. 2006) 5 J.W. v. Desoto County Sch. Dist., No. 2:09–cv–00155– MPM–DAS, 2010 WL 4394059 (N.D. Miss. Nov. 1, 2010) 6 Mendoza v. Klein Indep. Sch. Dist., No H-09-3895, slip op. at 8 (S.D. Tex. March 11, 2011); see also, Prof. Amy Vorenberg, Indecent Exposure: Do warrantless searches of a student’s cell phone violate the Fourth Amendment? 17 Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law, 62, 85 (2012) 7 G.C. v. Owensboro Public Schools, 711 F. #d 623 (6th Cir. 2013)

In an unreported case in Texas, a teacher confiscated an 8th grader’s phone while a group of students were looking at it.6 When the student denied having sent a text message, the teacher checked the phone where she found nude pictures of the student, for which the student received discipline. The court ruled that the teacher was initially justified at looking at the contents of the phone to refute the student’s denial. The court, however, refused to dismiss the student’s legal claims against the school, opining that a jury might conclude that scrolling through texts on the phone was not reasonable. Score this one as a toss-up. Finally, in the latest of these cases, a Kentucky teacher confiscated a student’s phone and looked at its contents.7 The content revealed nothing relevant and was not the subject of the discipline. The school argued the student had suffered no harm from the phone contents being reviewed. However, 6th Circuit Court of Appeals specifically rebuffed the Mississippi case above, holding that the school “failed to demonstrate how … a search of the phone would reveal evidence of criminal activity, impending contravention of additional school rules or potential harm to anyone in the school.” Even though there may have been no harm, nominal damages could be assessed against the school for the constitutional violation. Score a big one for the student.

Kevin Lungwitz is TEPSA’s Outside General Counsel.

Note: Information from Legal Ease is believed to be correct upon publication, but is not warranted and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact TEPSA or your school district attorney before taking any legal action, as specific facts or circumstances may cause a different legal outcome. Archives of past columns are available to members in Legal Resources at

Know a new principal or assistant principal? Encourage them to join TEPSA at 12

January/February 2015

► Choosing the Wrong Battle continued from page 7 That’s not what happened. The parent harangued on and on. I listened too long. The teacher sat stoically and did not make matters worse. In frustration, I summarized the parent’s concerns and kept asking, “What is it you want?” Fully admitting the behavior would happen again, she wanted the sentences never to happen again. The teacher then said, “I apologize, and if it happens again, I will call and discuss with you a consequence.” BOOM! I neither expected nor requested this response that seemed ideal. Then I watched in horror as the parent slammed her fist on the table and said, “Fine. Now I want to talk about your attitude.” Then I realized this was just about punishment, thanked and excused the teacher, and ended the conference following pithy judgments of my ineptness as a leader. Had I analyzed the situation in advance through this new lens, I would have

kept the content focused on getting the interests met, and might have prevented the ugly position from surfacing. 

Dr. Grant W. Simpson is Dean of the School of Education at St. Edward’s University. He also serves on the State Board of Educator Certification with a term expiring February 2017. Read more from Dr. Simpson in the Resources section at

Reading & Mathematics Grades 1–8 (English)/Grades 1–5 (Spanish) • Writing Grades 4 & 7 • Science Grades 5 & 8

Rigorous Instruction and Practice for the NEW Math TEKS NEW!

• Teaches through conceptual understanding using a gradual-release instructional model • Integrates process standards throughout instruction • Helps teachers instruct with point-of-use support, including strategies for differentiation and the integration of mathematical discourse

Download a FREE sample at STAAR is a federally registered trademark owned by the Texas Education Agency, and is used pursuant to license.




