HOUSTON (KIAH) — For several years now, the Texas Education Agency has fought to remove the superintendent and board of trustees for the Houston Independent School District and replace them with state-appointed officials.
On Wednesday, Mayor Sylvester Turner told the city council that his “sources”, including “legislators”, are saying the TEA will likely move forward with those plans and possibly as early as next week.
“What they’re saying to me is that the state intends to take over Houston Independent School District replacing the entire board, replacing the superintendent, and running — taking over — the entire school district,” Turner said.
U.S. Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Houston) now has gotten involved in the situation, asking for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education into the TEA into how it is handling the takeover of HISD.
“This is a reckless destructive decision and if it goes forward the education of the children of HISD will be irreparably harmed,” Jackson Lee said in a statement. “This decision seems to be only made to make good on someone’s political agenda.”
The school district is fighting the takeover through the legal system, but a ruling in January by the Texas Supreme Court cleared the way for the TEA to move forward with its takeover plans.
Turner stands firmly against that idea.
“I find that totally alarming — totally alarming,” he said. “This district has 273 schools — nearly 190,000 students. How do you come in and take over the largest school district in the State of Texas? How can you do that and do it successfully?
A TEA takeover of HISD has its supporters who believe the move would benefit students.
It’s clear that Turner is not one of them, and he has his doubts that the state’s “model” — replacing the superintendent and school board with state-appointees — will work.
“What I’ve been doing this morning is checking to see whether or not there’s any successful model in the country, and there is none,” Turner said. “There’s not a successful model of this kind in the country.”
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, the Congresswoman for the 18th District of Texas which includes parts of the Houston area released a statement about the possible TEA takeover of HISD:
“I believe the state takeover as proposed and as rumored in years past and now seemingly a reality today in 2023 is unnecessary, unfair and discriminatory. I have written to the U.S. Department of Education and spoken directly to the Secretary of Education in a detailed discussion to urge an immediate establishment of a civil rights investigation into the State of Texas un-needed action to takeover a well-performing school district. The Houston Independent School District with an elected school board, a professional superintendent, and administration, staff, and teachers that are dedicated to the teaching of the students and parents who want their children taught by well supported public schools should not be taken over at this time.
This is a reckless destructive decision and if it goes forward the education of the children of HISD will be irreparably harmed. This decision seems to be only made to make good on someone’s political agenda. I am asking the State of Texas, the Texas Education Agency to cease and desist from any takeover and I am asking parents, teachers, administrators, and others to demand that HISD be removed from a takeover list and that teachers, parents, students, administrators be allowed to enjoy the benefit of the success that has occurred through the hard work of these leaders. The Federal Government must act now to stop this takeover.”