HOUSTON (KIAH) — The Texas Education Agency has alerted local lawmakers that they will takeover the Houston Independent School District, Nexstar Texas has learned.

Texas Education Agency commissioner Mike Morath met with Houston-area lawmakers and announced plans to takeover the district in the coming months.

“We’re outraged. It’s a dark day for HISD,” state Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Houston) told Nexstar Texas.

In a statement, HISD superintendent Millard House II said that the district will remain focused on their current work and thanked students, teachers and staff for their hard work to lift the district out of a D accountability rating to a B.

“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,” House said.

“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,” House continued.

“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.”

The takeover is something that’s been on the table since 2019 and a recent Texas Supreme Court ruling removed the final hurdle.

But U.S. Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee says she is planning to delay the HISD takeover. She tweeted she is in Austin meeting with Morath, and also said she is notifying the U.S. Department of Education, calling the takeover “discriminatory.”

Meanwhile, the Texas Tribune is reporting that they have obtained documents from the TEA’s website for job postings for positions of a new school board for HISD.   

Replacing the HISD superintendent and school board with state appointees is an option. But the TEA could also go to less extreme measures.

The TEA moved to take over HISD in 2019 after allegations of misconduct and failing scores at Wheatly High School. But years of legal filings and court rulings have delayed the takeover until the Texas Supreme Court in 2021 threw out an injunction from Travis County allowing the TEA commissioner to replace the district superintendent and school board.

Meanwhile, Wheatley’s scores have improved to passing with a C grade, and HISD’s grade is now at a B.

The HISD Board of Education sent the following 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,” the statement said.

“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 statement continued.

“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.”