Why isn’t DISD offering DP benefits? Because it can’t, spokesman says

The Dallas school district has often been at the forefront in Texas when it comes to LGBT equality.

In the mid-1990s, DISD was the first district in the state to pass a nondiscrimination policy that included sexual orientation. And as recently as 2010, DISD was the first in the state to enact a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that included both sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

So, after it was widely reported earlier this week that Pflugerville ISD had become the first in the state to offer domestic partner benefits to employees, I reached out to spokesman Jon Dahlander to find out why DISD isn’t doing this. Dahlander explained that DISD can’t offer DP benefits because its health insurance is through the Teacher Retirement System of Texas’ ActiveCare program.

“Because TRS ActiveCare does not recognize same-sex couples, we cannot offer that benefit. They do recognize common law marriage for benefits, however,” Dahlander said.

“The Teacher Retirement System of Texas administers the TRS-ActiveCare benefits program for Dallas ISD.  TRS-ActiveCare covers an employee’s spouse, including a common law spouse,” Dahlander added. “The program does not cover domestic partners, therefore the district cannot offer that benefit. We’ve had TRS-ActiveCare for probably eight years or so now, as do many school districts in Texas, in large part to give employees access to lower rates because of the sheer numbers involved.”

—  John Wright