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PUBLIC SERVANTS

All School employees are "public servants" and therefore subject to Title VIII of the Penal Code, regarding offenses against public administration, including bribery and corrupt influence (Chapter 36), perjury and other falsification (Chapter 37), obstructing governmental operation (Chapter 38), and abuse of office (Chapter 39).  Penal Code 1.07(41), Title VIII  [See DBD and BBFA]

Educator ethics

Educators shall comply with standard practices and ethical conduct toward students, professional colleagues, school officials, parents, and members of the community and shall safeguard academic freedom.

The State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) shall provide for the adoption, amendment, and enforcement of an educator’s code of ethics [see DH (EXHIBIT)].  SBEC is solely responsible for enforcing the ethics code for purposes related to certification disciplinary proceedings.

Education Code 21.041(b)(8); 19 TAC 247.1(b), (c)

electronic communication policy

“Electronic communication” means any communication facilitated by the use of any electronic device, including a telephone, cellular telephone, computer, computer network, personal data assistant, or pager.  The term includes e-mails, text messages, instant messages, and any communications made through a website, including a social media website or a social networking website.

TSBVI shall adopt a written policy concerning electronic communications between a school employee and a student enrolled in the School.

The policy adopted under this section must:

  1. Include provisions designed to prevent improper electronic communications between a school employee and a student;
  2. Allow a school employee to elect to not disclose to students the employee’s personal telephone number or e-mail address; and
  3. Include provisions instructing a school employee about the proper method for notifying appropriate local administrators about an incident in which a student engages in improper communications with the school employee.

Education Code 38.027

DRUG ABUSE PREVENTION

In compliance with Workers' Compensation Commission rules, the School shall provide a written copy of the local drug abuse policy to each employee:

  1. On or before the first day of employment; or
  2. Within 30 days after the date the local policy is adopted by the Board.

28 TAC 169.1(b)

TOBACCO USE and e-cigarettes PROHIBITED

The Board shall prohibit smoking, using tobacco products, or using e-cigarettes at a School-related or School-sanctioned activity on or off School property.

Enforcement

The Board shall ensure that School personnel enforce the policies at a School-related or School-sanctioned event on or off School property.

Education Code 38.006(1)(3) [See also FNCD and GKA]

IMMUNITY FROM INDIVIDUAL LIABILITY

The statutory immunity detailed below is in addition to and does not preempt the common law doctrine of official and governmental immunity.

Education Code 22.051(b)

“Professional Employees”

A professional school employee district is not personally liable for any act that is incident to or within the scope of the duties of the employee's position of employment and that involves the exercise of judgment or discretion, except in circumstances where, in disciplining a student, the employee uses excessive force or his or her negligence results in bodily injury to the student.

"Professional school employee " includes a superintendent; principal; teacher, including a substitute teacher or a teacher employed by a company that contracts with TSBVI to provide the teacher's services to the School; a supervisor; social worker; counselor; nurse; teacher's aide; a student in an education preparation program participating in a field experience or internship; a DPS-certified school bus driver, and any other person whose employment requires certification and the exercise of discretion.

TSBVI Employees

In addition to any other federal and state statutes limiting the liability of employees at the School, Sections 22.0511, 22.0512, 22.052, and 22.053, respectively, apply to professional employees and volunteers of the school.

Education Code 30.024(c)

Motor Vehicle Exception

Education Code Section 22.0511 does not apply to the operation, use, or maintenance of any motor vehicle.

Education Code 22.0511(a)-(b), 22.051; Hopkins v. Spring ISD, 756 S.W.2d 617 (Tex. 1987); Barr v. Bernhard, 562 S.W.2d 844 (Tex. 1978)

“Individuals”

In addition to the immunity described above [at Professional Employees], and under other provisions of state law, an individual is entitled to any immunity and any other protections afforded under the Paul D. Coverdell Teacher Protection Act of 2001 (20 U.S.C. Section 6731 et seq.), as amended. [See TEACHERS, below] Nothing in Education Code 22.0511(c) shall be construed to limit or abridge any immunity or protection afforded an individual under state law.  Education Code 22.0511(c)

“Teachers” (The Paul T. Coverdell Teacher Protection Act of 2001)

Except as provided in 20 U.S.C. Section 6736(b), no "teacher" in a school shall be liable for harm caused by an act or omission of the teacher on behalf of the school if:

  1. The teacher was acting within the scope of the teacher's employment or responsibilities to a school or governmental entity;
  2. The actions of the teacher were carried out in conformity with federal, state, and local laws (including rules and regulations) in furtherance of efforts to control, discipline, expel, or suspend a student or maintain order or control in the classroom or school;
  3. If appropriate or required, the teacher was properly licensed, certified, or authorized by the appropriate authorities for the activities or practice involved in the state in which the harm occurred, where the activities were or practice was undertaken within the scope of the teacher's responsibilities;
  4. The harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by the teacher; and
  5. The harm was not caused by the teacher operating a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or other vehicle for which the state requires the operator or the owner of the vehicle, craft, or vessel to:
    1. Possess an operator's license; or
    2. Maintain insurance.

