Military Spouse Takes on Texas Education Agency for SCRA Violation

The life of a military spouse can be a difficult one. You may find yourself living in a new place – even a new country – every few years. Uprooting an entire life and starting again fresh can be a challenge for adults as well as children, which is why a recent amendment to the Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA) was such a boon to military spouses.

The provision, per the Department of Justice, was designed “to make it easier for servicemembers and military spouses to have their professional licenses recognized when they relocate to another state due to military orders. The new SCRA license portability provision provides that servicemembers and military spouses can have their out-of-state licenses recognized as valid in the new state while they are stationed there as long as they meet certain requirements.”

Unless you’re in Texas, that is. Despite having its own “Military Spouse Appreciate Day” (May 8, in case you’re wondering), Texas’s licensing authorities have said that the SCRA provision doesn’t apply here.

Grable Grimshaw PLLC is taking up the fight. We’ve filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas asserting that Texas’ licensing practice violates federal rights protected under the SCRA. Hannah Magee Portèe v. Mike Morath, in his official capacity as Commissioner of Education, Texas Education Agency, and State Board for Educator Certification, filed in the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, Cause No. 1:23-cv-00551.

Military Spouse takes on Texas Education

It’s our honor to fight for military spouses

Our client, plaintiff Hannah Magee Portèe, is a school counselor with licenses issued from Ohio and Missouri. She moved to Texas due to her husband’s military orders. Under the SCRA provision, her out of state licenses are deemed valid in Texas. However, the Texas Defendants refuse to accept her out of state licenses and want her to sit for a state exam. They are disregarding her federally protected rights.

As highlighted by the DOJ, active-duty military spouses have a 21% unemployment rate, which is more than five times higher than that of the general population. This high rate of unemployment has been driven in part by frequent military moves and licensure requirements faced by spouses who move to a different state. The recent amendment to the SCRA concerning portability of professional licenses was intended to curb this. Unfortunately, at this juncture, it is clear that servicemembers and spouses face an uphill battle while licensing agencies go through the learning curb.

We look forward to prevailing, and are incredibly proud to represent Hannah and dozens of other military spouses and servicemembers in a wide array of issues.

Case Highlights

  • Plaintiff has a right to practice under the license portability provision of the SCRA, which sent into effect in Jan 2023.
  • Texas does not have the right to defy a federal law.
  • Preliminary injunction granted to Plaintiff, which lays the groundwork for other military spouses seeking to challenge licensing authorities across the country.

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