Association of Texas Professional Educators
Association of Texas Professional Educators

2023 Legislation Affecting Educators’ Employment Rights

2023 Legislation Affecting Educators’ Employment Rights

Your Ally | By Sylvia Martinez-Haley, ATPE Senior Staff Attorney

During its regular session, the 88th Legislature added new rights and protections for educators, lessened workloads in some areas, and provided additional safety measures. It also changed certain educator duties and responsibilities. The following recaps new legislation affecting educators’ employment rights.

School Safety

House Bill (HB) 3, the new Texas Education Code (TEC) 22.904, requires employees who interact regularly with students to complete mental health training on students experiencing mental health or substance use issues who may pose a school safety threat. Employees may earn continuing professional education (CPE) hours, and those who have taken similar training are exempt.

Mandatory Reporting

Educators have 48 hours to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the Department of Family and Protective Services or law enforcement. HB 63 amends Texas Family Code 261.104 and 261.201 prohibiting an individual from making an anonymous child abuse or neglect report to the department.

HB 4545 Modifications

HB 1416 amends TEC 28.0211, the statute covering HB 4545 accelerated instruction tutoring. Requirements for student achievement on state assessments are halved from 30 to 15 hours unless a student performs “significantly below satisfactory.” Teachers may work with four students instead of three.

Open Education Resource/Curriculum

HB 1605 establishes an online open education resource for SBOE-approved instructional materials. The goal of the bill is to improve curriculum materials and lessen teacher workloads. Districts are not required to use these materials, but they are eligible for additional funding if they do.

Respiratory Distress Medication

Under Senate Bill (SB) 294, school districts and open-enrollment charter schools may adopt policies regarding the maintenance and administration of respiratory distress medication. Authorized and trained employees and volunteers may administer this medication without parental written notice, but parental notifications are required afterward.

Opioid Antagonists (e.g., Narcan)

Per SB 629, school districts must adopt maintenance, administration, and disposal of opioid antagonist policies at campuses serving grades 6-12 and may do so for lower-grade campuses. Employees and volunteers must be authorized and trained before administering antagonists. Immunity protections apply to a person who in good faith takes, or fails to take, any action related to the maintenance, administration, and disposal of opioid antagonists.

Counselor Certification

SB 798 removes classroom teaching experience from the qualifications for school counselor certification.

Panic Alert Technology

SB 838 requires school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to provide each classroom with silent panic alert technology beginning with the 2025-26 school year.

Confidentiality When Reporting Campus Threats

SB 1720 allows district employee identities to remain confidential when reporting potential threats to campus threat assessment teams. Identities may only be disclosed to the team, district, or law enforcement to investigate. Districts must maintain a confidential record of reporter identities.

Educators should look for additional information from their school districts as these policies are implemented and be advised that educators’ rights may be further modified during the anticipated special session on public education issues this fall.


The legal information provided here is accurate as of the date of publication. It is provided here for informative purposes only. Individual legal situations vary greatly, and readers needing individual legal advice should consult directly with an attorney. Please note: Rights based on the Texas Education Code may not apply to all. Many Texas Education Code provisions do not apply to public charter schools, and public school districts may have opted out of individual provisions through a District of Innovation plan. Eligible ATPE members may contact the ATPE Member Legal Services Department.