(Texas Education Code §31.104)

The board of trustees of a school district may not require an employee of the district to pay for a textbook or instructional technology that is stolen, misplaced, damaged, or not returned by a student. The only caveat is that the school employee act in “good faith” in an effort to maintain these items.  Each student, or the student’s parent or guardian, is responsible for each textbook not returned by the student. A student who fails to return all textbooks forfeits the right to free textbooks until the student, parent, or guardian pays for each textbook previously issued but not returned.

This includes textbooks, calculators, iPads, laptops, and more. So if you or your colleagues receive anything from your administrators saying that you’re responsible for paying for lost or stolen textbooks or instructional materials, be aware of your rights! Administrators should know that they aren’t allowed to require teachers to pay for these things, but we hear about it happening every year, regardless.

As provided by policy of the board of trustees or governing body, a school district or open- enrollment charter school may waive or reduce the payment requirement if the student is from a low-income family. The district or school shall allow the student to use textbooks at school during each school day. If a textbook is not returned or paid for, the district or school may withhold the student’s records. A district or school may not, under this subsection, prevent a student from graduating, participating in a graduation ceremony, or receiving a diploma.

How to Protect Yourself: If you sign a withdrawal form for a student without the return of a textbook, be sure that the withdrawal form indicates that the book has not been returned. Keep a copy of the withdrawal form with your textbook records so that you can account for that particular book. If you use class sets of books, count them before the class ends to be sure that all books have been returned and that they stay in the classroom. In addition, if you find something missing from your classroom be sure to report it missing, in writing, to the appropriate administrator as soon as possible.

Here’s the specific part of the code, which also notes rules around items used by teachers for personal business:

(e) The board of trustees of a school district may not require an employee of the district who acts in good faith to pay for instructional materials or technological equipment that is damaged, stolen, misplaced, or not returned. A school district employee may not waive this provision by contract or any other means, except that a district may enter into a written agreement with a school employee whereby the employee assumes financial responsibility for electronic instructional material or technological equipment usage off school property or outside of a school-sponsored event in consideration for the ability of the school employee to use the electronic instructional material or technological equipment for personal business. Such a written agreement shall be separate from the employee’s contract of employment, if applicable, and shall clearly inform the employee of the amount of the financial responsibility and advise the employee to consider obtaining appropriate insurance. An employee may not be required to agree to such an agreement as a condition of employment.