Houston coalition files DOJ complaint due to TEA takeover

Hundreds of parents, community members show up at TEA meeting about HISD takeover

HOUSTON – The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, the ACLU, the Houston NAACP, LULAC #19, and the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice filed a complaint with the Department of Justice demanding an investigation into the Texas Education Agency’s takeover of Houston Independent School District.

“We are asking the Department of Justice to take immediate action and investigate the state’s relentless attempts to take over the largest school district in Texas,” said Ashley Harris, attorney at the ACLU of Texas in a press release. “The state takeover is not about public education but about political control of an almost entirely Black and brown student body in one of the country’s most diverse cities. This hostile takeover strips power from Houston voters of color by replacing the democratically elected school district trustees with a board of managers handpicked by the commissioner. Our public officials should be accountable to the growing racially diverse communities they represent and serve.”

In a letter to the DOJ, the group writes that their effort is on behalf of HISD parents and voters Kenyette Johnson, Anna Chuter, Kourtney Revels, and Audrey Nath.

“We’re hoping that the federal government in Washington will help local Houston voters who are voters of color and our parents and students in HISD who are having their rights taken away and need help,” said Ashley Harris, attorney for the ACLU of Texas.

Former TEA Commissioner Michael Williams believes moves like this and others won’t stop the agency.

“They can’t do nothing about this,” Williams said. “This is going to happen so what everybody ought to do is [ask], ‘How do we make this work.’ Because all of that other stuff is just drama.”

“The TEA’s actions raise serious concerns that it is intentionally discriminating against Houston voters of color and denying or abridging their existing right to vote for HISD trustees,” the complaint letter reads.

The Department of Justice’s website states once a complaint is filed, it then will be reviewed by “teams that specialize in handling [the] type of issue.”

The federal department will determine the next steps, “possible outcomes include following up for more information, starting a mediation or investigation, directing you to another organization for further help, or informing you that we cannot help.”

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