HOUSTON – The Houston Federation of Teachers filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Houston Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles and the school board for implementing a new teacher evaluation system.
This system decides the employment situation of teachers and their pay, HFT said in a news release.
The lawsuit is asking for a temporary injunction and was filed in a Harris County district court. According to the lawsuit, HISD allegedly violated the Texas Education Code requirements because they did not ask for teachers’ and other staff members’ opinions as they developed the new teacher evaluation system.
“Injunction relief is necessary in this matter because if not granted, teachers will be appraised this current school year and have those appraisals used by HISD to make high-stakes employment decisions under an illegally developed appraisal system,” the suit states.
HFT President Jackie Anderson said the group is not taking this lightly.
“Superintendent Miles has grossly and illegally expanded both his power and that of the appointed school board. He is refusing to follow the law by shutting out the voices of teachers, parents, students and other community members and punishing educators in the name of streamlining the district,” Anderson said. “This is autocratic, not democratic or even legal. We will not stand by and allow him to run roughshod over this district and destroy all the progress this community has made without a fight.”
The new system is called Policy DNA and is expected to replace the T-TESS system. The Texas Education Code states district and campus committees should share their input about these kinds of changes, but HFT said this did not happen.
The code also requires that the appraisal systems inform teachers of how their performance will be measured, and this is created using factors that can be observed. This includes how teachers manage discipline or student performance.
“The hollowed-out version of DNA approved by the board of managers does not contain any performance criteria, and it is unknown what the criteria will be for evaluating a teacher’s performance,” the suit states.
Anderson said teachers would have asked for an itemization on how they will be evaluated, but they were not able to do this.
“Now, it’ll be based on who knows what and can be purely subjective. This is just not right or fair,” she said.
“At every step of the way, Mike Miles has sought to silence dissent and silence the voices of educators. His attempt to dilute our consultation agreement with the district is another example. I have news for this administration: You may not want to meet us at the bargaining table, but you will see us in court,” Anderson said.