October 18, 2022

Parents Sue Texas Education Agency for Limiting Families’ Options to Re-enroll in Full-Time Virtual Public School

What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?
What’s a Rich Text element?

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Austin, TX – Today, two families sued the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Education Commissioner Mike Morath, challenging the TEA’s decision prohibiting them from re-enrolling their children in a full-time virtual public school, violating the intent of the virtual school education law passed in 2021. Because of the TEA’s rule, more than 1,300 families across Texas who wish to participate in a full-time virtual program are unable to do so.

Read the complaint here

IIn 2020, Roscoe Independent School District created the Lone Star Online Academy (LSOA) to serve students across Texas, with enrollment criteria in accordance with existing virtual school law and full funding for all students enrolling in the program.

In 2021, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 15 to codify the full funding of multiple different virtual learning options for students across Texas. The bill reauthorized LSOA and other “grandfathered” programs to continue operating using the same enrollment criteria they used in 2020, according to Texas Education Code 48.0071. The law separately authorized school districts to create new local remote learning programs, but subjected them to student enrollment screens that prohibit them from enrolling students who failed a STAAR test, received a grade below a C in a class, or did not meet attendance requirements.

Despite this clear distinction in the law, TEA released its 2021-22 Student Attendance Accounting Handbook with rule, which wrongly applies the student enrollment criteria meant for new local remote learning programs to grandfathered programs, including LSOA.

This erroneous rule prohibits LSOA from re-enrolling the plaintiffs for the 2022-23 school year.

“The parents filed this lawsuit so that their children can continue their education at the school that best fits their needs,” said Lehotsky Keller partner Andrew Davis, who represents the parents. “They should not be denied a choice in their children’s education because the TEA misinterprets the law.”

Although the school year has already begun, there are additional opportunities for the plaintiffs to re-enroll in LOSA is Rule is declared invalid. If TEA continues to wrongly interpret the law, the plaintiffs will be denied their right to choose the educational setting that is best for them. The harm is irreparable, as the plaintiffs are currently suffering from being thrown into educational programs and environments that are not nearly as conducive to their educational needs.

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