When the Texas school board and its members decided to cancel a board meeting because of a health crisis in a Texas elementary school, they were doing exactly what they were supposed to do — and it’s not working.
That is, the board’s decision was not supported by the Texas Constitution.
In fact, the constitution expressly requires the Texas Legislature to approve all school board actions.
So when the board decided to hold a meeting after the Texas Department of Education’s crisis management team sent them a letter stating the board had reached a decision to cancel, the law said nothing about the state Constitution’s requirement for school boards to be able to have a public meeting.
Instead, the school board is doing what it was supposed to be doing, but the law doesn’t give the board any power to act, according to the Associated Press.
That’s what the school boards lawyers in the case want.
The AP story on the court ruling notes that the AP’s attorneys argued that the Texas Education Agency’s letter was not an official statement of the school district’s decision and that the board could still make the decision to hold the meeting.
But the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the school districts authority to act under the state constitution does not extend to the decision.
The district is now in a legal standoff with the state, and the attorney general is asking the court to clarify the court’s decision, which will be heard by a three-judge panel on Monday.
Texas is the only state in the nation where a public school board can decide to cancel meetings.
The Associated Press reported that the lawsuit was filed by lawyers for the district and the state of Texas, as well as a group of parents who are demanding the state remove the state from the case.
“I think that the district is in a bind,” said lawyer Michael Crain, who represents the parents.
“The legislature is saying that the state’s decision is not binding, but it’s the board itself that is in the bind, and that is an extraordinarily difficult situation.”
In a letter to the judge on Monday, attorney Tom Rader, who is representing the state in that case, wrote that the court did not rule on the merits of the case but did make clear that the “constitution gives the state power to govern school boards.”
“The court did hold that the Legislature can remove the Texas Board of Education from the proceedings, if it chooses,” he wrote.
“It is important that the legislature understand this is not a power that can be exercised without a judicial order, and does not give the state authority to change or amend school board policies without legislative consent.”