Houston teachers union lawsuit claims TEA takeover is ‘flagrantly unconstitutional’

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HOUSTON — The Houston Federation of Teachers has filed a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency to stop its takeover of the Houston ISD school board. The teachers union is arguing the state takeover is unconstitutional and discriminates against people based on race.

Zeph Capo, the president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, has gone as far as to say the state’s action to take over the district is “flagrantly unconstitutional and has nothing to do with giving kids a strong public education.”

The state takeover was announced Nov. 6 and part of the state's reasoning was the continual failing of Wheatley High School.

The union believes the take over will not only negatively impact minority children and deny their right to a quality education, but that it also defies the voice of the voters since new school board members were just elected.

The federal lawsuit filed alleges the takeover violates the 14th and 15th amendments of the U.S. constitution and the Texas Equal Rights Act.

“The Houston Federation of Teachers and our plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit in Austin to stop this illegal, political, power grab that would marginalize and deny black and brown children their right to a quality education,” Capo said.

Capo went on to say he thinks the plan by governor Abbott and TEA commissioner Mike Morath to privatize the district with charter schools.

Jackie Anderson, who has been a special education teacher for the last 33 years and currently serving at Ortiz Middle School, said the state takeover is a form of suppression. She is one of the HISD teachers involved in the lawsuit.

"My vote should count," Anderson said. "To say that it does not count is a violation of my rights as a citizen and any form of suppression is wrong. We have a democratically elected school board that should be allowed the opportunity to do the job that they have been elected to do."

There are three Houston ISD teachers that are plaintiffs in this case.

“Houston ISD students will pay a high price for the state’s misguided attempt to takeover and privatize our schools," said Maxie Hollingsworth, who is a parent of two HISD students and teaches math at Red Elementary. "A takeover would mean fewer resources available to students and a loss of solid instructional leaders on so many HISD campuses."

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