Senate Bill 1882 is a 2017 law that encourages school districts to partner with outside entities, including charters, in the operation of struggling campuses. These partnerships are growing in Texas because districts that participate in them receive extra state funding. TSTA is concerned because, as allowed by the state education commissioner, these partnerships can sacrifice important educational standards for students and endanger contractual rights of school employees.
In late December, the Texas Education Agency released two rule proposals related to SB1882 partnerships. If adopted as proposed, these rules would likely be used to further facilitate SB1882 partnerships with open-enrollment charter schools. These rules, which TSTA government relations specialist Laura Atlas Kravitz testified against, would increase opportunities for charters to expand in Texas, while limiting their accountability and granting them authority over the use of state and federal funds.
Among other things, one proposed rule change would seemingly prohibit districts from making any SB1882 contract with a charter contingent on the accountability ratings the affected campus receives throughout the duration of the contract. As partnership contracts can have terms as long as 10 years, low accountability ratings without repercussions could cause severe harm not only to the campus receiving them, but also to the district as a whole. TSTA is hopeful that TEA will change the rule’s language to make it clear that districts will be able to hold charters accountable for performance in SB1882 partnerships.
Additionally, the proposed rules would require districts in a partnership to grant a charter partner’s request to reassign any district employee within 15 working days. This means a district would have three weeks to move teachers and other personnel out of the campus as opposed to a presumption of changes taking place at the end of the year. This proposed requirement, coupled with the statutory requirement for districts to honor pre-existing contracts, would cause disruptions for students and cause staffing and placement issues.