Texas charters achieved a major victory on March 15th when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) upheld a June 2017 Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) decision dismissing a concerted activity claim by a former employee of Universal Academy on the grounds that the NLRB does not have jurisdiction over Texas public charter schools under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). As a result of this decision, the NLRA does not apply to Texas charter schools and public charter school employees are treated in the same manner as ISD employees for purpose of the NLRA. Click here to read the complete NLRB decision.
Tommy Fuller of the Fuller Law Group represented Universal Academy and successfully argued that charter schools are exempt from the NLRB’s jurisdiction because they qualify as political subdivisions for the purposes of the National Labor Relations Act. Two key factors appear to have persuaded the NLRB on the jurisdictional question: (1) the Texas Commissioner of Education’s ability to reconstitute the governing board of a charter school, including the power to make appointments to the board upon reconstitution; and (2) the power of reconstitution is unreviewable unless arbitrary or clearly erroneous.
This victory for Texas charter schools also provides a pathway for other states to follow regarding the NLRB’s jurisdiction over public charter schools. On April 5, 2018, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on a NLRA case involving a Louisiana charter school. Last year, TCSA and the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools filed an Amicus Curiae in support of the Louisiana charter school’s claims. We hope the decision from the NLRB in the Universal Academy case will persuade the Court to rule in favor of exempting Louisiana public charter schools from the NLRB’s jurisdiction and a consistent standard for all charter schools will be applied across the Fifth Circuit.
As always, do not hesitate to contact TCSA Legal for more details about the case or other legal matters important to the charter school movement.