Chuck Noe, PRN Education Specialist,  shares his insights on newly signed Texas legislation.  Please keep in mind that even though a bill is effective immediately, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) must go through the process of developing and posting rules before schools can begin implementing some of the laws.

HB 657 

An ARD committee (IEP team) may promote a student to the next grade level if the committee concludes that the student has made sufficient progress in the measurable academic goals contained in the student’s IEP despite not passing the STAAR.  At the beginning of each school year, a district must inform parents of the options of the ARD committee if the student does not perform satisfactorily on an assessment instrument.  Effective immediately

HB 1645 

If a district allows a student to participate in a Special Olympics event, they must allow the student to earn a district letter.  This seems to be addressing a “fairness” or discrimination issue.  Effective immediately

SB 160

TEA may not adopt or implement a performance indicator in any agency monitoring system, including the performance-based monitoring analysis system, that solely measures a school district’s or open-enrollment charter school’s aggregated number or percentage of enrolled students who receive special education services.  TEA may still collect and examine data to determine whether significant disproportionality based on race or ethnicity is occurring in the state and in the school districts and open-enrollment charter schools.  Effective 5/22/2017

HB 674

Students under grade 3 may not be placed in out-of-school suspension unless they commit an offense involving weapons, drugs, alcohol, or a violent offense.  The district or charter school may develop a positive behavior program to address this age group.  Requirements for this program are listed.  Effective immediately

SB 748

Transition planning – “modernizes the Education Code to recognize SDMAs (supported decision-making agreements) as an alternative to guardianship and maximizes the autonomy of persons with disabilities. What’s more, it requires a more comprehensive guide for school districts relating to transition planning.”  TEA must develop procedures that “specify the manner in which a student’s ARD committee is required to consider and appropriately, rather than if appropriate, address” transition planning.  It specifies that “the availability of age-appropriate instructional environments includes community settings or environments that prepare the student for postsecondary education or training, competitive integrated employment, or independent living in coordination with the student’s transition goals and objectives.”  Effective immediately

SB 1398

This bill concerns cameras in certain special education classrooms – parents may only request cameras for the self-contained classroom their child is in.  The school board may request cameras for any campus or self-contained classroom they want.  Educators may request cameras for the campuses, or self-contained classrooms that they work on or in.  The camera must monitor a room attached to the classroom used for time-out.  The required time for keeping video is reduced from 6 to 3 months.  If a request is made to view a tape, it must be kept until the person reviews the tape.  If the tape documents an alleged incident, it must be kept until the incident has been resolved, including the exhaustion of all appeals.  Districts must have policy for appealing decisions made regarding cameras, tapes, and alleged incidents.  Timelines are set for when a camera must be in place.  Cameras must operate during times extended year services are provided.  The total impact of this bill will not be known until the rules are written.  Lawyers will likely argue over how parts of this law should be interpreted.

SB 2141

This bill adds that if a person representing a parent at a due process hearing receives monetary compensation they must agree to abide by a voluntary code of ethics and professional conduct and have a written agreement that includes a process for resolving any disputes between the representative and the parent.  Effective immediately

SB 1153

Gives parents the right to receive records relating to intervention strategies for learning difficulties. It also requires that districts notify a parent of each child receiving “advanced assistance” for learning difficulties including response to intervention strategies. The notification includes a description of strategies used and the time that the student has been receiving the support. The district must report to TEA the number of students receiving intervention strategies in the district.  Effective immediately

SB 490

This bill requires TEA to collect data on the number of counselors on each campus in a district.  Effective immediately

SB 436

This bill deals with revamping the TEA Special Education Continuing Advisory Committee. The CAC has been criticized for not allowing much input from parents and the public. The purpose of this bill is to increase “transparency and opportunities for more robust public input.” It requires the committee to provide a procedure for members of the public to speak at committee meetings, to develop a policy to encourage public participation with the committee, and to submit a report to the legislature with recommended changes to state law and TEA rules relating to special education. Effective 9/1/17

Any bill can be researched at 

Under “Text”, a reader can see if the text of the bill changed after it was introduced, any fiscal costs associated with the bill, a bill analysis, a list of all who testified for or against the bill, and a summary of the committee action.  If the bill was sent to the governor, it shows, if and when it was signed.