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Salazar v. Sinton ISD, 049-R1-07-2015 (Comm’r Educ. Sept. 10, 2015).

Facts: The counselor was assigned the duties of testing coordinator for the 2014-2015 school year. When the District nonrenewed her contract, she appealed to the Commissioner of Education. She claimed that she was terminated in retaliation for seeking special education services for her child. According to the counselor, she had a good performance review in June 2014, where she was rated as “Exceeds Expectations” or “Proficient” in all categories. She also maintained that all of the alleged incidents that the District cited as evidence to support nonrenewal occurred after she failed to turn over an expert report relevant to her appeal of the District’s decision to deny her child special education services. In response, the District offered evidence of reprimands that she received related to testing irregularities that occurred while she was testing coordinator.

Holding: The Commissioner denied the woman’s appeal. The local record showed that the principal gave the counselor a written reprimand for failing to train two teachers adequately in TELPAS security procedures as part of her duties as testing coordinator, which led to testing irregularities when the teachers she had trained failed to comply with testing security protocol. A written reprimand she received also noted an incident when she had improperly allowed a student to take a STAAR reading test twice, leading to the student’s score being invalidated. According to the Commissioner, testing irregularities are significant matters that can result in serious consequences for both school districts and individual educators.  The counselor argued that she was not given an opportunity to remediate following these incidents, but there is no statutory requirement that a school district must give a teacher an opportunity for remediation before nonrenewing a contract. The written reprimand provided substantial evidence to support two of the pre-established reasons for nonrenewal that the District cited in its Notice of Nonrenewal: deficiencies pointed out in observation reports, appraisals or evaluations, supplemental memoranda, or other communications; and failure to fulfill duties or responsibilities. The woman’s appeal of her nonrenewal was therefore denied.

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