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New limits on teacher appraisal deficiencies and adverse employment actions for disciplinary referrals and documentation

Administrators now have to pause before taking adverse employment action or assessing appraisal deficiencies related to a teacher’s handling of student discipline, particularly classroom removals. State law now limits how you appraise teachers for disciplinary referrals and documentation and prohibits adverse employment actions.

Texas Education Code § 37.002 allows a teacher to send a student to the campus behavior coordinator’s office to maintain effective discipline in the classroom.  Teachers may remove students from class who repeatedly interfere with the teacher’s ability to communicate effectively with the students in the class or with the ability of the student’s classmates to learn and whose behavior is so unruly, disruptive, or abusive that it seriously interferes with the teacher’s ability to communicate effectively with the students in the class or with the ability of the student’s classmates to learn.

Under Senate Bill 1451, effective September 1, 2019, a teacher may document any conduct by a student that does not conform to the student code of conduct and may submit that documentation to the principal.  A school district may not discipline a teacher on the basis of such documentation.

Under Texas Education Code § 21.351, the Commissioner of Education is charged with developing a recommended appraisal process and criteria on which to appraise the performance of teachers.  The criteria must be based on observable, job-related behavior, including (1) teachers’ implementation of discipline management procedures, and (2) the performance of teachers’ students. Now, in adopting criteria related to the implementation of discipline management procedures, a teacher may not be assigned an area of deficiency in an appraisal solely on the basis of disciplinary referrals made by the teacher or documentation regarding student conduct submitted by the teacher when the teacher removes a student from class under Texas Education Code § 37.002.  However, a teacher can still be assigned an area of deficiency based on failures in classroom management.

This legislation give teachers more flexibility and protection in trying to maintain classroom discipline and documenting student misconduct.  Appraisal deficiencies will have to hone in on a teacher’s classroom management, rather than on disciplinary referrals and classroom removals.

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