The Texas Senate Education Committee started interim hearings Dec. 8, 2015, with its first session focusing on interim charges regarding charter schools and inappropriate teacher-student relationships. TCTA’s General Counsel, Lonnie Hollingsworth Jr., testified on both charges.

Specifically, Hollingsworth stressed the need for true transparency in how charter schools are doing and in the funding they receive from various sources. Charter schools typically underperform the traditional public school district, and more charters are rated under the alternative education accountability system, which has lower thresholds to meet performance targets. Hollingsworth urged the committee to limit the use of the alternative education accountability system to only those schools that are truly dropout recovery schools. In addition, TCTA urged committee members to consider a legislative priority that would eliminate a charter school’s ability to bar admission based upon a student’s disciplinary history.

TCTA also reminded committee members that strong steps have been taken to address inappropriate teacher-student relationships, including a TCTA-initiated bill, HB 1783, which provided that a teacher may report a crime witnessed at school to any police officer with authority to investigate the crime. However, TCTA remains dedicated to continue working with the Legislature to protect students and the integrity of the teaching profession.