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If the open enrollment public charter school board is in…

If the open enrollment public...
If the open enrollment public charter school board is in violation of the school's bylaws, how does this factor into our case? They are supposed to have 7 people, they have four and soon to be three. They are supposed to have a representative from the faculty, but none are on the board. They are supposed to have monthly meetings, the first Wednesday of each month except July. They had no meetings in May or June, but one in July, and no more planned until October. And what prevents the board from changing their own bylaws to correct all of this--i.e., now we only require three people on the board and none need to be faculty, etc.?
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Answered in 5 hours by:
8/18/2017
FamilyAttorney
Category: Education Law
Satisfied Customers: 1,549
Experience: Owner, attorney in private practice, appellate attorney, GAL & former trial lawyer, licensed for 37 years
Verified

Hello and thank you for asking for me. I'm not at home right now and won't be available today so I will opt out and let someone else answer this question for you. I'll list it that someone should be familiar with education law so they know what the question entails. If they open the other question, they can see what this question is about so that you don't have to retype it. Thank you for understanding.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Still no response....
Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Have never heard back from anyone....
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Education lawyer
Category: Education Law
Satisfied Customers: 8,311
Experience: Extensive education law experience
Verified

Hello! I am a licensed attorney, and a different expert that the one before, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I spent the early part of my career defending public schools and spent 12 years in education. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. Basically, charter schools, like most non-profits, are supposed to abide by their bylaws. If they don't, then you can file a complaint with the Texas Education Agency. It would be impossible for me to tell you what the penalties would be, but the TEA says clearly that, "Violations of duties defined by statute or rule of school district boards of trustees, governing bodies of public charter schools, or superintendents or chief operating officers of school districts and public charter schools," is enough to warrant an investigation by them. You have to make sure that all of this stuff occurred within the last two calendar years as well.

If you click here, you can see the process for doing this. Remember, I won't be able to tell you for sure what the punishment would be, but if the TEA determines that these actions were egregious enough, then they may revoke their charter.

Also, although I provided an initial answer, it’s important that you are 100% satisfied. If you feel I have done so, please rate me 5 stars and let me know if you have any follow up questions. As a side note, you can also click here in the future to request me individually.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Thanks.How do you know what a violation of duty is? Are you referring strictly to their board bylaws?Also, I don't know if you read the materials from the previous attorney, but I'd like to know what the legal hook there is for preventing them from claiming all the onlevel classes their freshman and sophomore students took will now, a year or two later, as a rising junior, be considered using new GPA calculations which gives all those classes a GPA bump equivalent to an AP class. As a transfer student, my daughter was supposed to enter as valedictorian (we have it verbally and in writing from them), and they changed all the calculations after she was accepted and received her commitment to attend, so that she has now been forced into the 7th or 8th place, in the 25th percentile--a death knell for top-tier colleges. They admit that the math they used adversely affects transfer students, but in the name of "leveling the playing field," this is what they came up with. If my daughter had been there her first two years, and took the IDENTICAL classes with the identical grades received, she would outrank herself as an incoming junior transfer student. It gets worse. The president of the board has a daughter who is a rising junior, and she *was* valedictorian until my daughter chose to attend. Unbeknownst to us, that girl presented to the board (her father) in April that all incoming junior transfer students should be stripped of their PreAP and AP GPA boost (my daughter had more preAP and AP classes entering the school than the school itself offers). Administration told the board they thought that was a bad idea to strip the transfer students' grades, but instead they would artificially boost the weighted GPA of kids who attended their first two years of high school there--like an airline loyalty bonus. If Johnny at the open-enrollment charter school received a 75, in onlevel chemistry, he now has a 94 in that class, weighted. Furthermore, they said that if the kid got commended on the STARR test in biology, they would not only grant a 1.25 point bump for biology, but just for giggles, they would do it for chemistry as well since there is no STARR test in TX for chemistry.Also, we have looked and looked for an education attorney who represents students in Texas and there seems to be little to no good ones--I guess because the money is with the districts and they are quite powerful. Know of any good ones? We hired an education advocate, but all he wants to do is take all of this to the media and make the board president look like crap. I'd rather come in the back door with the threat of a legal hook, and get them to rescind it. The challenge is that school starts on Tuesday and they know very well that the policy must be in place before the school year starts, so they refused to meet with us in an emergency meeting. They also refused to meet in September (violation of bylaws), telling us we could meet with them in October, which in theory would be too late for this to have any bearing on our daughter (or the board president's daughter). If my daughter took all AP classes and got all 100s in her junior and senior year there, she would never catch up to the hyper-inflated weighted GPA of the chosen one. Crooked crap. Would you recommend we hire an attorney (we hired one who doesn't impress us, but we couldn't find anyone else, and she is drawing up a grievance letter now (although I've written an 11-point one myself this evening) or send our own letter to arrive before the start of school?

I can see what you mean. If they are making those adjustments to their grading such that it is hurting students, then a TEA complaint is likely where you need to go. You could possibly sue in district court, but in the schools I represented, there were complaint procedures you had to file, which usually means going through the TEA. Once you go through the TEA, then you can bring a lawsuit in a local court, should you feel the need to do so.

You could bring a lawsuit on the grounds that they:

a) violated their bylaws by changing the grading policy;

b) did not change their grading policy according to the bylaws; or

c) only changed the grading policy to improve the scores of certain students.

