Will the state take over HISD? TEA will announce its decision today: 'The decision has been made'

Wednesday, March 15, 2023
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- ABC13 has confirmed the Texas Education Agency will put rumors to rest on Wednesday. Commissioner Mike Morath will announce what the agency plans to do with the Houston Independent School District, as the possibility of an impending state takeover has been looming for weeks.

Houston-area legislators will meet personally with the TEA commissioner in Austin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. He will let them know the state's plans for the district before a public announcement impacting 187,000 students and their families.

SEE ALSO: Houston ISD teachers and staff head to Austin to advocate for schools

Three weeks ago, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said a takeover of the state's largest school district was imminent.

The Texas Tribune reported that a job posting seeking candidates to apply for a new board of managers to oversee HISD and a slideshow explaining the responsibilities of the body could be found on the TEA's website before they were taken down Tuesday night.

TEA will make decision on possible HISD takeover on Wednesday

Speaking of a complete takeover, Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, said, "I believe the decision has been made, and they are determined to do this."

He joined several state officials, Houston-area leaders, and community members who have openly opposed a state takeover of HISD. Despite improvement, past failures at Wheatley High School and at the board level paved the way for the TEA to consider removing the board of trustees, replacing Superintendent Millard House II, and closing Wheatley down. The commissioner could announce action on none, or any combination of those options.

"I don't believe it's going to be positive and I want the public to be prepared for the worst. That's what we anticipate we will be receiving tomorrow," Reynolds said. "I'm prepared for taking over the board, taking over local control with a board of managers that will have no accountability to the public, that will only report to the TEA Commissioner."

Rep. Reynolds says he believes the decision will boil down to politics.

"I believe that they want to charterize many of these schools in HISD," Reynolds said. "And there is a great push toward vouchers and other things that gut public schools. So, this is the ugly side of politics that I despise."

SEE ALSO: Looming HISD state takeover raises concerns about impact on communities of color

Current trustee Kendall Baker said he isn't convinced that the state intervention would be a bad thing.

"Let's look at the positive side of it," Baker said. "Wait and see what happens. What has occurred in the past has got us in a little trouble. Now, the commissioner has the green light to come in and check. He has my full support in whatever happens."

Baker and the other trustees would lose their decision-making power in HISD if Commissioner Morath appoints a new board of managers that would be accountable to him, instead of local voters.

"The hope is that if it happens, they'll take over, rectify what they want, and then give it back. And they'll give it back to the sitting trustees," Baker said.

State law doesn't set a timeline for how long a takeover could last. That only adds to the uncertainty Reynolds called unsettling for the state's largest and most diverse school district.

"Continue to stay engaged. Continue to pour everything into those students, because they're going to need it," Reynolds said in a message for people invested in public education.
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