21′ SB1267/HB1233 – Bell/Zachary
This bill states that it will not prohibit public schools from adopting policies necessary to accommodate persons protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or young children in need of physical assistance when using restrooms or changing facilities located in public schools.
Under this bill, a person whose written request for a reasonable accommodation is denied by the public school will have a private right of action against the public school unless the public school can demonstrate that accommodation causes an undue hardship. A person has a private right of action when the person has given written notice in accordance with this bill, but the person:
(1) Later encounters a person of the opposite sex in a multi-occupancy restroom or changing facility designated for the person's sex and located in a public school building;
(2) Is required by the public school to share sleeping quarters with the opposite sex, unless the persons are members of the same family.
A civil action brought pursuant to this bill must be initiated within two years of the date on which the claim arose. A person aggrieved under this bill who prevails in court may recover monetary damages for all psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered. A person who prevails on a claim brought pursuant to this bill will be entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees and costs.
ON APRIL 19, 2021, THE HOUSE ADOPTED AMENDMENT #1 AND PASSED HOUSE BILL 1233, AS AMENDED:
(1) Revises the basis for making a reasonable accommodation to apply when the student, teacher, or employee:
(A) Desires greater privacy when using a multi-occupancy restroom or changing facility designated for the person's sex and located within a public school building, or when using multi-occupancy sleeping quarters designated for the person's sex while the person is attending a public school-sponsored activity; and
(B) Provides a written request for a reasonable accommodation to the school principal. If the person requesting a reasonable accommodation is under 18 years of age, then the person's parent or legal guardian must provide the written request on the person's behalf;
(2) Requires the school principal to evaluate the request on behalf of the public school and, to the extent practicable, provide a reasonable accommodation;
(3) Establishes an appeals process person may utilize when a request for reasonable accommodation is denied. The denial by the principal may be appealed to the director of schools, and a denial by the director of schools may be appealed to a hearing officer. This amendment sets out in detail the process for such appeals;
(4) Revises the private right of action under this bill so that, under this amendment, a person will have a private right of action if:
(A) The person encounters a member of the opposite sex in a multi-occupancy restroom or changing facility located in a public school building; the person is in a multi-occupancy restroom or changing facility designated for the person's sex; and the LEA or public school intentionally allowed a member of the opposite sex to enter the multi-occupancy restroom or changing facility while other persons were present; or
(B) The person is required by the public school to share sleeping quarters with persons of the opposite sex, unless the persons are members of the same family; and
(5) Reduces the statute of limitations for a civil action under this bill from two years to one year from the date on which the claim arose.
ON APRIL 21, 2021, THE SENATE SUBSTITUTED HOUSE BILL 1233 FOR SENATE BILL 1367, ADOPTED AMENDMENT #1, AND PASSED HOUSE BILL 1233, AS AMENDED.
SENATE AMENDMENT #1 incorporates the changes made by House Amendment #1 and:
(1) Clarifies that this bill's provisions apply to students, teachers, and employees of public schools, rather than any person;
(2) Adds a requirement that a principal issue a decision approving or denying a request for a reasonable accommodation in writing. If the principal denies the request, then the grounds for denial must be provided in the principal's written decision
TLRC supports this accommodation.
TLRC Observed Process
The bill passed on a purely partisan basis.
We cannot imagine why any member would want to deny their fellow citizens accommodations that would ensure the comfort of all parties!