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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:This case concerns the authority of school districts to implement and enforce policies involving employees’ statutory personal leave. Texas Education Code �22.003(a). The appellant, Donna Amaral-Whittenberg, argues that various personal leave policies of Castleberry Independent School District violate the education code’s directive that a school district board of trustees may not restrict the purposes for which leave may be used. The district court affirmed the decision of the commissioner of education (the commissioner) that the district’s policies do not violate the education code. HOLDING:Affirmed. Amaral-Whittenberg summarizes her facial challenge in this way: that the policies, by denying leave on certain days, actually have the effect of restricting the purposes for taking many kinds of personal leave. She argues that the commissioner’s standard � that policies be facially neutral, have a rational basis, and not make it impossible or difficult to use personal leave � constitutes an exception to the statutory requirement. The court disagrees. In matters of education law, courts should defer to the Commissioner’s reasonable determination in an area where he possesses authority and expertise. Section 22.003(a) allows school districts to adopt policies “governing an employee’s use of personal leave” but “may not restrict the purposes for which the leave may be used.” Any regulation of leave necessarily involves setting standards by which leave will be granted on some days and denied on others. However, the fact that a regulation could have the effect of denying leave on some days does not automatically transform that regulation into one that restricts the purposes for which leave may be used. The court believes the standard articulated by the commissioner to be a reasonable interpretation of the Legislature’s intent in �22.003(a). It ensures that proper regulations will not distinguish between worthy or unworthy uses of leave. It compels a rational basis for each policy. It focuses on the intent of the Legislature in granting guaranteed personal leave for school employees by setting as a boundary that any leave policy must not make it difficult or impossible for a school employee to use guaranteed leave. Because the commissioner’s standard requires facial neutrality on the part of leave policies and because the standard employs the goals of �22.003(a) in crafting a reasoned approach to evaluating individual policies, the court defers to the commissioner and adopts his standard in evaluating Amaral-Whittenberg’s facial challenge to the district’s leave policies. Applying the commissioner’s standard to the challenged policies, the court holds that the district’s policies comply facially with the requirements of �22.003(a). OPINION:Law, J.; Law, C.J., Smith and Patterson, JJ.

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