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TEA News Releases Online June 23, 2016
Commissioner Morath receives first District of Innovation notifications

AUSTIN – Commissioner of Education Mike Morath today announced that eight public school districts have adopted a local innovation plan and formally notified him of that vote. Notification to the Commissioner marks completion of the new District of Innovation designation process.

Passed by the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015 and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, House Bill 1842 created the District of Innovation designation, which provides a district exemption from certain sections of the Texas Education Code. A district that completes the process possesses the District of Innovation designation for five years.

To date, the eight districts that have completed the District of Innovation process and notified the Commissioner are Canton ISD, El Paso ISD, Mabank ISD, Palmer ISD, Point Isabel ISD, San Antonio ISD, Spring Branch ISD and Victoria ISD.

“The District of Innovation designation provides our districts with added flexibility that’s specific to each community,” said Commissioner Morath. “This initial wave of notifications is just the beginning of what will be many districts that elect to go through this innovative process.”

School districts are eligible for District of Innovation designation if the district has an academic accountability rating of “Met Standard.” In addition, certain procedures for adoption must be followed, including creation of an innovation plan, gathering of community input (including public hearings), and a final two-thirds majority approval vote by the locally elected board of trustees. Notification to the Commissioner marks the final step in the process.

For those that complete the District of Innovation process, allowable exemptions include (but are not limited to) length of the school day; class size; educator certification; teacher contracts; and designation of a campus behavior coordinator.

Although the District of Innovation designation provides certain exemptions and flexibilities, a district cannot exempt itself from specific sections of the Texas Education Code, including requirements related to (but not limited to): district governance; curriculum; the state assessment system; the state accountability system; school finance and federal requirements in state law outside of the Education Code.

The Texas Education Agency has established a page on its website to provide a list of those districts that have completed the District of Innovation process. The page will be updated as additional districts formally notify the Commissioner. It will also provide a direct link to each district’s locally adopted innovation plan.

To learn more about District of Innovation process (and see the current list of school districts that have completed that process), visit the TEA website at http://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Schools/General_Information/Innovation/Districts_of_Innovation/.