"Teacher" means:

  1. A teacher, instructor, principal, or administrator;
  2. Another educational professional who works in a school;
  3. An individual member of a school board (as distinct from the board); or
  4. A professional or nonprofessional employee who works in a school, and:
    1. In the employee's job, maintains discipline or ensures safety; or
    2. In an emergency, is called on to maintain discipline or ensure safety.

20 U.S.C. Section 6733, 6736(a)

DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE PROGRAM

A board shall prohibit the use of alcoholic beverages at school related or school-sanctioned activities on or off school property.  Education Code 38.007(a)

Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act

The School receives federal grants and must agree to provide a drug-free workplace by:

  1. Publishing a statement notifying employees that the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance is prohibited in the School’s workplace and specifying the actions that will be taken against employees for violations of the prohibition;
  2. Establishing a drug-free awareness program to inform employees about:
    1. The dangers of drug abuse in the workplace;
    2. TSBVI’s policy of maintaining a drug-free workplace;
    3. Available drug counseling, rehabilitation, and employee assistance programs; and
    4. The penalties that may be imposed on employees for drug abuse violations;
  3. Making it a requirement that each employee to be engaged in the performance of the grant be given a copy of the required statement;
  4. Notifying the employee in the required statement that as a condition of employment in the grant the employee will:
    1. Abide by the terms of the statement; and
    2. Notify the School of any criminal drug statute conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace no later than 5 days after the conviction;
  5. Notifying the granting agency within 10 days after receiving notice from an employee or otherwise receiving actual notice of a conviction;
  6. Imposing a sanction on, or requiring the satisfactory participation in a drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program by, any employee who is convicted, as required by 41 U.S.C. section 81.04; and
  7. Making good faith effort to continue to maintain a drug-free workplace through implementation of the above requirements.

41 U.S.C. 8103(a)(1)

REPORT OF DRUG OFFENSES

A teacher, administrator, or other School employee is not liable in civil damages for reporting to a school administrator or governmental authority, in the exercise of professional judgment within the scope of the teacher's, administrator's, or employee's duties, a student whom the teacher suspects of using, passing, or selling, on school property any of the following substances:

  1. Marijuana or a controlled substance, as defined by the Texas Controlled Substances Act.
  2. A dangerous drug, as defined by the Texas Dangerous Drug Act.
  3. An abusable glue or aerosol paint, as defined by Health and Safety Code Chapter 485, or a volatile chemical, if the substance is used or sold for the purpose of inhaling its fumes or vapors.
  4. An alcoholic beverage, as defined by Section 1.04, Alcoholic Beverage Code.

Education Code 37.016

REPORT TO LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT

The Principal or person designated by the Principal is not liable in civil damages for making a good faith report, as required by law [see GRA] to the Austin Police Department when the Principal has reasonable grounds to believe that any of the following activities occur in School, on School property, or at a School-sponsored or School-related activity on or off school property, without regard to whether the activity is investigated by School security officers:

  1. Conduct that may constitute an offense listed in Section 508.149, Government Code; deadly conduct, as described by Penal Code 22.05; or a terroristic threat, as described by Penal Code 22.07.
  2. The use, sale, or possession of a controlled substance, drug paraphernalia, or marijuana, as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code.
  3. The possession of any of the weapons or devices listed in Penal Code 46.01(1)-(14) or (16) [see FNCG].
  4. Conduct that may constitute a criminal offense under Penal Code 71.02, Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity.
  5. Conduct that may constitute a criminal offense for which a student may be expelled under Section 37.007(a), (d), or (e).

Education Code 37.015

REPORT TO SBEC OF EDUCATOR MISCONDUCT

The Superintendent shall promptly notify in writing the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) by filing a report with SBEC not later than the seventh day after the Superintendent first learns about a criminal record or an alleged incident of misconduct, as described at DF, involving a certified educator.

Education Code 21.006; 19 TAC 249.14

DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS

Except as provided at Education Code 38.011(b), a School employee may not:

  1. Knowingly sell, market, or distribute a dietary supplement that contains performance-enhancing compounds to a primary or secondary education student with whom the employee has contact as part of the employee's duties; or
  2. Knowingly endorse or suggest the ingestion, intranasal application, or inhalation of a dietary supplement that contains performance-enhancing compounds by a primary or secondary student with whom the employee has contact as part of the employee's duties.

An employee who violates items 1 or 2, above, commits a Class C misdemeanor offense.

Education Code 38.011

Low-THC Cannabis

The School may not enact, adopt, or enforce a rule, ordinance, order, resolution, or other regulation that prohibits the possession of low-THC cannabis, as authorized by Health and Safety Code Chapter 487.  Health and Safety Code 487.201

Adopted:         3/7/80

Amended:       11/13/81, 9/10/82, 9/9/83, 7/17/87, 11/12/87, 1/26/90, 5/30/91, 1/29/93, 5/26/94, 9/29/95, 1/26/96, 9/24/99, 1/31/03, 3/26/04, 1/28/05, 5/25/05, 1/31/14, 5/31/19

Reviewed: