North Forest ISD to fight state-ordered closure

July 13, 2011 3:30:23 PM PDT
The state has ordered North Forest ISD to shut down by next summer. There are still a lot of unknowns at this point, including what will happen to North Forest's 7,500 students and whether the district's schools will be closed and/or sold. While many in this community aren't necessarily happy with how this situation is playing out, they believe the school district's long track record of problems will be hard to defend.

After years of poor test scores, high dropout rates and financial mismanagement, the Texas Education Agency says North Forest ISD has done an awful job of educating its students and believes it's time to close the district and give the 7,500 kids who go to school there a fresh start.

Parent Vanessa Kegler said, "You got to have teachers who want to teach the children and not just go in there for a paycheck."

Kegler says she moved out of North Forest because the schools were so bad, but she worries that shutting down the entire district will strip the community of its identity.

"They want to close out all the blacks. I feel like this society is not worried about our children anymore," Kegler said.

As details of next year's potential merger with Houston ISD get ironed out, the cry to keep the district intact is growing louder. Houston City Councilman Jarvis Johnson and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee acknowledge the district's troubles, but they believe North Forest is worth saving. Lee has organized an emergency community meeting.

She said, "I just think in spite of the many, many citations year after year that is alleged in the letter that I'm still reviewing, that there may be some questions of district treatment and attitudes that I think are inappropriate in the state of Texas."

North Forest is in the process of appealing the state's decision, but does it have a leg to stand on?

Parent Timandra Gauthier isn't sure how fighting this is going to benefit the kids, who according to the state haven't been getting a quality education for years.

"It's kind of sad in a way, but I mean, whatever helps the kids. If they're not learning in the schools there is no use for them to be there," Gauthier said. "They need to be placed somewhere else where they can learn."


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