DID THE SCHOOL DISTRICT IMPROPERLY TERMINATE THE STUDENT’S TRANSFER AGREEMENT?
Case citation: Child v. Skidmore-Tynan ISD, Dkt. No. 026-R5-1110 (Comm’r Educ. August 7, 2013).
Summary: The child attended school in the Skidmore-Tynan Independent School District under a transfer agreement for the 2010-11 school year. On September 14, 2010, the school district revoked the transfer agreement. The parents appealed using the district’s grievance procedures. When the district denied their grievances, the parents appealed to the Commissioner of Education, arguing that the district violated Education Code
§§ 25.036 (transfer of students), 26.001 (requiring a procedure for parent complaints), 11.159 (board member training requirements), 11.201 (duties of a superintendent), 4.001 (public school missions and objectives), and Chapter 37 (student discipline). The school district argued that the Commissioner did not have jurisdiction over those claims.
Ruling: The Commissioner held that it had jurisdiction over claims that the district improperly revoked the transfer agreement under Education Code § 25.036 and granted the parents’ appeal on that basis. The Commissioner observed that in cases where a child is the petitioner, the Commissioner’s only possible grant of jurisdiction is under Texas Education Code § 7.057(a)(2)(A), which concerns violations of the school laws of Texas. The “school laws of this state” are defined as the first two titles of the Texas Education Code and rules adopted under those titles. The district argued that the parents had not pled a possible violation of any of the provisions of the Texas Education Code cited in their appeal.
The Commissioner concluded that the only statutory violations cited by the parents that fell within the school laws of Texas were the alleged violations of Education Code § 26.001 and 25.036. Education Code § 26.001 requires districts to have a procedure in place for parent complaints. The claim, here, failed because the district had a grievance procedure for parents, which complied with Education Code § 26.001.
The Commissioner next held that the district violated Education Code § 25.036 when it revoked the student’s transfer. The statute provides that, “Any child, other than a high school graduate, who is younger than 21 years of age and eligible for enrollment on September 1 of any school year may transfer annually from the child’s school district of resident to another district in this state if both the receiving district and the applicant parent or guardian or person having lawful control of the child jointly approve and timely agree in writing to the transfer.” The main dispute in this case was the meaning of “transfer annually,” and whether that meant the agreement must be for a period of one year. Based on the common definitions of the words and the context of the words, the Commissioner concluded that “transfer annually” means “move for a period of a year.” Thus, the mid-year revocation of the student’s transfer agreement violated Education Code § 25.036.
Things to Remember: Take note: T.E.A.’s position is that transfers cannot be revoked mid-year.