What does a TEA takeover mean? A complete breakdown of what’s happening to the largest school district in Texas

HOUSTON – The Texas Education Agency announced Wednesday that it is moving forward with a takeover of Houston’s nearly 200,000-student public school district, the eighth-largest in the country.

The announcement, which was made by TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, amounts to one of the largest school takeovers ever in the U.S. and comes after years of threats.

But many pose the question, what is a TEA takeover and what does this mean for HISD? Here’s a complete breakdown of what’s happening now and what will happen next.


The Texas Education Agency is the state agency that oversees primary and secondary public education in the state of Texas. It helps deliver education to more than five million students.

The head of the TEA is the Commissioner of Education, who is supported by a hierarchy of a chief deputy commissioner, a deputy commissioner, associate commissioners, division directors, and agency staff.

Located in Austin, the TEA carries out the following functions:

  • Administers the distribution of state and federal funding to public schools
  • Administers the statewide assessment program and accountability system
  • Provides support to the State Board of Education (SBOE) in the development of the statewide curriculum
  • Assists the SBOE in the instructional materials adoption process and managing the instructional materials distribution process
  • Administers a data collection system on public school information
  • Performs the administrative functions and services of the State Board for Educator Certification
  • Supports agency operations, including carrying out duties related to the Permanent School Fund
  • Monitors for compliance with certain federal and state guidelines.


A TEA takeover is generally viewed as the last resort for underperforming schools.

In 2019, Texas started moving to take over HISD following allegations of misconduct by school trustees, including inappropriate influencing of vendor contracts, and chronically low academic scores at Wheatley High.

The district sued to stop the intervention, and after years of court action, in January, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a mandate and reversed a lower court’s ruling that blocked the takeover and gave the TEA the green light to move forward under the authority currently offered by state law.

Also, under current state law, the TEA commissioner, who is appointed by the governor, has to take action when a campus has five consecutive years of unacceptable ratings. The law allows only two remedies: closing a campus or appointing a board of managers.


As part of the takeover, the state agency will begin the search for a new HISD superintendent.

The TEA also launched a website where individuals interested in being appointed to the board of managers can begin the application process.

Applicants will be required to go through a community reference check, in which Houston-area state legislators will be able to provide feedback. They’ll also have to pass a background check, according to a TEA presentation. A rigorous interview process is also expected.

The appointments are expected on or about June 1.


About the Authors:

Bryce Newberry joined KPRC 2 in July 2022. He loves the thrill of breaking news and digging deep on a story that gets people talking.