Parents frustrated after Katy ISD delays start of summer school

Parents and students of the Katy Independent School District said they were met with confusion Monday on what was supposed to be the start of summer classes.

CINCO RANCH – Parents and students of the Katy Independent School District said they were met with confusion Monday on what was supposed to be the start of summer classes.

Pictures shared on social media show dozens of students standing outside of Cinco Ranch High School or waiting in the school’s cafeteria after being turned away on day one of instruction.

“I don’t know where to begin. It’s a mess,” said Michole Avila.

Avila’s 16-year-old son received confirmation to begin a 30-hour state-mandated accelerated tutoring session on Monday in order to retake a failed STAAR Test, according to emails Avila shared with KPRC 2.

Avila said her son had to finish the course this week because next week he was scheduled to begin credit recovery for a failed course.

“I’m not sure how that’s going to play out since he was sent home today and we received emails late this afternoon not to send our students back until they figured it out,” she said.

Instead of being assigned a classroom, Avila said her son was told he was not on a list of students slated to begin summer school Monday, and he was far from alone.

“From my understanding, there were hundreds of kids just walking around and waiting for rides outside of Cinco Ranch High School,” Avila said.

Messages posted to a parent-run Katy ISD community Facebook page echoed Avila’s experience. Several parents were frustrated after they said their child sat unattended for hours without guidance from staff who seemed overwhelmed by the influx.

Many of those parents said they tried to reach Katy ISD for answers on what to do, but didn’t receive any correspondence until Monday afternoon.

Avila shared the email district officials sent to parents, which acknowledged “a busy day at Cinco Ranch High School,” as it welcomed “6th through 11th-grade students eligible to attend 30 hours House Bill 4545 accelerated learning.”

The email goes on to apologize for “any confusion that may have occurred due to an inadvertent email that directed all students to report to CRHS [Monday] regardless of their scheduled week of instruction.”

The correspondence goes on to instruct parents of students who didn’t get to attend class Monday to email the district with their name, ID, and home campus. However, the letter does not say when those students will be able to begin instruction.

Students unassigned a classroom for instruction was one concern among several. Many parents said Katy ISD did not provide enough school buses to transport students to Cinco Ranch High School, leaving many forced to find a way to school. Avila said her son drove himself when he was told there wasn’t enough room for him on the bus.

Moreover, once students arrived, parents said they were met with a traffic nightmare as hundreds waited to drop off their children.

Daneen Rivera, whose daughter just completed eighth grade, was scheduled to begin accelerated tutoring to retake a STAAR exam Monday.

“The line was horrifically long. We waited in line for another 45 minutes,” Rivera said, describing the caravan of vehicles waiting to get onto campus. After they arrived, Rivera said there wasn’t any direction as to where to go.

“They were just letting kids and parents into the lobby of Cinco Ranch High School. No IDs were being checked,” Rivera said, expressing concern over the apparent security challenges.

Rivera’s daughter eventually found her class and was able to begin instruction. However, the same cannot be said for many students, an exact number of them remained unclear on Monday.

All around, a school overwhelmed with pressed parents whose concerns deepened when sharing accounts from their children of fights breaking out in the school’s crowded cafeteria.

“While she was at lunch, there were two fights that broke out, one of which required them to take students out in handcuffs,” Rivera said.

KPRC 2 contacted Katy ISD for comment about the parents’ allegations, as well as pictures and videos circulating on social media. While a spokesperson did respond, they said the district would not be addressing allegations from Monday.

The district sent KPRC 2′s Brittany Jefferd the following statement:

“The District is offering a number of summer school programs this year. As part of the new HB 4545, for instance, districts are required to provide accelerated instruction for eligible students who did not pass the spring STAAR. Katy ISD will also offer Credit Recovery for eligible students beginning June 13. A message requesting all summer program students to report to courses at Cinco Ranch High School on June 6 was distributed in error last week. Summer school staff have since been in direct contact with parents to resolve the confusion. As a result, buses and the campus saw relief this morning, while all programs remain on schedule. The District looks forward to serving our students this summer and asks parents to contact campus programs directly with any questions or concerns.”

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Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. NOLA born and bred, though #HoustonStrong, with stops in Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in along the way.