Special school board meeting Saturday following governor's criticism

HOUSTON – The Houston Independent School District conducted a special meeting Saturday morning, following recent harsh criticism from Gov. Greg Abbott.

The message Abbott posted to Twitter earlier this month read:

“What a joke. HISD leadership is a disaster. Their self-centered ineptitude has failed the children they are supposed to educate. If ever there was a school board that needs to be taken over and reformed it's HISD. Their students & parents deserve change.”

The scathing tweet from was in response to an article written by three HISD parents, who are part of a group called the HISD Advocates.

Sarah Becker, co-author of the article, said that didn’t agree with Abbott's criticism.

“Also in his comment, he stated that the district needs to do what the district needs to do to get the kids on the right path, and  that’s one thing I can say that we do agree on, is that as a board, we do need to come together to make sure that we put kids first,” said Wanda Adams, a board trustee.

The informal meeting between board members, interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan and district staff took place Saturday at HISD headquarters in northwest Houston. The meeting touched on student performance, pre-K programs, low-enrollment schools, charter schools, district funding and the budget. 

The principals of Highland Heights Elementary, Henry Middle, Kashmere High and Wheatley High schools each presented ways they could get students at their underperforming students to excel academically. Board members also talked about some of the challenges those schools faced, such as attendance and poverty.

“We do have a failed accountability system that does not gauge whether our students are really learning,” said trustee Elizabeth Santos. “It is only gauging whether our system is poor or whether the district is rich. This test (STAR Testing) is not indicative of our students' worth or what’s actually happening in the classrooms.”

No votes were made at Saturday’s meeting. Questions from the public were not allowed. 

HISD has dealt with issues surrounding possible sanctions and controversy regarding the interim superintendent position. The district is still actively searching for a permanent superintendent. The first of a series of community meetings regarding the search is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m. It will take place at Peck Elementary School at 5001 MLK Blvd.