Dianna D. Bowen is a partner in the Dallas and Fort Worth offices of Thompson & Horton LLP. For over seventeen years, she has successfully defended public school districts, charter schools, independent schools, and public and private colleges and universities on a wide range of school law issues, including personnel, special education, discrimination, employee and parent grievances, student discipline, public information, open meetings, civil rights, sexual harassment, privacy rights, and governance.  Dianna represents these entities in all aspects of litigation, including proceedings before the governing body, in state and federal courts and before administrative agencies. She also counsels and advises administrators in formulating preventive strategies, drafting personnel policies and procedures, and training employees in all areas of school and employment law.

Dianna has wide-spread experience in administrative proceedings before the Texas Education Agency (TEA) regarding personnel and special education. Specifically, in the past 10 years, Dianna has represented school districts in over 100 nonrenewal and termination hearings under Chapter 21 of the Texas Education Code in front of a hearing officer appointed by TEA and/or the district board of trustees and over 40 special education due process hearings before a special education hearing officer appointed by TEA.

Dianna also has specific experience in litigating cases in state and federal court regarding claims brought under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1991, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Americans with Disabilities Act, , the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (as amended), the United States Constitution, the Constitution of the State of Texas, 42 United States Code Sections 1983, 1981, and 1988, the Texas Labor Code, and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.

Dianna has been repeatedly recognized as a Texas Rising Star in the area of School Law. And, if Dianna had a superpower, it would be to clone herself at various times of the day so that she could be an amazing lawyer, wife, and mom all at the same time!

Primary Practice Areas

  • Special Education and Section 504
  • Nonrenewals/Terminations of Public School Employees
  • Employee Grievances
  • Employment Discrimination and Harassment
  • Employee and Student Disabilities
  • Litigation – Schools, Students, Public Sector Employees
  • Employee Leaves
  • Investigations
  • Section 1983 and Constitutional Claims
  • Student Rights and Discipline

Representative Matters

  • Represented public school district in appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding special education request for reimbursement for a student attending private school
  • Represented public school district in trial court and 5th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding alleged violations of Title IX regarding a special education student
  • Represented public school districts in over 100 termination or nonrenewal hearings, over 200 grievance hearings, and over 30 special education due process hearings.
  • Represented independent school in lawsuit brought by parent alleging breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, and conspiracy for retention of student.
  • Handled numerous EEOC and TWC charges for both private and public employers.
  • Successfully resolved Section 1983 lawsuit alleging injury to a student
  • Achieved full dismissal of 2 lawsuits alleging violations of Section 504 of the ADA, Section 1983, IDEA, and due process.
  • Achieved full dismissal of 11-cause of action employment dispute in federal court on a motion for summary judgment, which included sex and race discrimination claims, breach of contract claims, and constitutional claims, which was affirmed on appeal.
  • Achieved full dismissal of state whistleblower case.
  • Achieved full dismissal of lawsuit for alleged retaliation in hiring practices, which was affirmed on appeal.
  • Achieved full dismissal of state lawsuit brought by employee alleging national origin, race, color, and sex discrimination and harassment, and retaliation.
  • Achieved dismissal of workers’ compensation retaliation lawsuit.
  • Successfully resolved FLSA lawsuit for private corporation.
  • Achieved successful results in over 25 mediations regarding employment disputes and special education matters.
  • Defended schools in multiple Office of Civil Rights investigations
  • Provided training and advice and counsel for over 30 public school districts and 20 independent schools

