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Baxter v. Sherman ISD, Dkt. No. 092-R10-0612 (Comm’r Educ. April 30, 2015).

Facts: A secondary music teacher for the Sherman Independent School District challenged the district’s lesson plan requirements, claiming they violated the Paperwork Reduction Act found at Texas Education Code § 11.164. The district required daily lesson plans that addressed (1) objectives, (2) methods, (3) assessment, (4) materials and equipment, and (5) evaluation. The teacher argued that the required lesson plan called for her to do more than outline, “in a brief and general manner, the information to be presented each period.”

Holding: The Commissioner held that the required lesson plans complied with the Paperwork Reduction Act, except to the extent that it required teachers to reflect on how the lesson plan actually worked. Education Code §11.164, in part, calls districts to “limit redundant requests for information and the number and length of written reports that a classroom teacher is required to prepare.” Relevant to lesson plans, a classroom teacher may be required to prepare a report on instructional material and “a unit or weekly lesson plan that outlines, in a brief and general manner, the information to be presented during each period at the secondary level or in each subject or topic at the elementary level.”

The Commissioner observed that lesson plans not only help teachers prepare for instruction, but also help administrators evaluate teachers and monitor instruction. Lesson plans also assist substitute teachers to provide planned curriculum. The required lesson plans in this case were not redundant requests for information and required only information to be provided in a “brief and general manner.” The Commissioner held, however, that the “evaluation” requirement did not comply with Education Code §11.164 because it required the teacher to plan how she would evaluate the lesson plan after it had been presented. While such an evaluation might be useful, it did not fall within the statutory restrictions on lesson plans that it be “information to be presented.” This additional requirement, therefore, violated the Paperwork Reduction Act, according to the Commissioner.



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