Frisco ISD officials joined several other Texas school districts in a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency.

What’s happening?

The district’s board of trustees voted 5-0 to join a lawsuit against the TEA over its failure to adequately notify school districts on the changes made to the way accountability ratings are calculated. Trustees Marvin Lowe and Stephanie Elad were absent during the board’s meeting.

The lawsuit FISD is joining is based on Texas Education Code 39.0542, district general counsel Daniel Stockton said. Per the statute, the commissioner is required to provide school districts with a “simple, accessible” document explaining the accountability performance measures, methods and procedures that will be applied to their campus performance ratings.

The district did receive this document, but Stockton said it contained the previous standards and not the new system that would be used.

“This is not about increasing standards,” he said. “Frisco ISD and other schools across the state support increasing standards. This is about the advanced notice that schools and communities should have when [the TEA] is going to change how [it’s] measuring schools.”

What parents need to know

New accountability ratings for Texas schools were scheduled to be released Sept. 28, based on adjusted criteria including but not limited to a new threshold for college, career and military readiness scores, raising it from 60% to 88% to earn an A rating.

The TEA announced Sept. 12 the scores will be temporarily delayed for approximately one month to allow for “further re-examination of the baseline data” used in the calculations, according to a news release.

A temporary restraining order hearing is scheduled for Sept. 25, one day before ratings were set to be issued and three days before the ratings would have been published, as of Sept. 11.

The districts signing onto the lawsuit include but are not limited to:
  • Crowley ISD
  • Edinburg CISD
  • Kingsville ISD
  • Klein ISD
  • Pflugerville ISD
“I believe we will be the 18th school district to join through the initial lawsuit, and I’m not sure of any in North Texas who have voted to join as of today,” Stockton said.

The law firm representing the school districts has placed a $10,000 cap on the school districts for legal fees, Stockton said, although it is estimated costs will be “significantly less” at around $5,000. This cost also depends on how many school districts join the suit as legal fees will be split among the districts, he said.

Why it matters

The lawsuit is seeking one of two options for the accountability scores:
  • For the commissioner to issue ratings for the 2022-23 school year and the 2023-24 school year using the existing system
  • For the commissioner to issue no ratings for the two school years
FISD Trustee René Archambault said the changes are a retroactive measure the TEA is trying to impose on districts. The last three years have been “unprecedented” for education, she said, and district officials in Texas have worked to meet the requirements.

“It’s one score,” she said. “We’re so much bigger than an A or F rating, but I do think it’s important that we fight not only for the kids in Frisco ISD, but our 5.4 million kids [across the state] ... and their teachers as we continue to go through these deep changes to both the STAAR and accountability system.”