Plan to phase out Fort Bend ISD's academies draws criticism

SUGAR LAND, TX (KTRK) -- Fort Bend ISD parents and students packed one of two planned community meetings addressing a controversial proposal to phase out the district's so-called academies.

Parents submitted dozens, if not hundreds, of questions and when they didn't think they were getting answers from Fort Bend ISD administrators, it went downhill.

"You're lying," yelled one father from across the room.

The question and answer period came after an hour-long presentation explaining why the district is proposing to phase out five of its so-called academies-specialty programs with specific focus like global studies housed in existing high schools like Clements. More than 1,800 high school students out of the district's 23,000 are currently enrolled in the academies. Superintendent Dr. Charles Dupre says they are trying to comply with House Bill 5 passed last year.

"The primary component is expanding career pathways for all students at all high schools," Dr Dupre told Eyewitness News.

Parents are concerned the plan needs more time.

"We don't know what to expect. It's an experiment," said Stuart Jackson.

The academies will be phased out over three years so currently enrolled students will be able to finish. Administrators presented the proposal to the board Monday night. Now parents and students are hearing it. The plan is to duplicate most of the specialty programs within all high schools.

"So there's no reason to go from current zoned school to another school to access the pathway because it will be available at the school they attend," said Dupre.

It has not been well-received, and for Meena Mohan's eighth grader who already had his high school years mapped to include an academy, it's a big disruption.

"All of a sudden to pull that away from him is not fair," said Mohan.

There will be another community meeting Thursday night at the Administrative Annex Auditorium at 3119 Sweetwater Boulevard in Sugar Land where Fort Bend ISD officials will again collect feedback and answer questions. Additionally, the district will receive online comments at fortbendisd.com starting Friday through December 1.

The final proposal will be presented to the Board of Trustees December 15th for a vote.
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