Houston Newsmakers Feb. 25: District problems, human trafficking and maternal mortality rate

HOUSTON – “I don’t ever remember it being so challenging,” Diana Davila, the HISD trustee representing District VIII said as she lamented the financial challenges facing the district.

She and Rhonda Skillern-Jones, HISD board president, are guests this week on Houston Newsmakers with Khambrel Marshall. She said the district’s budget problems stem primarily from having to send a check for $206 million to the State of Texas.

“How do we offer those additional resources if, yet again, we don’t have the additional funding to do it?” Davila said. “We are partnering up with as many nonprofit organizations that are out there in the City of Houston to be able to come and help us, but they’re also limited in the capacity because we have so many children with so many different needs.”

In the wake of the Florida school shooting that killed 17, safety was also addressed.

“We’ve suggested active shooter drills for the children, just like we have fire drills," Skillern-Jones said, “and to make sure that we shore up our faculty and staff on the practices that they need to be able to insure that they keep our kids safe.”

See much more of the discussion on this weeks’ Houston Newsmakers Extra.


Emily Freeborn

Human trafficking continues to be a major problem for the Houston region.

Emily Freeborn is a staff attorney for Children at Risk and says the main problem can be traced to one factor.

"We have such a huge demand here in Houston and you see that in the number of strip clubs that we have ... and the number of illegal massage parlors offering sexual services," she said. "There are close to 300 establishments throughout the city.”

Freeborn talks about the efforts of the “Center to End the Trafficking and Exploitation of Children” and the partnerships and progress being made in raising awareness.


Abbie Kamin and Kimberly Baker

The maternal mortality rate for African-American women in Texas is three times that of white women.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Women’s Initiative for a Conversation is sponsoring a breakfast to
discuss why that is, and what can be done about it.

“What research is telling us is that changes in Medicaid and access to health care have made a substantial impact on women accessing care, and that’s prior to pregnancy and after pregnancy,” said Kimberly Baker, Ph.D., a research faculty associate at UT Health Science Center.  

The breakfast conversation is called “In Pursuit of Health Care Equality, the Health Care Crisis for Women in Texas," at the Doubletree Houston Greenway Plaza Hotel from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. on March 9. 

For information, go to www.Houston.ADL.org


  • Rhonda Skillern-Jones, HISD Board President, Trustee District II,  713-556-6121,  www.houstonisd.org/board | Twitter:@HoustonISD 
  • Diana Davila, HISD Trustee District VIII, 713-556-6121  www.houstonisd.org/board | Twitter: @HoustonISD  
  • Emily Freeborn, Staff Attorney, Children at Risk, (713)869-7740,  www.childrenatrisk.org    Twitter: @childrenatrisk | email: Info@childrenatrisk.org  
  • Abbie Kamin, Associate Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League,  713-627-3490, www.houston.ADL.org  http://bit.ly/2CeDAqw  832-975-8304 | Twitter: @ADL_National
  • Kimberly Baker, Ph.D., UT Health Science Center, 713-500-9050, utprc@uth.tmc.edu | Twitter: @UTexasSPH 

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