Houston-area legislators met personally with the TEA commissioner in Austin at 9 a.m. on March 15th. In the meeting, Commissioner Mike Morath informed the legislators the state's plans for the district before a public announcement impacting 187,000 students and their families.
Three weeks ago, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said a takeover of the state's largest school district was imminent.
The Texas Tribune reported that a job posting seeking candidates to apply for a new board of managers to oversee HISD and a slideshow explaining the responsibilities of the body could be found on the TEA's website before they were taken down Tuesday night.
Speaking of a complete takeover, Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, said, "I believe the decision has been made, and they are determined to do this."
He joined several state officials, Houston-area leaders, and community members who have openly opposed a state takeover of HISD. Despite improvement, past failures at Wheatley High School and at the board level paved the way for the TEA to consider removing the board of trustees, replacing Superintendent Millard House II, and closing Wheatley down. The commissioner could announce action on none, or any combination of those options.
"I don't believe it's going to be positive and I want the public to be prepared for the worst. That's what we anticipate we will be receiving tomorrow," Reynolds said. "I'm prepared for taking over the board, taking over local control with a board of managers that will have no accountability to the public, that will only report to the TEA Commissioner."
Rep. Reynolds says he believes the decision will boil down to politics.
"I believe that they want to charterize many of these schools in HISD," Reynolds said. "And there is a great push toward vouchers and other things that gut public schools. So, this is the ugly side of politics that I despise."
Current trustee Kendall Baker said he isn't convinced that the state intervention would be a bad thing.
"Let's look at the positive side of it," Baker said. "Wait and see what happens. What has occurred in the past has got us in a little trouble. Now, the commissioner has the green light to come in and check. He has my full support in whatever happens."
Baker and the other trustees would lose their decision-making power in HISD if Commissioner Morath appoints a new board of managers that would be accountable to him, instead of local voters.
"The hope is that if it happens, they'll take over, rectify what they want, and then give it back. And they'll give it back to the sitting trustees," Baker said.
State law doesn't set a timeline for how long a takeover could last
According to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, there will be no immediate changes, though Superintendent Millard House II and the current trustees of HISD's board will eventually be replaced by the TEA with an appointed Board of Managers
Thanks for your reporting. HISD needs to be revamped. The leaderships failure to make this district great, heck better than crap, is what drives families to the suburbs. Might be time to break it up. It’s really to big to be accountable. Currently HISD is big drag on the city’s well being
Ps I gotta switch to a paid subscription. Really really appreciate your work
Thank you for sharing this, Marissa. I have lived in the Houston area since 1979, and HISD has been 'badly run' for years. I hope they implement 'voucher' / 'school choice' also. It's not fair to force children & parents to be stuck with a horrible school experience. Charter / 'private school voucher' should be offered also. Just my thoughts anyway. 🤷🏼♀️
I just subscribed to the monthly subscription. Really, really appreciate your reporting, Marissa!