Reported Cases

  • Dallas ISD v. Michelle Woody, 865 F.3d 303 (5th Cir. 2017)(affirming that school district was not obligated under the IDEA to provide disabled student with immediate interim special education services and only ordering reimbursement after school district had opportunity to evaluate and offer FAPE)
  • Elia Bruns v. Dallas ISD, 2017 WL 1737983 (Tex. App. – Dallas 2017)(affirming trial court’s judgment dismissing retaliation claim for engaging in protected activity for lack of jurisdiction and affirming motion for summary judgment for disability discrimination and failure to accommodate claims)
  • Doe v. Dallas ISD, 194 F.Supp.3d 551 (N.D. Tex. 2016)(special education student’s parent claims under Section 1983, Title IX, and state tort claims for sexual harassment of student dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and failure to state a claim for relief for parental rights under due process clause, failure to train, and finding there was no special relationship with student for due process purposes)
  • Karen Austen v. Weatherford College of the Parker County Junior College District, 2014 WL 1509563 (5th Cir. 2014)(denying appeal of district court’s dismissal of retaliation and sex discrimination claims under Title VII and TCHRA, free speech claims, and breach of contract claim)
  • Alexandrae Crutcher v. Dallas ISD, 410 S.W.3d 487 (Tex. App. – Dallas 2013)(affirmed ruling of trial court granting District’s motion for summary judgment regarding claims related to retaliation in hiring practices)
  • Rodney Bennett v. Dallas ISD, 936 F. Supp. 2d 767 (N.D. Tex. 2013)(dismissing ADA and USERRA lawsuit on motion for summary judgment)
  • Karen Austen v. Weatherford College of the Parker County Junior College District, 2012 WL 3223664, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111739 (N.D. Tex 2012)(dismissing 11-count lawsuit on motion for summary judgment regarding employment dispute including claims under Title VI, TCHRA, Section 1981, Section 1983, breach of contract, free speech, Title IX, and due process)
  • Elias Hooker v. Dallas ISD, 2011 WL 1592325 (N.D. Tex. 2011)(final judgment dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff’s IDEA and Section 1983 claims against the District)
  • David Hooker v. Dallas ISD, 2011 WL 832169 (N.D. Tex. 2011)(granting District’s and individual defendants motion for summary judgment for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and failure to state claims on which relief can be granted regarding student’s special education services)
  • Anthony Peterson v. Dallas ISD, 2008 WL 4830365 (N.D. Tex. 2008)(granting District’s motion to dismiss regarding multi-Plaintiff Section 1983 cause of action for race discrimination in allocation of resources based on governmental immunity and standing)
  • Miller v. Wachovia Bank, NA, 541 F. Supp. 2d 858 (N.D. Tex. 2008) (dismissing co-worker holding that co-worker cannot be individually liable under Section 1981 for intential race discrimination or for creating racially hostile work environment)
  • Michael Rodgers v. Dallas ISD, 2007 WL 1686508 (N.D. Tex. 2007) (dismissing frivolous claims filed by parent and sanctioning parent for filing numerous lawsuits without merit)
  • Gilberto Hernandez v. Duncanville ISD, 2006 WL 1140665 (N.D. Tex. 2006)(dismissing employee’s retaliation and discrimination claims against the District)
  • Michael Rodgers v. Duncanville ISD, 2005 WL 991287 (N.D. Tex. 2005)(affirming district’s right to prevent a disruptive parent from entering a school campus)
  • Gilberto Hernandez v. Duncanville ISD, 2005 WL 3293995 (N.D. Tex. 2005)(dismissing case against individual employee supervisors on the bases of qualified immunity)
  • Oliver v. Dallas ISD, 2004 WL 1800878 (N.D. Tex. 2004)(granting school district’s motions form summary judgment because plaintiff filed to exhaust administrative remedies required under the IDEA and Section 1983 and because plaintiff raised no genuine issue of material fact that the administrative procedures are excused by futility or lack of notice)

Speeches and Presentations

  • Reasonable Accommodations: What’s Required of You Under the ADA
  • FMLA Basics for School Supervisors
  • A Top 20 Hits of Legal Issues in Special Education
  • Legal Guidance for Dealing with the Police, CPS, and Divorced Parents
  • Good Commincation in the Digital World: Prevent Embarrassments and Avoid Liability
  • Effective IEP Team Documentation: An IEP is Worth a 1,000 Words
  • Internal Employee Investigations: Do’s and Don’t’s
  • There’s a New Standard of FAPE – Fact or Fiction?
  • Ethics: Always on Call – The School Attorney’s Guide to Texts, Emails, and Late-Night Phone Calls
  • Bring Your Own Devices – Just Don’t Bring Me a Lawsuit
  • Don’t be Handicapped When Dealing with Student Disabilities
  • Investigations: She Said What?!? Effective Workplace Investigations
  • Student/Adult Interactions: Respect the Boundaries or Pay the Price
  • My Space, Your Space, Our Space: Managing Social Media in Schools
  • E-Myth Busters: Technology Trends and Traps
  • An Introduction to Education Law
  • ARD Do’s and Don’ts
  • Lessons Learned: TEA Due Process Hearings
  • Student Health Service Trends: Educating the Medically Fragile Student
  • Sexual Harassment of Students and Employees: A Short Course
  • This is Going on Your Permanent Record:       Effective Employee Documentation
  • Child Abuse and How to Deal with CPS
  • 10 Things You Should Know Before Going Back to School
  • Fixing the Wage Hour Problem Lurking in Your School