A Guide to Texas Education Law
When you send your children to school, you want to trust that they are safe and receiving the best education possible. But some education laws can get in the way of your child’s education if you don’t understand how they work. Education law in Texas can be confusing and frustrating, especially when it’s your child who’s suffering because of it. Working with an experienced education attorney can help you understand the various inner workings of school laws.
Texas state law requires all children between the ages of six and 18 to attend school. However, there are several exemptions under Texas Education Code Section 25.086 that can affect a child’s attendance requirements. For example, a child who is at least 17 years of age and is enrolled in a GED program or has a GED or high school diploma does not need to be in school.
In most school districts, public schools must provide a minimum of 75,600 minutes of instruction throughout the school year. A student must attend at least 90% of these instructional minutes, according to Texas Education Code Section 25.092. If a child has excessive absences, they may repeat a year or have to take additional credits to restore their attendance.
The state of Texas does recognize a student’s individual right to practice religious prayer in a non-disruptive manner. Under Texas Education Code Section 25.082, students can have a period of silence at the start of the school day. During this time they may pray or perform other religious practices. However, constitutional restrictions prevent school districts from actively participating in activities considered religious observances. This means your child will have the time they need to pray but should never be forced to do so.
Physical and Mental Disability Laws
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 established federal laws that affect public schooling. Texas schools must provide adequate accommodation for students with physical and mental disabilities. If your child has a disability, you can file for a 504 plan or an individualized education program (IEP). Together with your attorney and your child’s school, you can create an individualized plan designed to help your child receive the best education they can. Your child’s school should provide reasonable modifications that allow students to navigate education with their disability. An example would be allowing additional time for completing a test. If your child’s school is not willing to provide these accommodations, you and your lawyer can appeal to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) for further assistance.
School District Immunity Laws
Texas Education Code Section 22.0511 details the Immunity from Liability clause that benefits Texas public schools. This law essentially establishes that no school district employee can be held responsible for injury or property damage that a student suffers if the act was within their normal duties. However, what constitutes an employee’s ‘normal duties’ is not well defined, and school district immunity works hard to spin situations in favor of the employees.
If your child was injured or harmed in any way while at school, you may not be able to file a lawsuit against the offender. However, many school districts do offer solutions outside of a lawsuit that can help protect your child’s rights and alleviate your new financial burdens. By working with an education lawyer, you can navigate these alternatives to find a beneficial compromise.
The only major exception to school immunity is a bus accident. Section B of Texas Education Code Section 22.0511 does omit motor vehicle accidents from the school district immunity clause. This means that if your child was injured while riding on a public school bus, you may be able to seek legal action for compensation.
Protecting Your Child’s Rights in Education Law
Do you feel that your child’s rights were violated in any way? You have the power to seek justice on their behalf. With the help of a trained and experienced education lawyer, you can file a complaint through the school grievance process. This method forces school staff and the board of trustees to address your concerns. They must reply in a timely manner to resolve the issue. If they are unable to provide the resolution needed for your child, you and your attorney can seek additional intervention through the school board or other government organizations.
Need Help with Texas Education Law?
If your child is struggling in school or the school is violating their rights, let the Hager Law Firm help. Our commitment is always to put the children first and fight hard to protect their rights. Don’t let Texas education laws put you off from providing a high-quality education for your child. Call us today at (903) 466-0001 to schedule a consultation about your child’s case. We won’t rest until we find a proper resolution.