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Frels, Kelly
Kelly Frels
Of Counsel
P: +1.713.221.1203
F: +1.713.222.3260

Jo Nell Cass


Kelly Frels, the firm's managing partner from 1995 through 2001 and the managing partner of the Houston office from 2001 to 2003, has been an attorney for public and private schools, community colleges, universities and other public bodies for more than 45 years. His current focus is providing counsel in governance, employment, desegregation and other civil rights issues. He also serves as a mediator in complex education disputes.

Mr. Frels was lead attorney for the Houston Independent School District (HISD) in its successful transition from a segregated to an integrated system in the 1970s and 1980s. He assisted HISD in establishing the Houston Community College as a component of HISD and later helped the community college become an independent entity.

His involvement in representing public school districts led him and five others to organize the School Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, which he later chaired. He served as the President of the Houston Bar Association and the State Bar of Texas.

Representative Matters

Houston Independent School Dist. v. Houston Chronicle Pub. Co., 798 S.W.2d 580, 64 Ed. Law Rep. 293; Tex. App. -- Hous., Aug 09, 1990. Privacy of personnel records held by educational institutions.

Houston Federation of Teachers, Local 2415 v. Houston Independent School Dist., 730 S.W.2d 644, 40 Ed. Law Rep. 533; Tex., Apr 22, 1987. When exhaustion of administrative remedies is required.

Ross v. Houston Independent School Dist., 699 F.2d 218; 5th Cir. (Tex.), 1983. The final appellate decision in the 30-year Houston desegregation case.

Wright v. Houston Independent School Dist., 366 F. Supp. 1208 (S.D. Tex. 1972) aff’d, 486 F.2d 137, 5th Cir. (Tex.), 1973; cert. denied, 1974. Evolution may constitutionally be taught in science classes.

Publications and Speeches

Co-author, "A Documentation System for Teacher Improvement or Termination," ELA monograph, sixth edition 2013.

Co-author, "Investigating Alleged Misconduct by Employees," NSBA Council of School Attorneys monograph, revised 2005.

Co-editor and author, "Texas School Law: A Practical Guide," Education Law Association, 1996; second edition 2004.

Authored or co-authored more than 50 articles relating to school law and professional issues.


J.D., The University of Texas School of Law, 1970
B.S., Texas State University, 1966

Bar Admissions


Court Admissions

U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 5th and 11th Circuits
U.S. District Court for the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas
U.S. Supreme Court


Texas Environmental Research Consortium, Chair, Board of Directors, 2006-2013
Greater Houston Partnership, Director and Director Emeritus, 1997-present
State Bar of Texas, President, 2004-2005
Houston Bar Association, President, 1994-1995
Texas Center for Legal Ethics, Chair 2009-2010
Center for Houston's Future, Chair 2010-2012


Woodward/White, Inc., Best Lawyers, 2008-2017
Thomson Reuters, Texas Super Lawyers, 2003-2016
National School Boards Association, Council of School Attorneys Chair 1977-1978; Recipient of the initial Chairman's Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2004
School Law Section State Bar of Texas Chair, 1977-1978; Recipient of the initial Kelly Frels Lifetime Achievement Award, 2012
Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas Award, 1979
Education Law Association President, 1978-1979; Recipient of the McGhehey Award for Lifetime Service, 1991