FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2021
Houston, TX – SB 1365 authored by Senator Bettencourt (R-Houston) and sponsored by Representative Huberty (R-Kingwood) passes with 20-11 bipartisan support to clarify Texas education system oversight and accountability for ISDs. The intent is to ensure Students continue to be put FIRST by striking a balance between local control of districts and state accountability. SB 1365 implements the statutory turnaround model for low- performing or failing public schools and clarifies provisions put in place by the Legislature regarding TEA procedures when placing sanctions on accountability investigation interventions and prohibits spending school funds on challenges not authorized by statute. The need for clarification comes from a recent Third Court of Appeals ruling that reversed legislative action taken in previous years. SB1365 is sent to Governor Abbott next.
"What the legislature is doing is restoring all the reforms that have been made in the Public Education system for the last 4 years, because of a twisted Third Court of Appeals ruling, striking down the A-F reform and other actions that has passed in a bipartisan matter over the past few years," said Bettencourt. "This legislation ensures students get a quality education and don’t have to stay at a school that is failing improvement requests, IR, year after year with no accountability," he added.
The changes in SB1365 applies to school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to continue operations of the accountability and intervention. Some key provisions of SB1365 include:
- A-F rating system: Clarifies the difference between a D rating and a F rating and when and how TEA can step in. Clarifies a “D” rating is considered “needs improvement” and school districts that receive 3 years “D” ratings consequences the same sanctions of 1 year of a “F” rating.
- provides subpoena authority for investigations (from Senate Bill 215)
- ensures authority of conservator applies to the school district not the school
- Ensures due process procedures are fair for both school districts and TEA to have a opportunity to present their cases in a expedited manner in local district court.
- Makes clear schools are authorized to receive a “not rated” rating during times of disasters, like the COVID 19 pandemic which pauses but does not reset the performance rating count for failing schools.
"SB1365 makes a major difference because it makes it clear Conservators can override Local Boards of Trustees decisions as necessary. It is a very important bill for students, parents and ISDs in Texas not just HISD where issues have existed for nearly a decade," he continued. "SB1365 is a good bipartisan public policy and makes the process clear and intentional when there are failing schools, so students don’t get left behind!" Bettencourt said. "I want to thank Lt. Gov Patrick, Education Chairs Taylor & Dutton, sponsor Rep Huberty, and all those that voted for and supported SB 1365!" he concluded.