New Commissioner rules effective August 26, 2018, impact how school districts are required to handle unauthorized persons on campus. In 2017, the Texas Legislature amended Texas Education Code § 37.105 to require that the Commissioner of Education adopt rules regarding unauthorized persons on school property, as well as to establish procedures for persons to appeal to school districts’ boards of trustees any decisions to refuse persons entry to or eject persons from school property.
As part of the rulemaking authority granted by the amendment, TEA adopted 19 TAC §103.1207, Unauthorized Persons: Refusal of Entry, Ejection, Identification, and Appeal. Significantly, the rule establishes an appeal process for school districts to adopt as local policies and the rules must be posted on the district’s website. Here are the highlights:
- Identification may be required of any person on property under a district’s control.
- A school district administrator, school resource officer, or school district peace officer may refuse to allow a person to enter on or may eject a person from property if the person refuses to leave peaceably on request AND poses a substantial risk of harm to any person.
- A person may also be ejected or refused entry if the person behaves in a manner that is inappropriate for a school setting, as long as the administrator, resource officer, or peace officer issues a verbal warning to the person that the person’s behavior is inappropriate and may result in the person’s refusal of entry or ejection and the person persists in that behavior.
- There will be some recordkeeping involved. The rules require school districts to maintain a record of each verbal warning issued, including the name of the person to whom the warning was issued and the date of issuance.
- When a person is refused entry or ejected, they are entitled to written information explaining the appeal process established by the rules.
- For students served under Section 504 or in special education, parents and guardians who have been refused entry or ejected are entitled to “accommodations” so that they may still participate in the child’s admission, review, and dismissal committee or on the child’s § 504 team, in accordance with federal law.
- The term of a person’s refusal of entry or ejection may not exceed two years.
- A person refused entry or ejected may appeal through the school district’s existing grievance process and is permitted to address the school district’s board of trustees in person within 90 days of the commencement of the appeal, unless the appeal is granted before the school district’s board of trustees considers the appeal.
- A decision of the board of trustees to grant or deny an appeal is final but the rules do not foreclose an appeal to the Commissioner of Education under Texas Education Code §7.057.
Districts should check their local policies to make sure they align with these new requirements and take measures to train administrators and staff members on the new rules, record keeping requirements, and relevant timelines.