Recognizing and Responding to Teen Dating Violence Toolkit
3.5 School Legislative Requirements
Dating Violence Policy
School districts are required to have and implement a dating violence policy (Texas Education Code 37.0831) which includes a definition of dating violence and reporting procedures and guidelines for students experiencing dating violence. The reporting procedures must include notifying a parent or guardian if their child is identified as an alleged victim or perpetrator of dating violence. The policy must also address safety planning and training for teachers and administrators, counseling for affected students, and awareness education on campuses that instruct students in grade six or higher.
Each school board must also adopt a policy for the process of adopting dating violence prevention curriculum materials (Texas Education Code 28.004). The School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) is responsible for recommending appropriate grade levels and curriculum for instruction on topics including dating violence. SHAC recommendations are provided to the board at a public board meeting. Prior to adopting any curriculum materials, the board is responsible for ensuring that the materials are based on SHAC advice, the content is suitable for the subject and grade level intended, and that it is reviewed by academic experts. The board is authorized to determine the specific content of the instruction, including the essential knowledge and skills which address these topics developed by the State Board of Education.
The school board, with SHAC input, is responsible for the decision of whether instruction will be provided on dating violence, and if so, the selection and addition of course materials, curriculum, and instruction. If dating violence prevention instruction will be provided, school districts must make all curriculum materials available to parents. If the materials are not copyrighted, districts must send a copy to a parent upon request, and they must post the materials on the district's website. If these materials are purchased and copyrighted, districts are required to ensure that their purchase agreement provides a way for parents to review the materials either at the student's campus or online, while complying with copyright laws, or to purchase a copy at a price no higher than what the district paid per unit.
Before each school year, districts are required to provide written notice to parents on the board decision of whether instruction will be provided on dating violence. If instruction will be provided, certain requirements, including a detailed description of the content, schedule for instruction, parental rights, and grievance procedures must be included in the parental notice. Districts must have written parental consent before students may be instructed on the prevention of dating violence. The request for parental consent must be provided before the 14th day before the instruction begins. In other words, parents must opt-in for their child to receive this dating violence instruction.
Districts must make reasonable efforts to make age-appropriate educational materials on the dangers of dating violence and resources available to students.
School Behavioral Threat Assessment
Dating violence is an example of “harmful, threatening, or violent” behavior listed in Texas Education Code 37.115. As such, it falls under the Safe and Supportive School Program (SSSP) team, commonly referred to as the threat assessment team. One of the team’s responsibilities is to conduct behavioral threat assessments. School behavioral threat assessment and management is a proactive and evidence-based approach for identifying people who may pose a threat and for providing interventions before a violent incident occurs. The board of trustees of each public school district or open-enrollment charter school is responsible for establishing a team to serve each campus of the district. A team may serve more than one campus, but each campus must have a team assigned to it.
Dating violence is a school safety issue. The violence can take place at school or impact the victim at school. As school safety is a shared responsibility, you play an important role in keeping your child’s school safe and free from violence. If you are not aware of who is on the SSSP team that serves your child’s campus or how to report a concern to the team, ask the school principal or administration.
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that protects people from discrimination in an educational setting based on their sex. Specifically, Title IX states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” These regulations apply to elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools.
In 2020, new regulations were placed on schools regarding how schools respond to sexual harassment allegations by students and employees. Per the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, sexual harassment is defined, in part, as conduct based on sex and it includes dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault, as they are defined in the Voices Against Women Act.
A Parent’s Guide to School Safety
The Texas School Safety Center understands that school safety is a primary concern for parents and created a resource to help. A Parent’s Guide to School Safety Toolkit introduces key school safety topics, highlights relevant Texas laws, and provides specific information that you and your child need to know. This toolkit is designed to be a resource which you can read from start to finish, or you can utilize the Table of Contents to read more about specific safety topics, including dating violence. The guidance and resources will equip you with how to best support your child and your child’s school.