All of these things are things the TEA must investigate, but they could also be separate causes of action. The cause of action that you would have would be breach of contract. (the reason is because the school handbook/charter is their contract with the child and parent).

Nonetheless,

One of the hardest things to do sometimes is find a lawyer that you can trust. Google searches are a good place to start, but usually the lawyers who pay the most can get bumped up to be on the first page regardless of their quality. I believe that you have probably had trouble finding a lawyer because school law is difficult, nuanced, and specialized. One thing I recommend is going through your state’s lawyer referral service (LRS). The LRS in each state typically requires the attorney to have several years of practice, be free of discipline, and have adequate staffing to assist people. Here is the link for the Texas LRS - click here.

Also, if you've hired an attorney to draw up the grievance letter, but you're unsure about her abilities, my recommendation would be to have the attorney send you the letter and advise that you will send it yourself. This will give you a chance to edit and make the necessary changes. Be sure to tell your attorney you are doing this because they will not be able to put their name on it if you make changes.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation, but if you go through the administrative grievance process, I believe that you will put you and your child in the best position. Did you have any other questions for me?

Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Education lawyer
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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
First, charter schools only have to abide by some not all of Texas Education Code. I have spoken with TEA in Curriculum, Legal, and Charter Schools. They want ME to find where the code is being violated. I am not an attorney. If I show them how their code is being violated, THEN they will investigate, and only if you have gone through the school's grievance policy. The school told us that all we can do is ask the board for an emergency meeting, then wait until October. They have nothing in their bylaws or articles of incorporation that address a grievance policy, that I have been able to find. My son (who is also not an attorney) found the following. My question is do you think that this is the legal hook we've been looking for that many other attorneys have been unable to find? Note b1 where it says EOC can't be used for rank or autoadmit (in Texas, typically the top 10%, and at UT Austin the top 7-8% are autoadmit).A transfer agreement under this section shall be filed
and preserved as a receiving district record for audit purposes of
the agency.
Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 260, Sec. 1, eff. May 30, 1995.Sec. 12.013. APPLICABILITY OF TITLE.
(P) public school accountability under Subchapters B, C, D, E, and J, Chapter 39;SUBCHAPTER B. ASSESSMENT OF ACADEMIC SKILLS
Sec. 39.0232. USE OF END-OF-COURSE ASSESSMENT INSTRUMENT AS PLACEMENT INSTRUMENT; CERTAIN USES PROHIBITED. (a) To the extent practicable, the agency shall ensure that any high school end-of-course assessment instrument developed by the agency is developed in such a manner that the assessment instrument may be used to determine the appropriate placement of a student in a course of the same subject matter at an institution of higher education.
(b) A student's performance on an end-of-course assessment instrument may not be used:
(1) in determining the student's class ranking for any purpose, including entitlement to automatic college admission under Section 51.803 or 51.804; or
(2) as a sole criterion in the determination of whether to admit the student to a general academic teaching institution in this state.
(c) Subsection (b)(2) does not prohibit a general academic teaching institution from implementing an admission policy that takes into consideration a student's performance on an end-of-course assessment instrument in addition to other criteria.
(d) In this section, "general academic teaching institution" has the meaning assigned by Section 61.003.Added by Acts 2006, 79th Leg., 3rd C.S., Ch. 5 (H.B. 1), Sec. 5.05, eff. May 31, 2006.
Amended by:
Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 211 (H.B. 5), Sec. 32(a), eff. June 10, 2013.http://www.easylawlookup.com/Texas-Law/Education-Code/par-12870/_easylookup.blp?GO=Prepare&print=&data=EDUCAT2&sidfw=&site=EASY&location=78232&spon=&p_start=393&p_end=452&p_para=12870&p_epara=14740&displayer=YES
http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/ED/htm/ED.39.htm#39
http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/ED/htm/ED.12.htm
Customer reply replied 6 months ago
I don't see how this is applicable: The cause of action that you would have would be breach of contract. (the reason is because the school handbook/charter is their contract with the child and parent).
TEA says schools have the right to establish their own GPA calculations and any changes in grading policy must be done before the first day of the new school year. They are in compliance on both of those fronts, it seems to me.

Thanks for finding that. It seems as if (b)(1) is intended to mean that the end of course assessments cannot be used for class ranking as it relates to auto admit. However, the trick is figuring out what "end of course assessment" actually means. Based on what I can see, the STARR testing is what the end of course assessment is, so if they are using it, then they may be in violation of the Ed. Code. However, because I don't know TX's Ed Code to the extent what applies to the charter schools and what doesn't, I couldn't tell you for sure. Regardless, great job on finding this. Also, thank you a million times over for the positive rating.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Please look carefully at what I sent. I believe it does apply to charters as that is what the applicability clause related to. Charter schools MUST comply with Sec 12.013. and 12.013 specifically notes Subchapter B.Sec. 12.013. APPLICABILITY OF TITLE.
(P) public school accountability under Subchapters B, C, D, E, and J, Chapter 39;
Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Correct, in Biology STARR test is EOC exam. In chemistry, there is no STARR test, so they couldn't use it as an EOC measurement.

I see what you mean. If that is the case, then it seems like you have exactly what you need to file the appropriate complaint and get your daughter back to the top of the class.

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