Texas Education Agency denies four HISD schools Harvey waiver

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Texas Education Agency has denied a Harvey waiver to HISD involving four district schools, and the consequences of that could be severe.

A new state education performance requirement would allow the state to close the schools or put a replacement school board in place. The schools involved are Mading Elementary, Wesley Elementary, Woodsen PK-8, and Worthing High School.

When the TEA notified HISD that a number of its schools were underperforming, the possibility of turning them into charter schools drew a loud response from parents at a board meeting several weeks ago. HISD took the plan off the table, with the possibility of a waiver because of the flood just 10 months ago. The disaster damaged schools buildings and displaced students.

A representative for the Houston Federation of Teachers questioned how those schools could be singled out, saying the flood "affected every school in the area."

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has been working with TEA and HISD to solve the issue. "I question why one school in Acres Homes was given a waiver and another Acres Homes school was not," he said. "And I'm from Acres Homes."

The waiver was seen as a Hail Mary pass to avoid either the closure of the underperforming schools or the school board replacement by the state.

HISD board president Rhonda Skillern Jones believes the final test results that will show whether academics have improved at the four schools will surprise. "We've been making progress every year with them. Some have just been getting to the line, but there've been upward trajectories in the last three years with those schools." She said she doesn't believe the schools will be closed.

Turner said he speaks with the Texas Education Commissioner each week. "We want to find a solution to this," he said. "But I tell the TEA- if the state is to step in and take over HISD, the largest school district in the state of Texas, with 215,000 kids. If you take it over, you own it."

HISD can appeal the TEA decision, barring positive test results. A ruling on any appeal would be issued in November.

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