HISD drops partnership plan for 10 troubled schools


HOUSTON – Members of the Houston Independent School District board said Wednesday they will no longer pursue partnerships aimed at saving 10 low-performing schools from state takeover.

After a heated meeting Tuesday, where a few people were removed by police, the board dismissed without making a decision on whether to hand over control of the troubled schools to a charter school company called Energized for STEM Academy.

On Wednesday, the board announced that it will no longer submit plans for a partnership with the company to the Texas Education Agency.

The state has placed the following schools on the “improvement required” list for four years or more: Blackshear, Dogan, Highland Heights, Mading, and Wesley elementary schools; Henry Middle School; Woodson PK-8; and Kashmere, Wheatley, and Worthing high schools.

The board said HISD will continue to manage those schools and make the necessary changes to meet state requirements.

"We are not bringing another partnership proposal to the Board, nor will there be another meeting to consider partnerships for the 10 schools,” Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said in a written statement. “Instead, we will continue to reinforce our commitment to helping students, staff, and families of our Achieve 180 schools continue the hard work they’ve done this year to transform their campuses and increase student achievement.” 

Board members said they plan to hold meetings with staff and parents of students at the 10 schools to discuss plans for the next school year. Staff will remain in place at the 10 schools unless the position is part of the job cuts being made across the district, board members said.

State law requires the district to bring those low-performing school up to state standards or risk them being taken over by the state.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a written statement that he stands by HISD and encourages the board, community and TEA to keep the best interests of students in mind when making decisions about the future of these schools.

Turner said he would like to see the board submit a request for a one-year waiver from the state.

The following is Turner's statement: 

“Considering Hurricane Harvey’s impact on our students and campuses eight-months ago, this is not the time to add to the stress of students, parents, teachers and those served by HISD. I am committing myself to playing a leadership role to find and execute the best path forward. By working together, we can develop a viable model with the singular goal of moving any schools from IR to performing.

"HISD should not submit a partnership plan at this time. I would ask the community to recognize the difficult position and challenges the board of trustees faces in balancing its books after recapture, Hurricane Harvey, and the abrupt departure of former Superintendent Carranza. And let's work collaboratively to do what is in the best interest of the student(s) who need all of us.”

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