Association News Recognize Excellence in the Profession: Nominate an Outstanding School Leader National Assistant Principal of the Year for Texas TEPSA is currently In partnership with the National Association of seeking nominations for Elementary School Principals one current TEPSA Rethe 2015 Texas National gional Assistant Principal of the Year will be selected Distinguished Principal as the National Assistant Principal of the Year. (NDP) award. This prestigious award recognizes TEPSA Regional Assistant Principals of the Year exemplary school leaderSelected by their peers at the TEPSA region level, this ship. The award recipient award recognizes assistant principals for their efforts represents Texas at the to improve student learning. Recipients may apply NDP program in Washfor the national award. Contact your TEPSA region ington, D.C. and receives officers for application deadline. $10,000 from Mentoring Minds. Nominees Kimmie Etheredge, 2014 Texas NDP and Pam Regional TEPSANs of the Year must meet all criteria for Mitchell, 2012 Texas NDP at last year’s TEPSA Awards Reception. Photo courtesy of Provine. Selected by their peers at the TEPSA regional level, selection. Following are this award recognizes school leaders for outstandopportunities to honor ingtoservice theyou association. Contact your TEPSA excellence in the profession. Horace Mann finds another way partnerto with No one loves to form partnerships with educators more than Horace Mann. It’s why so many school welcome our region officers fordistricts information. agents into their buildings and why so many teachers take advantage of our insurance and retirement planning expertise. National Distinguished Principal A new partnership with helps donors find teachers who need financial assistance for classroom projects Excellence inbenefit Education Award Application due January 20.Teachers post their projects, donors choose projects to H-E-B big and small. support, and teachers and kids with materials delivered right to their schools. Now that’s a partnership that can help everyone. Honors outstanding public school professionals. Completed application due January 11. Contact your local agent today or visit

Special thanks to TEPSA partners:

New Math Webinar Series Coming in February

Summer Conference Hotel Block Opens

Mastering Math: Navigating the New TEKS

We are looking forward to seeing you next summer for Texas’ largest learning event for elementary school leaders! We’ve heard your requests to move the TEPSA Summer Conference to a bigger venue. After researching comparable sites, TEPSA staff concluded that the Renaissance Hotel continues to be the best value for your money.

Join Math Guru Carol Gautier, for three powerful webinars to help you and your teachers understand and implement the new TEKS. All webinars will be held 10-11am (Central). • February 2: Piecing the Puzzle Together Understand how the structure of the TEKS has strategically changed including the layering of concepts and commonalities at each grade level. • February 9: Operations and Process Standards Learn how effective math lessons move seamlessly between concrete, pictorial and abstract models that lead to deeper understanding. • February 16: Filling the Gaps and Intervention Gain strategies to help fill the gaps for all students and provide appropriate interventions to students who need them most.

Amenities include free parking, free conference WiFi, rooms that are less expensive than downtown Austin (or other city) properties, and the ability to keep registration rates comparable to prior years. Visit the Summer Conference page at for a full listing of hotels in the TEPSA block and book your room ASAP! Space fills fast.

Registration includes one live login per campus as well as access to the webinar recordings and all accompanying materials. Member $199; Nonmember $299 Register by January 30 at 14

January/February 2015


TEPSA Summer Conference

June 10-12, 2015 Austin Renaissance Hotel Spark New Vision with Keynoters

Spark New Best Practices with Featured Speakers

Making A Difference

Steve Gilliland, Author and Speaker Each of us has the potential to transform the culture of an organization through our actions and attitude. Centered on three empowering dynamics: Purpose, Passion and Pride - you will be inspired to continue Making a Difference!

Unleashing Genius #choose2matter

Angela Maiers, Educator and Author Fuel innovation, creativity and the ability to impact our learning and the world! There is genius within; let’s unleash it and #choose2matter.

Leadership Brilliance

Simon Bailey, Author and Speaker Connection begins when leaders make a commitment to bring out the best in themselves and then do the same for everyone around them. Learn how making connections will help you create a high-performing team that exceeds expectations.

Dave Burgess, Eric Sheninger, Barbara Blackburn, Erin Klein, Donalyn Miller, Ervin Knezek and Marcia Tate.

Spark New Thinking and Collaboration Submit a topic proposal by January 31.

