ONLY ON 2: Former T.E.A commissioner answers questions parents aren’t getting at community meetings

HOUSTON – The Texas Education Agency hosted its final informational as it prepares to take over Houston Independent School District. Many people tell KPRC 2 they still have plenty of questions.

A viewer sent in a question:

What are the goals? Will there be specific, defined goals created that will define the end of T.E.A. control?

The agency released its exit criteria that includes the following:

  1. HISD will not have any multi-year failing campuses.
  2. The special education program will operate in compliance with legal requirements.
  3. And board procedures and conduct must be focused on student outcomes.

The agency says they will have two years to start initiating the return to HISD control. But it won’t happen overnight. Once the board of managers meets its goals, a third of the managers will be replaced with elected trustees. This will continue until it is fully back in local control.

We’re getting questions on who will make the board of managers. The agency says the managers will have to be people who live within the district.

RELATED: Still confused about the TEA takeover of Houston ISD? We’re asking your questions to get the answers.

The previous T.E.A. Commissioner Michael Williams tells KPRC 2 he expects Commissioner Mike Morath to select between seven or nine members.

“He’s going to try to find the nine best people he can who are Houstonians to run that district, and then he’s going to walk away,” Williams said. “He will give them a charge, at the beginning, [and] tell them what he wants from them, tell them what he wants them to do.”

Williams led multiple school takeovers. He oversaw several boards of managers for different districts. He says the managers don’t necessarily have to be educators.

“They don’t teach. Teachers teach. Board of Managers, manage,” Williams said. “Remember, I’m not an educator. But I was commissioner. So, you don’t need teachers on the board of managers. You do need people who understand and appreciate instructor and learning but they don’t have to be teachers.”

Williams’ background is in law.

During the third informational meeting, a teacher posed a question to T.E.A leaders about the selection of the superintendent, and why it isn’t an open nationwide search.

The Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Alejandro Delgado, said Morath is looking nationwide.

“He is going to announce the superintendent [at] the same time as the board of managers,” Delgado said at the third community meeting.

Williams said the T.E.A. doesn’t have to be open and public with the process of hiring a superintendent because the law doesn’t require it.

“It is private,” Williams said. “But that’s what the law creates.”

“The law just sets the responsibility for this decision solely in the hands of the T.E.A. and commissioner. It doesn’t make this a public conversation. This decision is directed solely to the province of the commissioner. Now, if he wants to do a nationwide search, he’ll do a nationwide search. But he doesn’t have to.”

“I would like more information on the hiring process for educators with the new takeover. Also, how are you incentivizing those educators who stay on board?” – Alexis Batey asked KPRC 2.

Williams said teachers shouldn’t panic. He points to El Paso and Beaumont School Districts where teachers weren’t fired, but instead, left on their own volition.

“Teachers should not, ought not, worry about losing their job,” Williams said. “Now there may be some underperforming teachers that are at risk. The way they may instruct might change because the new superintendent may come in with a new instruction model.”

A timeline for when the Texas Education Agency could relinquish control to local leaders. (Texas Education Agency)

The board of managers and the state-appointed superintendent are required to be in the district for at least two years. Throughout this period, the commissioner will get quarterly updates from the managers and the superintendent. The commissioner then will decide whether to extend control by two years or begin transitioning from state control to locals.

“And then that commissioner will announce a date,” Williams said. “And at which time, he or she will remove the Board of Managers. Remove the state-installed superintendent, and allow the elected board of trustees [will be reinstalled].”

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