Villalba Files Bill to Prohibit School Districts From Paying Teachers Fired For Good Cause After Appeal Upholds Termination
AUSTIN – On February 27, 2013, Texas State Representative Jason Villalba (District 114) filed House Bill 1976, prohibiting a school district from continuing to pay a teacher whose contract was terminated for good cause after the board of trustees has upheld the termination.
"The appeals process for overturning a termination for good cause is often very lengthy. Once the Board of Trustees has heard an appeal and affirmed the termination, school districts should no longer be responsible for paying the terminated teacher," said Rep. Villalba. "Termination for good cause is the result of egregious, and often criminal, behavior by a teacher. Continuing to pay a teacher who has been found by both the school's administration and the district's leadership to have failed to meet the accepted standards of conduct is a waste of taxpayer dollars and an unacceptable burden on our educational system."
This legislation would only prohibit school districts from continuing to pay the salaries of employees who are terminated for good cause, not those who are terminated for failure to achieve a standard of performance. School employees include classroom teachers, principals, librarians, nurses, and counselors. Good cause is determined by the school board and is generally defined as the failure to meet the accepted standards of conduct for the profession as generally recognized and applied in similarly situated school districts in this state.
A school employee who has their contract terminated is able to appeal the decision, first to the board of trustees, then to the Commissioner of the Texas Education Association (TEA). If neither overturns the termination, then the petitioner may choose to pursue the appeal in court. According to this legislation, if a teacher continues to appeal his or her termination and it is overturned either by the TEA or the court system, he or she would be entitled to back pay. Good cause for the terminations include sexual harassment, use of profane words and jokes in the classroom, improper sexual relationships, and physical force against students.
"Egregious behavior by teachers cannot be tolerated and should definitely not be rewarded," said Rep. Villalba. "Continuing to pay school employees who have been fired for good cause is not fair to our good teachers who repeatedly demonstrate that they have our children's best interests at heart. Prohibiting school districts from paying these offenders beyond the first appeal saves school districts money and enables them to use those funds for the benefit of our children."
A fourth-generation Texan, Rep. Villalba was the first in his family to graduate from college. He graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baylor University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Texas School of Law. He is now a partner at Haynes and Boone practicing in the areas of public and private securities law, mergers and acquisitions and general corporate law. On January 8th, 2013, Rep. Villalba took the oath of office to serve as the Texas State Representative for House District 114. He and his wife have two young daughters. His eldest daughter attends an elementary school in the Dallas Independent School District.