HOUSTON – Celebrations following the Houston Independent School District’s “B” rating from the Texas Education Agency come on the heels of allegations of misconduct aginst the school board.
Ten days ago, the TEA’s Special Investigations Unit released a report accusing board members of multiple violations including interfering with the duties of school administrators and tampering with contracts. The TEA has threatened to lower the district’s accreditation status and appoint a conservator to oversee operations.
The agency recommended replacing the entire board of trustees with state-appointed managers.
State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, who has been critical of the board, said he believes that a takeover is inevitable.
“The problem is not the teachers or the students. That board has serious problems, and because of that, I have been making that prediction for a long time. Because of academics because of the report that has been released, because of their behavior at board meetings, it is, in my mind, I am fairly certain there will be a board of governors,” Bettencourt said.
Board members had an emergency meeting Thursday morning, but no action was taken.
Board member Rhonda Skillern-Jones told KPRC, “I’m not commenting on the investigation because it is a legal matter.”
Most of the trustees did not respond to KPRC's requests for comment, but others weighed in.
“I can’t tell you what happened in closed session, but I can tell you that I didn't request an extension. I think the evidence is pretty clear about what we are being taken over as it relates to governance,” said trustee Jolanda Jones. “Some people supported what she was doing. Others tried to thwart it, but I am just thankful what was done in the dark is coming to the light.”
Interim Superintendent Dr. Granita Lathan said the district had a message for critics.
“Look at our B rating. Look at that 88% and compare. If you look at HISD compared to similar demographics, you’ll see that HISD is in the right direction,” Lathan said.