CONTACT AND WARN SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO NOT ADOPT
THE TASB ALTERNATIVE POLICY
A problem has just arisen concerning the Texas Association of School
Boards ("TASB"). TASB is a non-governmental organization that
school districts can voluntarily join. Most Texas schools are
members. As part of the membership benefits, schools receive
suggested policies that TASB attorneys draft. Since it is less
expensive to simply adopt these ready-made TASB policies than paying
their own attorneys to draft policies, most school boards take the
path of least resistance and adopt the TASB policies without much
thought. Because TASB has been around for so long, TASB has become
almost territorial over setting the policies for Texas schools, and
I have observed TASB becoming, in my opinion, increasingly liberal
and prone to giving bad advice to schools, particularly in the area
of faith-based legal issues.
THIS IS WHAT
On July 27th, TASB emailed Texas school districts a package of
documents entitled “Student Expression—Urgent Starting Points”
addressing the new Act. Bewilderingly, in addition to the Act’s
recommended Model Policy, TASB submitted to schools an “alternative
policy” of its own (to compete with the Legislature’s
recommended Model Policy) which significantly deviates from the
Act’s Model Policy and significantly deviates from the Act itself.
As part of its alternative policy, TASB has added its own
definitions to key phrases in the Act, having no support in the Act
or in law (and, in fact, contradictory to the words, meaning, and
legislative history of the Act). The definitions manufactured by
TASB have the effect of severely restricting the application of the
Act (with the potential of making the Act meaningless) and thwarting
the clear language, spirit, and legislative intent. It is the
author’s opinion that adoption of the TASB alternative policy will
put a school in violation of the Act and open that school to
immediate legal claims. Schools must be warned not to
adopt the TASB alternative policy. Schools should be encouraged to
simply adopt the Model Policy which is part of the Act itself and
will assure a school’s compliance with the Act.
"TO TEXAS SCHOOL
BOARDS FOR AUGUST MEETING: THE RELIGIOUS VIEWPOINTS ANTIDISCRIMINATION ACT AND STATE’S MODEL POLICY "
(click here for a copy)
explains the legal problems with the TASB alternative policy. This
document needs to get into the hands of all 1,040 school districts.
Time is short because within the few weeks, all school boards will
be voting on what policy to adopt.
or email every school district and school board member you know.
For a list of telephone numbers and emails of all school districts
and cut and paste emails into your own email going to schools.
Schools’ phone numbers and addresses are also on the same list.
Call the TASB offices at 800-580-5345 and speak to Jim
Crow, the Executive Director of TASB, or someone else in his
absence. And ask him to please have TASB withdraw its
packet and alternative policy sent out to school districts. Ask
TASB to encourage schools to adopt and follow the Model Policy that
was passed by the Texas Legislature so that schools can rest assured
of being in compliance with the Act.
email (see list below which can be copied at one time and dropped
into a single email from you) to all TASB Board members, and Jim
Crow, executive director of TASB, and Joy Baskin, director of TASB
legal services, asking them
to have TASB withdraw its packet and alternative policy sent out to
school districts, and have TASB encourage schools to adopt and
follow the Model Policy that was passed by the Texas Legislature so
that schools can rest assured of being in compliance with the Act.
You can begin your email with, “Dear Mr. Crow, Ms. Baskin, and TASB Board members.”
[Coghlan is a Houston
constitutional trial attorney and author of Those Dangerous
Student Prayers. He has represented 159 students and parents as
amici curiae before the U.S. Supreme Court on faith-based
issues, obtained the first federal injunction preventing censorship
of a student’s voluntary public prayer in Ward v. Santa Fe I.S.D.,
and is the legal author of the Religious Viewpoints
Antidiscrimination Act. Website
www.kellycoghlan.com. The article’s contents are the personal
opinions of the author and are not legal advice, warranties or