HISD backs off charter plan for underperforming schools

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- One day after Tuesday night's Houston ISD board of trustees meeting erupted in anger, the board decided not to pursue a proposal that would have turned control of 10 "improvement required" campuses over to a charter academy.

On Wednesday, HISD said in a statement that it will also not submit plans for partnerships to the Texas Education Agency.

According to the district, the proposal was intended to give HISD a two-year pause on accountability from TEA and prevent sanctions from the state.

The board of trustees Tuesday night planned to vote on the proposal to hand over control of 10 schools to a charter partner, Energized for STEM Academy.

The 10 schools are: Blackshear Elementary School, Dogan Elementary School, Highland Heights Elementary School, Mading Elementary School, Wesley Elementary School, Henry Middle School, Woodson PK-8, Kashmere High School, Wheatley High School, and Worthing High School.

However, angry and frustrated parents yelled at trustees about the underperforming schools, causing the board to shut down the meeting without a decision.

"We are not bringing another partnership proposal to the Board, nor will there be another meeting to consider partnerships for the 10 schools," said interim superintendent, Grenita Lathan, in a statement Wednesday. "Instead, we will continue to reinforce our commitment to helping students, staff, and families of our Achieve 180 schools continue the hard work they've done this year to transform their campuses and increase student achievement."

Further, HISD said it is making changes to the Achieve 180 turnaround program and will be holding meetings at the 10 schools, without any changes in staff, barring budgetary position closures.

After HISD's decision, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner encouraged the school district to request a one-year waiver from TEA to give them time to focus on improving the 10 schools:

"Considering Hurricane Harvey's impact on our students and campuses eight-months ago, this is not the time to add to the stress of students, parents, teachers and those served by HISD. I am committing myself to playing a leadership role to find and execute the best path forward. By working together, we can develop a viable model with the singular goal of moving any schools from IR to performing."

During Tuesday night's meeting, anger among parents and staff reached a peak. At one point, a parent, Jenny Espeseth, refused to leave the meeting. She was dragged out by officers.

"I wasn't moving. I didn't want to leave because it's such an important vote. The HISD police officers started pushing me. I stood my ground. They grabbed my arms and started pulling me," Espeseth told ABC13.

Parent dragged at HISD meeting

After disruptive HISD meeting, trustees adjourn without decision on underperforming schools
Police drag a woman out of HISD meeting to discuss future of ten schools

HISD released a statement, revealing at least one school district police officer was roughed up during a scuffle with someone attending the meeting:

"Per board policy BED LOCAL, audience members shall not be disruptive or abusive during the board meeting. While the district appreciates and shares the passion the community has for the students and schools and welcomes public input, audience members are expected to be respectful and observe decorum so that their views may be heard and appreciated.

During Tuesday night's workshop, after continuous disruption and multiple outbursts from members of the audience, and after several verbal requests from the Board President to adhere to the rules, attendees were instructed to clear the room and called for a recess. Many refused to leave and a scuffle ensued. An HISD police officer sustained minor injuries."

"I've been coming to all of the meetings that I can. When I found out about the consequences for these schools, I wanted to show up as much as I possibly could because it's wrong," Espeseth added.

Other parents react to HISD meeting chaos
Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.