Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks out against HISD’s plan to transform 28 school libraries

Mayor Sylvester Turner (KPRC)

HOUSTON – The Houston Independent School District’s library closure controversy continues as Mayor Sylvester Turner denounce HISD’s plan during Monday’s news conference alongside faith and city leaders.

The district wants to turn 28 campus libraries into disciplinary centers.

HISD Superintendent Mike Miles has asked the mayor and other critics of the plan to see how it works before making a judgment.

“If that’s a place for kids to learn, if you see it and you see kids in it learning, I think everybody will understand more. So, grace to people who haven’t seen the model (and) who don’t understand the model,” Miles said during a HISD family event this summer.

The plan is to transform New Education System school libraries into team centers, which will be a place to send students with behavioral issues. The remaining 57 libraries in the NES program will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, according to the district.

The librarian positions at the 28 schools were also eliminated, and officials said the librarians can transition to other roles in the district.

Some librarians challenged the plan and said it will only hurt low-income students, who don’t have a lot of access to reading material. Last week, Turner first spoke out against the plan.

“You don’t close libraries in some of the schools in your most underserved communities,” Turner said.

Miles said they are not getting rid of books and encouraged people to trust their process.