HOUSTON – The Texas Education Agency has notified the Houston Independent School District regarding a takeover of its schools.
In an interview with FOX 26’s Damali Keith, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said a letter was sent to the Houston ISD Board of Trustees. Within that letter, it was announced, “we will be placing a board of managers to govern Houston ISD.”
“This action is necessitated because of the conditions of the schools in Houston ISD. Houston has many schools that are outstanding, some of the best schools in the state, and in fact, large numbers of kids in Houston are truly flourishing. But there’s also a number of students in Houston ISD who the district is simply not provided adequate supports for those students to be successful, and in some cases, for extended periods of time.”
The announcement will not take immediate effect, so there will be no changes happening today in Houston.
Houston ISD released this statement:
“HISD has received official notice that the Texas Education Agency intends to replace Houston ISD’s superintendent and elected trustees of the Board of Education with an appointed superintendent and board of managers in the next few months. The Board is reviewing this notice to determine next steps.
In the meantime, our great schools remain open and committed to providing a meaningful educational experience for all students. The District’s top priority is, and will continue to be, student outcomes. The Board hopes that TEA has a clear and transparent process for this announced transition that is communicated to the community and the District.
The Board, in partnership with District Administration, will work with the Commissioner of Education to create a smooth transition for the sake of all HISD students, staff, and families.”
The TEA will be posting on its website a “very transparent application process for individual Houstonians who want to serve on that board to volunteer to do so.”
The TEA will then spend the next few months reviewing, interviewing candidates, and making sure they’re prepared.
“We want a group that has a really diverse background that has different life experiences, different lived experiences, because only when you bring together people that have a common purpose, but from differing backgrounds, can you then make really the best decisions for a very diverse group of students in Houston,” said Morath.
And on or about June 1, that is when the TEA will officially name the Board of Managers and the superintendent. That’s the group that will be leading Houston ISD during the takeover.
The reason for the takeover is due to a law that was set up to ensure school board and school systems are supporting all students, not just some of them.
Officials said there have been seven board of manager interventions in the last 20 years where the state had to place a board of managers in a school district to operate the school district for a period of time.
Morath didn’t go into any explicit detail naming any one school campus being to blame for the takeover. However, he did respond to the school district’s recent B-plus rating.
“Superintendent House has been leading the district very ably, is a student focused man of integrity, been very focused on trying to meet student needs for the last 18, 24 months. The district has gotten better. And yet, even with those supports, it appears that Houston, as a system, is just simply not capable of moving at the speed that it needs to, to remedy some of these situations where campuses will struggle chronically, and not due to a lack of effort of individual educators, certainly not due to a lack of effort of kids or parents, but the kinds of structured supports that you get from central office, that you get from the leadership at the top.”
As far as Superintendent Millard House II remaining superintendent of Houston ISD, a new superintendent for the Board of Managers hasn’t been named yet.
“We will name the superintendent the same time that we name the final board on or about June 1. And I do want to say Superintendent House has been a tremendous leader for this district for the last 18, 24 months. I’ve talked to him. I, we would like him to lead throughout this period of transition. He has been a great servant leader for that district. And he has my full support through the entirety of this transition. Also, want to continue to capitalize on his institutional expertise as we go through this transition moving forward,” Morath said.
Superintendent House released the following statement on Wednesday:
“I stepped into my role understanding the obstacles we faced as a district including a looming TEA intervention. My team and I remained focused on building a framework that prioritized a high quality educational experience supported by world class talent for all students.
I am proud to say, in the last 19 months, we have already seen vast improvements. Because of the hard work of our students, teachers, and staff, we have lifted 40 of 50 schools off the D or F TEA accountability ratings list. Together, with our parents, community members and leaders, we developed the district’s first comprehensive five-year strategic plan to build a better HISD.
Today’s announcement does not discount the gains we have made district-wide. I am confident our educators and staff will continue to do the necessary work to ensure positive student outcomes at every level. For our students and families, it is education as usual, and the school year continues as normal. As we wrap up this school year, my focus will be on working with our Board of Trustees and the TEA to ensure a smooth transition without disruption to our core mission of providing an exceptional educational experience for all students.”