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Houston ISD’s TEA Acquisition Explained

By next school year, the Houston Independent School District will have a new leader, but little is known yet about exactly what this means for the district’s students, staff and parents.

State Board of Education Mike Morath said Wednesday he would appoint a board of trustees to temporarily replace the locally elected Houston ISD board of trustees. This is the result of years of scrutiny of the school district by the Texas Department of Education due to repeated poor student performance at Phyllis Wheatley High School and allegations of misconduct by previous trustees.

The Board of Trustees is responsible for school board duties such as approving school budgets and tax rates, setting district policies in areas such as school safety and instruction, as permitted by state and federal law .

The school board also typically hires a superintendent to oversee the day-to-day operations of the school district. In a letter to Houston School District officials, Morath said he would also appoint a superintendent.

The current members of the Houston School Board and the Millard House II Superintendent will remain in power until Moras makes appointments, which are scheduled after June 1st.

While this isn’t the first time a state educational institution has taken over a school district, it will be the largest school district the institution has taken over since 2000.

When will the acquisition take place?

The TEA oversees approximately 1,200 school districts and assesses academic performance primarily based on the Texas Academic Readiness Assessment known as the STAAR test. Under state law, state boards of education can intervene with school district leaders if the district is performing poorly.

For example, a commissioner can appoint a guardian to oversee a school district or campus, while the district school board and superintendent can remain in place.

The commissioner may also suspend elected leaders of a school district and replace them with a board of trustees if the school district does not meet certification, academic performance, or financial standards.

For example, the TEA appointed a board of administrators at the El Paso ISD in 2012 after a cheating scandal. He also appointed management of Beaumont ISD in 2014 due to financial mismanagement.

A 2015 state law requires a commissioner to appoint a board of trustees or close a campus if a school district has a poorly performing campus for five consecutive semesters. Phillis Wheatley High School failed him from 2010 to 2019, but Wheatley and the school district have improved since then.

Houston Democratic Rep. Harold Dutton, a Wheatley alumnus and co-author of the law, argued that there should be consequences when a school district fails a student over and over again. defended

The commissioner may also appoint a board of trustees for the school district under guardianship for two years. Since 2016, the Houston ISD has a conservator overseeing district-level support for one of his underperforming schools, Cashmere High School.

The TEA cited these statutes and consistent underperformance at two Houston high schools as reasons for appointing a board of trustees.

When TEA first attempted to acquire Houston ISD in 2019, the district sued to stop the agency, but the Texas Supreme Court upheld TEA in January of this year.

How does takeover work?

When the TEA takes over, the powers of the school board will be suspended and given to a state-appointed board of administrators. In job descriptions posted online in connection with the Houston ISD, the TEA said essential duties for the nine administrators who will replace the school board include: included using data and information from stakeholders.

Current school board members continue to serve as advisors, like other community members, but must be re-elected to continue on the board. Once the commissioner decides to terminate the appointment of the trustees, the recently elected school board members will gradually govern the school district.

How long will the acquisition last?

According to state law, a TEA commissioner can decide to remove a manager if a failing campus receives a passing grade two years in a row.

If the campus is still unsuccessful, the commissioner can extend the placement or consult with the community to decide whether to put in place a new board of trustees, state law says. Once a campus or district is determined to meet standards, the Commissioner can announce a transition schedule. During that transition, the trustee is expected to return to power in stages, according to his TEA’s slideshow timeline of his ISD acquisition in Houston.

According to TEA spokesperson Jake Kobelsky, on average, management is in place for two to six years.

Who can be on the board of administrators?

State law stipulates that a majority of the governing board must be residents of the school district.

The TEA’s job description stated that the appointed administrator must be a qualified voter within the district boundaries. The board should also include several members from across the district, district parents, people with leadership experience, and backgrounds in areas such as social work, psychology, business, finance, and law. I also outlined that there is

The TEA is accepting applications for the Houston ISD manager until April 6, according to its website.

What does the acquisition mean for Houston School District?

What exactly this means for Houston ISD students, parents and staff remains unclear. be entrusted to a commission.

The TEA is not involved in the day-to-day affairs of the district, but the Commissioner can replace managers in the event of resignation, misconduct, or other problems.

TEA announced four informational sessions in March regarding the Houston ISD member acquisition process. Details can be found here.

Since 2000, the TEA has replaced school district boards and superintendents with boards of administrators seven times. It still manages the Marlin ISD outside Waco and the Shepard ISD east of Conroe. The TEA has returned her five other district superintendents to local control. Authorities have also annexed four districts into neighboring districts due to chronically low accountability ratings and financial difficulties.

Why is the acquisition controversial?

Critics of the TEA move worry about potential layoffs and turnovers, given the US has a history of dramatic changes during the takeover of several states.

State takeover of school districts often means the placement of new administrative and school leaders, says Van Scholes, senior policy director at the Keystone Policy Center, a nonpartisan research nonprofit. says Mr.

Several acquisitions in Texas have also led to significant staffing changes. According to the Houston Chronicle, when the North Forest ISD was merged into the Houston ISD after his 2008 takeover, only 25 of the roughly 350 teachers were hired by the Houston ISD.

Schoales said teachers are currently unlikely to be affected by personnel changes because there is a shortage of teachers.

Critics also say the takeover strips communities of power through elected leaders, and uncertainty and turmoil can undermine community and staff morale.

“One of the main concerns is that this is not representative of the community,” said Chloe Sykes, associate director for policy at the Association for Intercultural Development Studies. “So what is the actual community accountability mechanism?”

According to Schoales, takeover interventions often don’t work without buy-in from the community.

“You need people who really understand what is needed on the ground and that connection to the community, not just governance changes,” he said.

In its job listing, TEA mentions actively creating opportunities to “genuinely engage with community members” as part of its job. The board is also required to hold public meetings under the Texas Public Meetings Act.

What is the track record of successful acquisitions?

Overall, the success of the acquisition in the US has been “mixed,” Scholes said. Some studies, such as New Orleans and Lawrence, Massachusetts, show that students do better after taking over school districts.

However, other case studies across the country have shown no improvement under state-appointed commissions, and inadequate management in some cases under state control.

In Texas, the TEA has established administrative boards in seven school districts since 2000, including the El Paso and Beaumont ISDs and other smaller school districts.

All school districts, except Beaumont ISD, improved their academic performance on state standardized tests, according to data presented by the TEA before and after their appointment to the Trustees. However, it’s unclear how these academic performances compare to other school districts in the state.

And acquiring a school district the size of Houston (nearly 200,000 students) is a big undertaking, Scholes said.

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http://www.spectrumlocalnews.com/tx/austin/partner-content/2023/03/17/tea-takeover-of-houston-isd-explained Houston ISD’s TEA Acquisition Explained

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