Before a standing-room-only crowd, board members voted 6-3 to keep Jones High School in southeast Houston open, and voted 5-4 to close Dodson Elementary, which is located south of downtown.
Trustees decided to repurpose Jones into a futures academy for career training and won't have a sports program. Jones students who don't make it into the new program will be rezoned to Worthing High School and Sterling High School.
Dodson Elementary School has a different fate. The campus will totally close and its students will be moved to Blackshear or Lantrip elementary schools, or The Rusk School. The campus' Montessori program also will move to Blackshear Elementary.
"We were forced to go to Dodson because they had already closed their schools down, so we're running out of options really," parent Travis McGee said.
Both schools risked closure in May. They were part of the district's initial plan to close five campuses across the city. Three schools, Nathaniel Q Henderson Elementary, Port Houston Elementary and Fleming Middle School, were taken off the consideration list last week following several town hall meetings.
"When you move them all you do is close down a low-performing school and merge it with another school, that doesn't change the fate and the challenges of the students. That is not successful education," community activist Assata Richard said.
The Thursday night meeting was so emotionally charged that trustees had to call a recess after a parent threatened them, and others began chanting, calling for the firing of HISD Superintendent Terry Grier. Expletives and racially charged comments were screamed across the room, and local leaders who stepped in to calm the situation were unsuccessful.
"School closure discussions are never easy," Grier said in a prepared statement. "However, we must continue to have constructive conversations on the issue of school size and school efficiency. Not to do so could be harmful to our communities and the students that reside in them. The goal remains creating better, stronger schools."
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