From TeachtheVote.org: State formally announces its takeover of Houston ISD effective June 1, 2023
Date Posted: 3/15/2023
After weeks of speculation, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) confirmed today its plan to take over the management of Houston ISD. The move enables Commissioner of Education Mike Morath to appoint a board of managers to replace the current elected HISD board of trustees, as well as a new superintendent. None of the changes will take place until June 1, however.
ATPE has communicated with its members in HISD that the announcement causes no immediate change to their employment status. Educator contracts remain in force, along with existing protections, rights, and benefits under the law. The district and TEA must still follow legal procedures and due process requirements in the law for any changes planned for the next school year.
The TEA takeover follows a lengthy court battle and years of debate among legislators about accountability sanctions for HISD. ATPE and many other educator associations have long opposed laws and policies that take away the authority of those who are elected by and accountable to local voters.
The Texas Tribune reported Tuesday night that TEA had posted a job description and related information on its website for the new board of managers. The postings were promptly removed once the news broke, and TEA declined media requests for comment. Wednesday morning, Morath met with Houston-area lawmakers and sent a letter to HISD’s superintendent and board explaining the impetus for the takeover decision. Morath provided the rationale that the district has had a conservator assigned to it for more than two consecutive years, and that HISD’s Wheatley High School has had unacceptable ratings for five consecutive years, thereby requiring him to close the campus or appoint the board of managers. Opponents of the takeover have pointed out that the single campus, out of more than 270, to which the entire district’s accountability sanctions are attributed has shown recent improvement.
In the same letter, Morath wrote, “I am announcing today an open call for Houstonians who are interested and willing to serve on the Board of Managers. The appointed Board of Managers will consist of members of the Houston ISD community who are committed to serving on behalf of the students of the district and the community.” The commissioner added that he hoped the elected HISD board “will choose to continue to be engaged by members of the Board of Managers in an advisory capacity.”