So, the Legislature Has Waived Your Governmental Immunity . . . Or Has It?
As political subdivisions of the state, Texas school districts and community colleges are generally immune from claims absent an express legislative waiver. Although certain statutes, including the Texas Whistleblower Act and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (“TCHRA”), do contemplate the waiver of governmental immunity, it is important to remember that they do so only to the extent that the plaintiff has asserted a valid claim. This means that a school district or community college sued under these statutes may be able to bring the lawsuit to an early end by filing a plea to the jurisdiction arguing that the plaintiff has not alleged (or cannot prove) the elements of their claim, or that they failed to strictly comply with any statutory prerequisites.
A recent opinion from the Austin Court of Appeals rendered judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s claims in just such a case. Austin Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Anderson, No. 03-21-00286-CV, 2022 WL 3649357 (Tex. App.—Austin, Aug. 25, 2022, no pet. h.). School districts and community colleges should take note of this opinion for three reasons.