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Teachers association sues education commissioner over charter school contract rules

The TSTA claims the rules deprive teachers of employment rights and allow corporate charter chains to operate in Texas without certified teachers.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Wednesday, July 22, the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) announced it is suing the state’s education commissioner over charter school rules that it claims illegally remove teacher certification and contractual requirements.

The TSTA said Education Commissioner Mike Morath had adopted charter school partnership rules that deprive teachers of employment rights and allow corporate charter chains to operate in Texas without certified teachers.

The lawsuit filed in state district court in Travis County seeks to invalidate the rules and any district charter contracts approved under the rules’ provisions.

“In his eagerness to promote corporate charter expansion in Texas at the expense of neighborhood public schools, Commissioner Morath keeps ignoring one important thing – he is supposed to be a regulator of charters, not their champion,” said TSTA President Ovidia Molina. “Teacher certification and contractual rights are important safeguards ensuring that students receive quality instruction in our classrooms. That is why the Legislature enacted those safeguards into law, which the commissioner has illegally disregarded.”

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According to TSTA, the rules give charter partners taking over a district campus the final authority to hire, supervise, assign and evaluate all of that campus’s employees.

“The regulations … threaten to interfere with and impair the legal rights and benefits of [TSTA] members regarding their certification and contractual rights and benefits,” the suit argues.

The rules are “an unreasonable, unwarranted and excessive exercise of the power vested in [the commissioner] and permits the hiring of non-certified teachers to teach and limits the contractual rights and benefits of teachers,” it says.

The TEA released the following statement:

“The Texas Education Agency has adopted valid rules that are legally authorized and designed to expand the choices available to students across the state. TEA cannot comment further on pending litigation.”

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