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Relating to public school organization, accountability, and fiscal
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 1365 would make a number of changes to the school accountability system in order to keep the public school accountability and campus turnaround system intact while complying with a Third Court of Appeals decision that nullified parts of the law. Some major provisions (but not an exhaustive list) are enumerated below.
Among other things, the bill would create a "Not rated" designation to apply to a school district under a disaster declaration or for causes of loss of data integrity due to breaches or other failures. The bill would establish that delegation of ministerial and executive functions by the Commissioner of Education is a valid delegation of authority. The bill would also revise the commissioner's authority with respect to special investigations and would allow the commissioner to authorize a modification of an approved campus turnaround plan under certain circumstances. Special evaluation methods would be created for the 2020-2021 school year.
SB 1365 would require the TEA to evaluate each districts’ total number of unacceptable ratings since the 2012-2013 school year and use that number as the base number of consecutive years moving forward.
The bill would grant the commissioner even greater authority by expanding the cases under which an appeal is not granted and prohibiting a judge from substituting a judge’s judgment for that of the commissioner’s when reviewing certain discretionary decisions made by the commissioner.
Administering a system of public education is a core function of state government, so the state ought to do a good job of it. The school accountability system and campus turnaround plan play a crucial role in ensuring that quality education is available to all Texans. SB 1365 keeps the accountability system intact by making adjustments to comply with a court ruling.
However, there is concern that the bill grants the Education Commissioner excessive authority by preventing a judge from making a ruling in certain instances involving discretionary decisions. Decisions made by an appointed official should not be excluded from judicial purview, even discretionary ones. We recommend this provision be removed from the bill.
Texas Action is neutral on SB 1365.