Concerned Reps Want Hearing on Biggest TX ISD

Houston ISD
Houston ISD | Image by Houston Independent School District

A group of lawmakers requested a public hearing last week to discuss reports of “concerning developments” at Houston ISD roughly a year after the state took the troubled district over.

Reps. Christina Morales (D-Houston), Ann Johnson (D-Houston), Jarvis Johnson (D-Houston), Penny Morales Shaw (D-Houston), Mary Ann Perez (D-Houston), Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston), Shawn Thierry (D-Houston), Hubert Vo (D-Houston), and Gene Wu (D-Houston) signed a letter addressed to House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) in which they claimed to have received several complaints about the State Board of Managers running Houston ISD.

There are three primary issues at the heart of the matter, per the letter:

  1. The alleged breach of state law due to internal policies allowing “unaccredited teachers” to run classrooms.
  2. The alleged unsuitability of the New Education System, which has many assessments that have purportedly left students feeling “discouraged” and “berated.”
  3. The alleged absence of accommodations for students with disabilities in violation of federal law.

“As [parents’] duly elected State Representatives, we must hold a hearing to learn more about these concerning reports and efforts to subvert state laws and requirements,” the letter reads.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) appointed the State Board of Managers to temporarily replace Houston ISD’s elected board of trustees after chronic academic underperformance at one of its campuses and allegations of corruption. The takeover has been anything but smooth, with the new Superintendent Mike Miles — selected by the TEA despite his troubled history in the same role at Dallas ISD — and his reforms proving unpopular among some stakeholders, as covered by The Dallas Express.

Dallas ISD actually had more D- and F-rated campuses than Houston ISD in the 2021-2022 school year, per TEA’s accountability reports. Dallas ISD and Houston ISD — the two largest in the state — only managed to see 41% and 43% of students, respectively, score at grade level on that year’s STAAR exam.

While an ongoing lawsuit has blocked more recent accountability data on Dallas ISD from being released, several district campuses figured at the bottom of a statewide ranking by the nonprofit Children at Risk. Among them was South Oak Cliff High School, which was recently featured in The Dallas Express‘ Bad Apple series for lackluster academics. For instance, just 25% of South Oak Cliff students scored at grade level on the 2021-2022 STAAR exam.

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