Posts Tagged ‘Scott Placek’

Arnold & Placek Responds to TEA Announcement on 2016 STAAR

Written by A&P News on June 10th, 2016. Posted in News

On May 22, 2016, four Texas parents, represented by Arnold & Placek, P.C., filed suit against the Texas Education Agency alleging that the 2016 STAAR assessments for Grades 3-8 did not comply with state law.  The parents sought relief from the court barring the use of these assessments for decisions related to promotion, retention, accelerated instruction and accountability.  Earlier today, the Texas Education Agency announced that it was removing all consequences to 5th and 8th grade students for 2016 STAAR results.  Further the announcement indicates that the results will not be used for school accountability ratings, although the specific nature of that decision is not disclosed.  All June STAAR retests for 5th and 8th grade were also cancelled.  Specifically, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath stated:

Given that June STAAR test results will not be required to be used for promotion decisions for SSI purposes and are not used for accountability, I am cancelling the June administration of STAAR for grades 5 and 8.  

Students in grades 5 and 8 who did not perform satisfactorily on the March 2016 or May 2016 STAAR mathematics and/or reading tests will not be retested in June. We encourage districts to use local discretion to determine on an individual basis whether accelerated instruction should be offered in the applicable subject area for students who did not pass the mathematics and/or reading assessments in March and/or May. For the 2015–2016 school year, districts are not required to convene grade placement committees based solely on grade 5 and 8 STAAR results.  Instead, you should use local discretion and all relevant and available academic information to make promotion/retention decisions for these students as you see fit, such as the recommendation of the teacher and the student’s grade in each subject.

We are evaluating the full text of the TEA’s statement and we await the agency’s response to the lawsuit which was filed seeking much of this same relief.  Despite the agency’s efforts to deflect blame for this decision onto its vendor, it is evident that the TEA realized that this year’s STAAR administration was not legally defensible.   We believe the TEA has taken sound first steps towards assuring that students do not suffer the consequences for the failures of the agency.  Arnold & Placek, P.C. expresses its continued gratitude to the plaintiffs in this litigation who stood up for their kids and demanded that no children suffer penalties as a result of assessments that do not comply with the laws of the State of Texas.

Additional Resources

  • Lead Counsel Scott Placek is available for comment.  Please schedule via e-mail: splacek@arnoldplacek.com

Arnold & Placek Sues TEA On Behalf of Parents Challenging 2016 STAAR Results

Written by A&P News on May 22nd, 2016. Posted in News

Arnold & Placek, P.C. has filed suit against Texas Education Agency commissioner Mike Morath for declaratory judgment relating to the failure of the TEA to comply with the requirements of HB 743 in the design of STAAR assessments administered to over 2,000,000 Texas students in grades 3-8.  Four parents of Texas students subject to penalties resulting from these illegal assessments are asking a Travis County district court to declare that these assessments do not comply with section 39.023 of the Education Code. They are seeking both declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent the TEA from penalizing, or requiring that districts penalize, students based on these illegally obtained results. They are seeking to prevent the results from being used for district or campus level accountability as well.

In 2015, the Texas legislature passed legislation requiring that the STAAR assessments be designed in such a way that (a) 85% of students in grades 3-5 could finish the assessments in less than two hours, and (b) 85% of students in grades 6-8 could finish the assessments in less than three hours.  Governor Abbot signed the bill into law on June 19, 2015.  Because the law was passed on an emergency basis, it took effect immediately.

However, when Texas students took the assessments over nine months later, the TEA had failed to change the design of the assessments, relying on the previous design with a four hour completion time.  Existing time studies demonstrate that the TEA knew these assessments would not be in compliance with HB 743.  Despite this, the TEA is insisting that school districts use the results to promote and retain students, assign them to summer school or other extra instruction, and that the districts themselves be rated for accountability purposes using the results from these illegally designed assessments.

Additional information regarding this suit is available below.

Press Conference:

Monday, May 23, 2016
10:30 a.m.
Outside the TEA Offices at 1701 N. Congress Ave., Austin, Texas

The press conference will be held on the sidewalk on the northeast corner of the intersection of 17th and Congress (the southwest corner of the block containing the TEA offices)

Availability:  Scott Placek, lead counsel for Plaintiffs; Ben Becker, Chairman, Committee to Stop STAAR

Media inquiries should be referred to Ben Becker at 254-744-5174.

Media Resources

The Committee to Stop STAAR has established a website at www.stopstaar.org to track the progress of the litigation.  The committee website is not affiliated with Arnold & Placek, P.C.

Committee to Stop STAAR Press Release (5/22/16)

Plaintiff’s Original Petition in Lewis et al. v. Morath

Prepared Remarks of Scott Placek on Filing of HB 743 Litigation

Arnold & Placek, P.C. Secures Another Dismissal on Mandamus

Written by A&P News on November 12th, 2010. Posted in Appeals, Judicial Review

11th Court of Appeals, Eastland, Texas

In an opinion handed down earlier today, the Eastland Court of Appeals granted the Petition for Writ of Mandamus filed by Arnold & Placek on behalf of its client, Texas Mutual Insurance Company. The case, In re Texas Mutual Ins. Co., et al, arose out of a suit for judicial review in the 188th District Court for Howard County. The employer intervened into an existing judicial review suit, attempting to seek review of DWC determination of non-compensability for other employees in the same accident. After Judge Robert Moore denied Texas Mutual’s Plea to the Jurisdiction, mandamus proceedings were instituted. The 11th Court of Appeals held that an employer has no standing to challenge the denial of compensability by their carrier, or to appeal a determination of non-compensability at the DWC. As a result, the court dismissed the petition in intervention of Amerimex Drilling I, Ltd., and ordered the trial court to dismiss the intervention by December 1, 2010.

This case is significant because it is the first case to directly examine the full scope of an employer’s standing to contest DWC determinations. The Eastland court looked first and foremost to the plain language of the statute to determine that no general standing exists for employers. In its opinion, the Eastland court considered, and rejected, each of the major arguments typically asserted by employers who attempt to institute judicial reviews. They further distinguished the Tyler Asphalt case, that many employers improperly rely upon for the proposition that payment of workers’ compensation premium establishes general standing for the employer to litigate claims before the DWC and in district court. The full opinion is available here.

Arnold & Placek, P.C. Obtains Dismissal of Bad Faith Claim on Mandamus Petition

Written by A&P News on July 26th, 2010. Posted in Appeals, Bad Faith

14th Court of Appeals, Houston, Texas

Arnold & Placek, P.C. today successfully obtained the full dismissal of all bad faith claims asserted against Texas Mutual Insurance Company by Adrian Harding. Mr. Harding suffered an on the job injury. After a brief dispute of his extent of injury, Harding sued Texas Mutual for delay of his surgery – despite the fact that he had never requested surgery while his dispute was pending.

After the trial court denied Texas Mutual’s Plea to the Jurisdiction, Arnold & Placek filed a petition for writ of mandamus arguing that the Brazoria County District Court had abused its discretion in denying the plea. After hearing oral argument, the 14th Court of Appeals agreed, and in a thorough and well reasoned opinion, explained that a worker cannot avoid seeking their DWC remedies during a pending dispute, and later claim the dispute caused them damages. Adrian Harding was represented in the trial court by Michael Doyle and Patrick Dennis with the firm of Doyle, Raizner LLP. Scott Placek represented Texas Mutual and argued the case before the 14th Court of Appeals.