We’re looking for outstanding leaders to present sessions with a focus on the following topics: • Innovative technology integration • Effective strategies for ELLs and at risk learners • Building 21st century skills • Middle level focus (grades 4-8) • STAAR and assessment practices • RtI implementation and interventions • Best practices for beginning administrators Complete form at Notification of selection will be sent out in March. Reserve your room. Space fills fast! Austin Renaissance Hotel block is open. Call 512-343-2626 to reserve your room. TEPSA rates: $209 single, $229 double, $239 triple, $249 quad Visit for additional hotels in the TEPSA block.

Spark New Ideas with Master Classes

Registration opens January 15. Separate fee applies. Fee includes a book which you Member: $389 (Register by May 11- $339) will receive at the conference. Descriptions available Nonmember: $628 (Register by May 11 - $578) Horace Mann finds another way to partner with you in the Summer Conference section at

No one loves to form partnerships with educators more than Horace Mann. It’s why so many school districts welcome our agents into their buildings and why so many teachers take advantage of our insurance and retirement planning expertise.

Learn more and register at

A. Sit and Get Won’t Grow Dendrites Marcia Tate, Developing Minds

B. Creating a Culture of Reading

A new partnership with helps donors find teachers who need financial assistance for classroom projects big and small. Teachers post their projects, donors choose projects to support, and teachers and kids benefit with materials delivered right to their schools. Now that’s a partnership that can help everyone.

Donalyn Miller, Author of The Book Whisperer

C. Digital Workstations for K-5

Thank you TEPSA partners:

Contact your local agent today or visit

Erin Klein, Teacher and Blogger at Kleinspiration

D. The Fundamental Five

Sean Cain, Lead Your School E. Teach Like a Pirate Dave Burgess, Author of Teach Like a Pirate

F.Motivating Struggling Students

Barbara Blackburn, Blackburn Consulting Group, Inc

G. Leading Learning 3Di: Instruction to Action Ervin Knezek, lead4ward TEPSA News


Tech Lab/Trae Kendrick, Ed.D.

Ditching Digital Disorganization You would never open up a metal file cabinet and just start stuffing files in random order, yet we do that on our computers all the time. Our desktops are cluttered with documents, as are our hard drives. It’s little wonder we have difficulty finding and retrieving documents when we need them. Try these tips to ditch digital disorganization: Avoid any permanent storage on your desktop. Your desktop is the perfect place to temporarily store documents that are in progress; however, your desktop will quickly become cluttered and cumbersome if you use it for permanent document storage.


Choose one storage location. While options work great for things like shoes and purses, it’s not so great for document storage. If you store some documents on your desktop and some on your hard drive, and some in My Documents, you’ll consistently be searching for your documents. The solution: Choose one storage location and consistently use it for all your permanent document storage.


Create a file naming system. Organize your documents into file folders using a consistent naming format. For example: Create a folder for faculty meetings. Inside that folder, create a sub-folder for each school year, e.g., 2014-15. Store your meeting agendas by year, and then you will easily be able to look back to prior years and find what you need. If you remember you did a fun team-building activity two years ago at a prior campus, you’ll easily be able to locate it.


Use the cloud. Some documents you need to be able to access from home and from school and while you’re on the road traveling. Use the cloud to store these documents, but be sure to secure your cloud storage with a password. Cloud storage options include Dropbox, Google Drive, and Apple iCloud.


Dr. Trae Kendrick is TEPSA’s Chief Information Officer. Read more tech tips in the Resources section at


Lunch Learn

Grab your lunch and join us for online learning on timely topics. Free for current members! All webinars will be held from 11-11:45am Central. No registration required. Visit

Upcoming Webinars January 7: Leadership: Managing the Transition presented by Alan November How can leaders maximize student engagement and academic achievement, and encourage teachers and students to collaborate with peers and professionals around the world? Learn ways to maximize 21st century leadership capacity, outline essential skills with practical guidelines and find creative solutions for building accountability into the process. 16

February 4: Growing Up Global presented by Homa Tavangar Learn simple, fun approaches proven to help build a global mindset among all students. Get inspired to bring the world home even if you’ve never owned a passport!

January/February 2015

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TEPSA Regional Meetings

This past fall, attendees enjoyed in-depth learning at the Assistant Principals Conference and TEPSA Tour. Visit TEPSA’s Facebook page for more photos.

