CONTACT AND WARN SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO NOT ADOPT
THE TASB ALTERNATIVE POLICY

PROBLEM WITH TASB: A problem has just arisen concerning the Texas Association of School Boards ("TASB").  TASB is a non-governmental organization that school districts can voluntarily join. Most Texas schools are members.  As part of the membership benefits, schools receive suggested policies that TASB attorneys draft.  Since it is less expensive to simply adopt these ready-made TASB policies than paying their own attorneys to draft policies, most school boards take the path of least resistance and adopt the TASB policies without much thought.  Because TASB has been around for so long, TASB has become almost territorial over setting the policies for Texas schools, and I have observed TASB becoming, in my opinion, increasingly liberal and prone to giving bad advice to schools, particularly in the area of faith-based legal issues. 

THIS IS WHAT TASB DID: On July 27th, TASB emailed Texas school districts a package of documents entitled “Student Expression—Urgent Starting Points” addressing the new Act.  Bewilderingly, in addition to the Act’s recommended Model Policy, TASB submitted to schools an “alternative policy of its own (to compete with the Legislature’s recommended Model Policy) which significantly deviates from the Act’s Model Policy and significantly deviates from the Act itself.  As part of its alternative policy, TASB has added its own definitions to key phrases in the Act, having no support in the Act or in law (and, in fact, contradictory to the words, meaning, and legislative history of the Act).  The definitions manufactured by TASB have the effect of severely restricting the application of the Act (with the potential of making the Act meaningless) and thwarting the clear language, spirit, and legislative intent.  It is the author’s opinion that adoption of the TASB alternative policy will put a school in violation of the Act and open that school to immediate legal claims.  Schools must be warned not to adopt the TASB alternative policy.  Schools should be encouraged to simply adopt the Model Policy which is part of the Act itself and will assure a school’s compliance with the Act. 

The document "TO TEXAS SCHOOL BOARDS FOR AUGUST MEETING:  THE RELIGIOUS VIEWPOINTS ANTIDISCRIMINATION ACT AND STATE’S MODEL POLICY " (click here for a copy) explains the legal problems with the TASB alternative policy.  This document needs to get into the hands of all 1,040 school districts.  Time is short because within the few weeks, all school boards will be voting on what policy to adopt.

ACTION:

1.     Call or email every school district and school board member you know.  For a list of telephone numbers and emails of all school districts Click Here, and cut and paste emails into your own email going to schools.  Schools’ phone numbers and addresses are also on the same list.

2.      Call the TASB offices at 800-580-5345 and speak to Jim Crow, the Executive Director of TASB, or someone else in his absence.  And ask him to please have TASB withdraw its packet and alternative policy sent out to school districts.  Ask TASB to encourage schools to adopt and follow the Model Policy that was passed by the Texas Legislature so that schools can rest assured of being in compliance with the Act.

3.      Send an email (see list below which can be copied at one time and dropped into a single email from you) to all TASB Board members, and Jim Crow, executive director of TASB, and Joy Baskin, director of TASB legal services, asking them to have TASB withdraw its packet and alternative policy sent out to school districts, and have TASB encourage schools to adopt and follow the Model Policy that was passed by the Texas Legislature so that schools can rest assured of being in compliance with the Act. You can begin your email with, “Dear Mr. Crow, Ms. Baskin, and TASB Board members.” 

Jim.Crow@tasb.org; jim@jimash.net; rthomas@angleton.isd.tenet.edu; sbwinkle@aliefisd.net; santexsyl@aol.com; katiereed@swbell.net; fayebeaulieu@tx.rr.com; bhbegert@hughes.net; casasantillan@aol.com; fred0279@aol.com; karenkellis@sbcglobal.net; david.flores.tx@gmail.com; t_flores@ml.com; roberto@garciar.com; GarciaV@uhd.edu; llgriffi@garlandisd.net; mguajardo8@houston.rr.com; khcurator@houston.rr.com; kevin.hoffman@fpm.hctx.net; howard8@swbell.net; ickert@hotmail.com; garyinmon@yahoo.com; mbking66@verizon.net; cknox@fortbend.k12.tx.us; MLEAL93@rgv.rr.com; judyneedham@msn.com; mickey@skytex.net; rprice@dallasisd.org; clpurdy@fivearea.com; msranch@ctesc.net; aself@memorialhealth.org; reShep@cableone.net; wsonnier@esc5.net; charlesramseystafford@yahoo.com; Pam.Stehle@bakerhughes.com; momvet@earthlink.net; mikewatkins@tlabwireless.net; wheatde@aol.com; ewhite5057@aol.com; woodcomp@houston.rr.com; joy.baskin@tasb.org

[Coghlan is a Houston constitutional trial attorney and author of Those Dangerous Student Prayers.  He has represented 159 students and parents as amici curiae before the U.S. Supreme Court on faith-based issues, obtained the first federal injunction preventing censorship of a student’s voluntary public prayer in Ward v. Santa Fe I.S.D., and is the legal author of the Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act.  Website www.kellycoghlan.com.  The article’s contents are the personal opinions of the author and are not legal advice, warranties or representations]    ŠKC94-07