The Texas Classroom Teachers Association has challenged the Texas education commissioner’s new rules regarding teacher appraisal.

In a lawsuit filed April 20, 2016, in Travis County District Court, TCTA argues the commissioner has exceeded his authority by dictating specific criteria that local school districts must use in developing their own appraisal systems.

“Clearly the commissioner has the authority to establish a state model appraisal system, which he has done,” said TCTA General Counsel Lonnie F. Hollingsworth Jr. “However, his authority does not extend to dictating terms for locally developed appraisal systems, the process for which is outlined for districts in state law.”

Texas law allows districts to use their own appraisal instrument instead of the state-recommended version. The law provides guidance on how the local instrument must be developed, and specifies only that it include criteria regarding discipline management and the performance of teachers’ students.

By prescribing how “the performance of teachers’ students” must be defined in a locally adopted appraisal instrument, the commissioner’s rules violate the aspect of the law that allows districts to determine what best suits their local needs.

TCTA has also submitted extensive comments on other aspects of the proposed rules.