The Texas Education Agency is poised to find new leaders for the Houston school district, according to the documents.
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Documents found on the Texas Education Agency website show the state is ready to appoint new leaders to take charge of the Houston Independent School District.
Job advertisements looking for candidates to apply for a new board of governors to oversee the state’s largest school district and a slideshow explaining the body’s responsibilities could be found on the TEA website before they were taken down Tuesday night. The Texas Tribune has kept copies of both documents.
Houston ISD Board of Managers Job Description
Frequently Asked Questions of the Houston ISD Board of Directors
TEA has yet to announce a takeover. The agency did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.
The slideshow states that TEA is appointing a new board in response to years of poor academic performance at one district high school, “requiring action to either close the campus or appoint a Board of Governors to govern the district.”
The TEA, tasked with overseeing and supporting about 1,200 school districts in the state, will begin interviewing board candidates with a view to appointing them by June 1, according to the documents. People wishing to be on the board of governors must be eligible to vote while residing within the boundaries of the Houston ISD. The TEA commissioner decides how long the board is in place.
Houston ISD will be the largest area the agency has taken over since 2000.
TEA Commissioner Mike Morath and the agency first attempted to oust the district’s school board in 2019 in response to allegations of trustee misconduct and years of poor student achievement at Phyllis Wheatley High School.
Houston ISD sued, and in 2020 the Travis County District Judge suspended Morata’s plan with a temporary injunction. The case eventually reached the Texas Supreme Court last October, when agency lawyers said the 2021 law, which went into effect after the case first went to court, allows an authorized TEA to replace the school board and its superintendent if one from his school get unsatisfactory grades in a row.
The Texas Supreme Court overturned the injunction in January and formalized its decision on March 1, clearing the way for TEA to appoint new school board members who could then vote to dismiss the lawsuit.
Houston ISD has 276 schools with approximately 200,000 students.
Student achievement has improved both at Phyllis Whitley and the district as a whole since Morath first announced a possible takeover. TEA, which annually ranks schools and districts based on their performance, gave the high school an F grade in 2019. Last year, Phyllis Wheatley received a C and Houston ISD as a whole received a B. Over the past 19 months, HISD has been successful in reducing the number of its campuses with a D or F rating from 50 to 10. 94% of HISD schools currently receive grades A, B or C.
TEA has covered over 15 school districts. It still operates Marlin ISD outside of Waco and Shepherd ISD east of Conroe. The agency returned control of eight districts to their local school boards; in other cases, he closed them or annexed them to other districts.
Advocates of a state takeover of the Houston ISD could get faltering school districts back on track. Critics say it undermines the will of the community by removing elected members of the district’s school board, and they fear the move could lead to layoffs. Days before TEA confirmed the takeover, parents and teachers at the March 3 HISD “State of Schools” dinner called the plan an affront to the district’s improvements and an unnecessary mid-spring disruption.
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