Parents, educators and students hold rally denouncing state takeover of Houston ISD

Houston Independent School District (KPRC)

HOUSTON – On Thursday afternoon, dozens of parents, educators, and students held a news conference opposing the state’s takeover of the Houston Independent School District.

“We don’t need a state takeover, we need support,” said Ruth Kravetz, co-founder of Community Voices for Public Education.

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On Jan. 13, The Texas Supreme Court cleared the way for the state to potentially take control of the Houston Independent School District, which state education officials say has been plagued by mismanagement and low academic performance at one of its high schools.

“Houstonians don’t want to lose their voice in school policy through their locally elected officials. Far-away state officials have a thinly veiled agenda that will ruin our public schools and isn’t supported by parents, teachers or the larger community,” said Daniel Santos, executive vice president of the Houston Federation of Teachers.

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath first moved to take over the district’s school board in 2019 in response to allegations of misconduct by trustees and years of low performance at Phillis Wheatley High School.

Houston ISD sued and, in 2020, a Travis County district judge halted Morath’s plan by granting a temporary injunction. The injunction was upheld by an appeals court, but the TEA took the case to the state’s highest court, where the agency’s lawyers argued last year that a 2021 law — which went into effect after the case was first taken to court — allows for a state takeover.

The Texas Supreme Court sided with TEA and threw out the injunction, saying it isn’t appropriate under the new law.

The decision could allow TEA to put in place new school board members, who could then vote to end the lawsuit.