A parent filed a grievance against a principal, complaining that the principal made negative comments about her and demanded that she be removed as a booster club board member. The parent requested a written apology from the principal, to include a statement that he would fully support the booster club, and that the principal provide written answers to questions that the parent addressed to him regarding his actions. The parent also requested that the principal be disciplined by the district. After the district's board of trustees declined to grant these remedies, the parent filed an appeal to the commissioner of education.
The commissioner noted that he only has the authority to consider grievances that allege a violation of "the school laws of the state," such as the Education Code. In this case, although it may not be right to make unwarranted negative comments about someone, the Texas Education Code does not prohibit a principal from making negative comments about a booster club member. The commissioner did note that negative comments could constitute a violation of the Educator's Code of Ethics, but those complaints are under the authority of the State Board for Educator Certification, not the commissioner.
The commissioner also examined his authority to override the district's decision not to discipline the principal. The school board did have the authority to discipline the principal in response to the parent's grievance. However, the school laws of the state do not create standards for when a school board must discipline one of its employees. That decision is a matter of discretion. Therefore, the school board's actions did not violate one of the school laws of the state, as state law does not specify under what circumstances a school board must discipline an employee.
The commissioner concluded that he did not have the authority to overturn the district's decision and dismissed the appeal.