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TEA takeover means Wheatley High School will stay open

HOUSTON – The fallout continues from the impending state takeover of the Houston Independent School District, including the impact it will have on a school at the center of the state’s decision to take control.

Elaine Jackson Willis is working hard to keep Wheatley High School open.

“I came, in fact, last week to collect petitions from parents to keep the school open,” said Willis, who is part of the school’s alumni group.

The alumni have been campaigning for public support to keep their former high school from being closed due to failing academic scores. Wheatley has been on a list of possible school closures for years. The takeover means the school will stay open.

“I’m excited about that,” Willis said.

What lawmakers are saying

Not everyone wants the state to take control of the largest school district in Texas.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia said the decision would take power away from Houston taxpayers.

The Texas Education Agency said both the superintendent and the board of HISD will be replaced. Officials cited not only troubled schools like Wheatley for the takeover, but also Open Meetings Act violations and allegations of corruption.

“Look, it doesn’t get any worse than five members of a board meeting at a Mexican restaurant to decide who the next interim superintendent is and firing them three days later with all nine at a press conference,” said state Sen. Paul Bettencourt.

Bettencourt, who wanted a takeover, said criminal charges could result from TEA’s investigation.

“They’re done with their report, so now it’s up to local law enforcement,” Bettencourt said.