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Arnold & Placek Wins Appeal on TEA’s Invalid Administration of 2015-16 STAAR Assessments

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin, Texas today ruled for Arnold & Placek, P.C. and affirmed the denial of the TEA’s plea to the jurisdiction concerning a suit seeking to invalidate the results from the statewide administration of the 2015-16 STAAR assessments.

Arnold & Placek represents four parents from across the state in Lewis, et al. v. Morath, which seeks a declaration that the 2015-16 STAAR assessments for grades 3-8 did not comply with mandatory provisions of the Texas Education Code limiting the time length of the assessments. The parents also seek injunctive relief enjoining the TEA from using the invalid assessments to impose a wide range of consequences to parents across the state, including campus closures and student retention. The TEA sought to dismiss the parents’ suit for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear a challenge to the TEA’s administration of the tests and that the parents lacked standing to bring their claims. The trial court disagreed, denying the TEA’s plea to the jurisdiction. On appeal, the Third Court affirmed the denial, holding that the parents’ lawsuit properly alleges that the TEA acted outside of its legal authority and that the parents have standing to enjoin the TEA from imposing 2015-16 STAAR-related consequences on their children. The Third Court’s ruling allows the parents to proceed on their suit against the TEA, now pending in Travis County District Court.

Arnold & Placek P.C. partner R. Scott Placek, of counsel Kyle M. Jones, and associate Jonathan Chaltain represent the parents in the trial court; Mr. Placek, Mr. Chaltain, partner Matthew Foerster, and senior counsel Scott K. Arnold represented the parents and submitted the briefing on appeal.

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