Timeline: How the TEA takeover of Houston ISD unfolded

The TEA first moved to take over the district’s school board in 2019 following allegations of misconduct by board members and years of low performance at Phillis Wheatley High School.

HOUSTON – The Texas Education Agency announced in March that it would replace Houston Independent School District’s current superintendent and its school board with a new board of managers as soon as June 1, following a prolonged legal battle.

The TEA first moved to take over the district’s school board in 2019 following allegations of misconduct by board members and the repeated low academic performance of Wheatley High School.

Scroll below to see how the TEA takeover of Houston ISD was years in the making.

MORE: What happens when Texas takes over a school district like Houston ISD

Oct. 30, 2019

The Texas Education Agency recommended that the state take over Houston ISD due to its elected school board’s “demonstrated inability to appropriately govern, inability to operate within the scope of their authority by circumventing the authority of the superintendent, and inability to ensure proper contract procurement laws are followed,” according to a 318-page final investigative report.

TEA’s Special Investigations Unit director Jason Hewitt found that school board members violated the requirements of the Texas Open Meetings Act by coordinating an unposted meeting of a quorum of HISD Board of Trustees to conduct important district business, failed to follow contract procurement rules and procedures, failed to ensure staff followed these rules and procedures when awarding contracts for goods and services, and acted individually on behalf of the board, exceeding the scope of their authority.

The report recounts many of the allegations laid out in a preliminary report from the agency that was issued in August.

The report recommended Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath appoint a board of managers to oversee the school district.

Oct. 31, 2019

Houston ISD sued the state to prevent a takeover. The school district filed a motion requesting a federal judge issue a preliminary injunction to stop the TEA from replacing its elected board or taking any other action based on the state investigation.

Nov. 6, 2019

Texas state officials announced their intention to take over Houston ISD and remove power from the elected school board members to “prevent imminent and substantial harm to the welfare of the district’s students,” the Texas Tribune reported.

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath sent a letter to Houston ISD interim superintendent Grenita Lathan and board president Diana Davila citing his reasons for the decision: The school board’s “failure of governance” and the low academic performance of Wheatley High School, which received its seventh failing rating that year, according to the Texas Tribune.

“The long-standing failure of the board of trustees to provide better educational opportunities to the students of this campus, compel me to appoint a board of managers,” Morath wrote.

Morath said he would appoint a superintendent, as well as a board of governance to replace the elected school board.

“Given the inability of the board of trustees to govern the district, these sanctions are necessary to protect the best interests of the district’s current and future students,” he wrote.

Jan. 8, 2020

A state judge blocked Texas from taking over Houston ISD, the Texas Tribune reported. The TEA called injunction a temporary setback and vowed in a statement to appeal the ruling.

“Any time you are taking on a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, the road to meaningful change is long and arduous, but when the futures of our children are at stake, we will stop at nothing to make sure they are properly provided for,” the agency’s statement said.

Dec. 30, 2020

The Texas Third Court of Appeals upheld the temporary injunction preventing the TEA from replacing Houston ISD’s school board, the Texas Tribune reported. The TEA said it planned to appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court.

Jan. 13, 2023

The Texas Supreme Court cleared the way for the state to take control of the Houston ISD, throwing out the injunction that temporarily halted the TEA’s plan to take over the district’s school board, the Texas Tribune reported.

March 1, 2023

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he was told that the Texas Education Agency planned to take over Houston ISD.

March 15, 2023

The TEA confirmed it would remove Houston ISD’s elected school board and superintendent.

The agency said Superintendent Millard House II and the current school board will finish out the school year before being replaced by a board of managers on or about June 1.

“The goal here is to let what is great about Houston continue to be great, but where there are places where students have for far too long gone without the sort of structure of support that they need,” Morath told KPRC 2. “The system of Houston ISD seems to allow campuses to go many, many years without seeing performance.”

June 1, 2023

The Texas Education Agency on Thursday named former Dallas Independent School District superintendent Mike Miles as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, initiating the state’s takeover of Texas’ largest school district.

Miles begins working Thursday under a temporary 21-day contract until a board of managers, also newly-appointed by Education Commissioner Mike Morath, formally approves him.

“We were looking for people from a wide array of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives who believe all children can learn and achieve at high levels when properly supported and who can work together,” Morath said in a news release. “I believe the governing team I am naming today will work as a unified team, dedicated to improving student outcomes and supporting educators.”

Houston, what questions do you have about the TEA takeover?

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About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.