Voters in Houston elected two new members to the HISD board of trustees on Tuesday, and put four candidates in two other races into a runoff. On Wednesday, the Texas Education Agency, or TEA, announced it is officially taking over that board.
The TEA move was expected – several schools in Houston ISD have failing records and the district has gone through some very public drama. But Houston Chronicle k-12 education reporter Jacob Carpenter says there are still questions about what’s next.
Carpenter says the TEA will replace the elected HISD board with nine people chosen by the agency.
“Elected board members will still retain their titles. Eventually they will be phased back onto the board,” Carpenter says.
In the meantime, the appointed board will take over in late winter or early spring of next year.
The board takeover has its roots in a state law passed in 2015. Under the law, it a school district has at least one school that has received five consecutive failing grades under the state’s accountability system, the TEA commissioner must either close the school or replace the school board.
In Houston, historic Wheatley High School has repeatedly failed to meet state accountability standards. Carpenter says the TEA felt that replacing the school board was preferable to closing the school.
Carpenter says Houston ISD overall is a well-performing school district.
“Compared to its peers, Houston ISD is probably a slightly above-average large urban district,” Carpenter says. “Under the state’s academic accountability system, it’s a B-rated district.”
The bill that ended up shutting down the elected school board was spearheaded by a Houston legislator who “was sick and tired of seeing Kashmere High School and Wheatley High School continue to fail,” Carpenter says.
Houston ISD is seeking an injunction to stop the TEA takeover. A hearing is scheduled for early December. Carpenter says it is likely the state will prevail, and that the board will be replaced.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.