January 15

Region 3 Meeting: 11:30am-1pm @ Colony Creek Country Club, Victoria Information: Laura Longoria,


Region 1 Meeting: 9-10am @ Cimarron Country Club, Mission Information: Dianabel Gomez-Villarreal,


Region 17 Meeting: 11:30am-1pm @ Lakeridge Country Club, Lubbock Information: Sylvia Suarez,

February 04

Region 16 Meeting: 9am-Noon @ Region 16 ESC, Amarillo Information: Reagan Oles,


Region 4 Meeting: 5:30-8pm @ Region 4 ESC, Houston Information: Christina Hopkins,

Region 15 Meeting: 11:45am-12:45pm @ Region 15 ESC, San Angelo Information: Cheri Braden,


Region 18 Meeting: 11:45am-12:45pm @ Region 18 ESC, Midland Information: Tanya Bell,


Region 5 Meeting: 11:30am-1pm @ Olive Garden, Beaumont Information: Julie Gauthier,

Region 13 Meeting: 11am-1pm @ Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin Information: Martha Werner,


Region 2 Meeting: Noon-1pm @ Harrison’s Landing, Corpus Christi Information: Annette Sanchez,


Region 6 Meeting: 11am-1pm @ TBD, Huntsville Information: Leah Russell,

Region 7 Meeting: 11am-1pm @ Hideaway Lake, Lindale Information: Tana Herring,


Region 19 Meeting: 5:30-8pm @ Julio’s Cafe Corona, El Paso Information: Michael Mackeben,


Region 9 Meeting: 9-10:30am @ Region 9 ESC, Wichita Falls Information: Stacey Darnall,


Region 20 Meeting: 11am-1pm @ Alamo Cafe, San Antonio Information: Graciela Martinez,


January/February 2015

Great pairs stick together Just like educators and Horace Mann Stick with Horace Mann, and we’ll work together to make sure your insurance and retirement plan continues to provide everything you need.

To learn more contact your local agent or visit

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TEPSA Highlights Additional information available at or 800-252-3621.

Calendar/Deadlines • H-E-B Excellence in Education Completed application due January 11. • Wonders in STAAR Writing- Two part writing webinar series January 13 and 27. Register by January 12. • TEPSA District Assistant Principals of the Year - Applications due January 15 to your TEPSA District President. • Summer Conference Room Block at the Austin Renaissance Hotel is open. Block fills fast - reserve early! Visit the Summer Conference page at for additional hotels. Registration opens January 15. Topic proposals are due January 31. • National Distinguished Principal Completed application due January 20. • Mastering Math: Navigating the New TEKS- Three part math webinar series February 2, 9 and 16. Register by January 30. • State Officer Elections - Vote February 24-March 5. Please recycle your TEPSA News copy.

Impact and Cost of Principal Turnover Report Calls for Increased Support and Development

A new report on the high impact and cost of principal turnover by the School Leaders Network calls for a renewed focus and commitment to providing principals with ongoing support and development throughout their career in order to improve retention and avoid the effects of “churn.” “Churn” refers to the challenges faced by schools which lose scores of experienced principals each year, requiring replacements with less effective, novice principals on an average of every three years. “Churn: The High Cost of Principal Turnover” reports: • A minimal reduction in principal turnover rates could save U.S. school districts $163 million annually. • Keeping the same school leaders in place for years has positive effects on student achievement, particularly at high-poverty schools. Principals constitute ¼ of the total school influence affecting a child’s academic performance. • The negative effect of high principal turnover on student performance reveals itself the year after the vacancy. It can take the next principal up to three years to regain positive momentum in math and English language arts performance. • It takes an average of five years to put a vision in place, improve the teaching staff and fully implement policies and practices that positively impact student performance. Read the full report at Additional resources at Source: School Leaders Network. (2014). “Churn: The High Cost of Principal Turnover.” Available at http://

2015 TEPSA January/February News  
2015 TEPSA January/February News  

In this issue: 84th Legislative Session Position and Priorities; TEPSA State Officer Election and Bylaws Change; Mistakes School Leaders Mak...