DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
BURNET — Llano Independent School District teachers are free to use CSCOPE lesson plans following a court ruling Aug. 16 after several residents filed a lawsuit trying to stop the practice.
But the use might be short-lived if opponents to the CSCOPE lesson plans have their way.
“I think we’re going to see if we can appeal this,” said Trevor Dupuy, one of the residents in LISD who filed the lawsuit against the district.
State District Judge Allan Garrett ruled the 33rd Judicial District Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the matter. The move came after LISD attorney Rick Morris filed a motion earlier the same day claiming that fact.
The hearing was initially scheduled for the court to consider a temporary injunction against the use of the CSCOPE materials in Llano classrooms. Llano attorney Tim Cowart filed a lawsuit on behalf of his clients Dupuy, William R. Hussey, Leticia McCasland, Thomas E. Allan and Julie J. Schmidt seeking a court ruling prohibiting the use of any CSCOPE materials by LISD administrators and staff.
Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1406, which made CSCOPE subject to the State Board of Education. Texas Education Service Centers, which operate under the Texas Education Agency, developed curriculum and corresponding lesson plans that were free and available online.
But many people were concerned about CSCOPE’s ideology, which prompted the passage of SB 1406, banning the use of the materials after Aug. 31. However, the existing lesson plans remained available, and many districts, including LISD, allowed teachers to utilize them.
This practice, however, wasn’t what the crafters of the law wanted, Cowart argued.
One of the bill’s authors, State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, sat in the front row of the courtroom ready to testify during the injunction portion of the hearing, which never came about.
Morris argued the 33rd Judicial District Court didn’t have jurisdiction over the lawsuit for several reasons. He pointed out the Texas Education Code outlines a procedure that school district residents can follow if they disagree with the local school board decisions and policies, something he alleged the plaintiffs didn’t do.
Morris told the court the plaintiffs didn’t get their way with recent school board elections or school board policies and were upset, so they decided to ask the court to take up their cause. He also pointed out state law provides some protection for school districts from lawsuits.
Cowart countered that the use of CSCOPE lesson plans violated the new state law’s intent and would harm students and, as such, should not be used. He added there isn’t enough time for his clients to follow the TEA procedures, and the court was their only real recourse.
“This is about when a state law is passed with specific intent,” Cowart told the court. “What remedy is there if there is immediate harm that’s going to happen? The Legislature’s intent about CSCOPE is clear: It’s not supposed to be used or utilized after Aug. 31 of this year.”
After almost two-and-a-half hours of arguments, Garrett ruled in favor of the school district’s motion in regard to jurisdiction.
The ruling opened the door for LISD officials to allow teachers to use CSCOPE lesson plans. LISD Superintendent Casey Callahan, who sat next to Morris during the proceedings, said the district doesn’t require teachers to use CSCOPE lesson plans.
“They are just a tool,” he said. “They are not mandated.”