Texas educators who work in public schools have accepted a position that involves public trust. When that trust is violated, many parents and good teachers find themselves wondering what to do in order to hold these educators and school administrators accountable.
The answer is found in understanding the State Board for Educator Certification, also known as the SBEC.
I am not an attorney, nor am I giving legal advice. However, I am sharing what I see as valuable information I received from attending a webinar by Stuart Baggish, an attorney who formerly worked for the Texas Education Agency, along with parental-rights groups Concerned Parents of Texas and It Takes A Family.
This information empowers parents wanting to protect their kids and all the good teachers who feel scared to speak up for fear of retaliation from their colleagues, with a method of accountability against the educators in Texas public schools who are violating Texas laws.
Educators, including public school teachers, principals, and superintendents, all hold an SBEC—an educator’s certificate issued by the State Board for Educator Certification.
There are consequences for violating the Texas Administrative Code and the Texas Education Code for everyone who holds these certificates.
Baggish used the analogy that this is like “an attorney being disbarred.”
He explains: “The Educators’ Code of Ethics applies to an SBEC certificate holder’s conduct at all times, in all places, under all circumstances.”
According to Baggish, a well-founded, well-drafted complaint to the Texas Education Agency can be highly effective, and it applies to all certified educators.
The first complaint in a district will likely set a precedent for others to see how seriously this process is taken, and it can influence other educators to defy instruction from their supervisors if they are being encouraged or pressured into educator misconduct.
For parents like me, who have given the grievance process a chance and see how flawed it is, this is priceless information.
An SBEC complaint is faster than a civil suit; it is a method to enforce education laws rather than criminal laws, and it can impact educators’ livelihoods.
One notable point that I found to be interesting and worth sharing is that retaliation against parents who use this process can make things worse for the educator—it can make the sanctions they face worse.
Don’t fear retaliation by educators engaging in misconduct.
Everyone, from parents to educators, has the right—and in some cases, the obligation—to report these violations to the TEA.
Parents have rights protected by law. It is enforceable.
Teachers have rights protected by law. Supervisors cannot force you to do anything that goes against the law. For example, this includes ethical violations such as deceptively hiding the use of the term “SEL,” also known as social emotional learning, because it is getting attention from parents. It violates ethical codes and laws.
You don’t have to fear retaliation. The supervisor will face their SBEC being in jeopardy if a complaint is made. (Links to resources for filing complaints are listed below.)
Baggish advises creating a general complaint and only checking the educator misconduct box to avoid it being routed to the wrong department within the TEA.
Be sure your complaint includes documentation and the specific Texas Administrative Code and/or Texas Education Code violation(s) and submit it to the TEA.
Note that the TEA says it is “receiving an unprecedented number of concerns.” Be patient but persistent. Our kids are worth it.
- TEA Complaint Process: tea.texas.gov/about-tea/contact-us/complaints/tea-complaints-management
- Online complaint form: form.jotform.com/TXEd/generaledcomplaint
- Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 247—Educators’ Code of Ethics: tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/2018_08_247-two.pdf
- Texas Education Code, Chapter 26: statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/ED/pdf/ED.26.pdf
- Texas Education Code Chapter 28: tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/TEC%2028.002.pdf
- TEA Laws and Rules: tea.texas.gov/about-tea/laws-and-rules
- Complete Texas Education Code: statutes.capitol.texas.gov/?link=ED
- State Board for Educator Certification educator search: tealprod.tea.state.tx.us/ECOS-External/EcosOnline/VirtCert
This is a commentary published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to firstname.lastname@example.org.