Tensions flare as HISD votes on relinquishing 10 underperforming schools

HOUSTON – Parents, community activists and the Houston Federation of Teachers voiced their opposition Tuesday night to Houston Independent School District's plan to hand over 10 low-performing schools to a charter school company.

HISD board members were going to vote on whether the district would give up control of the 10 schools in question.

The meeting started at 6 p.m. at Hattie Mae White Educational Center, but ended without a vote taking place.

The board voted 8-1 in favor of adjourning for the night.

During the meeting, at least two women were dragged out of the room. HISD officials said one officer sustained minor injuries. Officials said Wednesday that both women were released from police custody without being charged.

Under the contract, Energized for Stem Academy would take control of Kashmere High School, Wheatley High School, Worthing High School, Henry Middle School, Woodson Elementary School, Blackshear Elementary School, Dogan Elementary School, Highland Heights Elementary School, Mading Elementary School and Wesley Elementary School.

VIDEO: Woman being dragged out of HISD board meeting

Energized for Stem Academy already operates three charter schools in HISD.

Rita Martinez has concerns about what will happen to the special education program her autistic son attends at Henry Middle School.

"The new charter school has nothing to offer me. Who will make sure that my son's learning needs are being met? Charter schools have zero experience in special education," Martinez said.

The Houston Federation of Teachers said there are too many unanswered questions about the charter school company's business practices and their plan for the 10 schools.

"I really have a question about whether this is about the kids or whether this is about making sure that the money continues to flow," said Zeph Capo, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers.

Channel 2 News reached out to the founder of Energized For Stem, Lois Bullock, but she did not return our calls.

Dr. James Douglas, who sits on the board of Energized for Stem, said the district would not have chosen Energized For Stem if it did not have a proven record of success.

"We don't have those issues that some of the other charter schools have had. This is in the best interest of HISD and best interest of these kids to let us bring HISD and these 10 schools up to the level of where they need to be," Douglas said.

Here is a statement fro HISD:

"Per board policy BED LOCAL, audience members shall not be disruptive or abusive during the board meeting.  While the district appreciates and shares the passion the community has for the students and schools and welcomes public input, audience members are expected to be respectful and observe decorum so that their views may be heard and appreciated.

"During Tuesday night’s workshop, after continuous disruption and multiple outbursts from members of the audience, and after several verbal requests from the Board President to adhere to the rules, attendees were instructed to clear the room and called for a recess. Many refused to leave and a scuffle ensued. An HISD police officer sustained minor injuries."

About the Author: