TEA's fight to takeover HISD heads to the Supreme Court of Texas

Shelley Childers Image
Friday, October 7, 2022
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Years of legal battling over what's best for nearly 200,000 Houston ISD students have led to a the Supreme Court of Texas.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Years of legal battling over what is best for nearly 200,000 Houston Independent School District students have led to the Supreme Court of Texas.

The panel of judges heard the case regarding the Texas Education Agency's attempt to take over the largest school district in Texas, HISD.

"Frankly, it's a little ridiculous that the state has taken this issue this far," Zeph Capo with the Texas AFT, which is one of the state's largest teacher's unions, said.

The TEA would replace the voter- elected school board with appointed members and replace Superintendent Millard House II with a conservator.

"When you have people that are appointed and not elected, there's a lot more room for problems," HISD parent Troy Griffin said.

It was back in 2018 when the highly dysfunctional school board first made headlines with bitter in-fighting. Then, tensions escalated between the board and the public, and dramatic scenes played out during school board meetings.

A year later, the TEA released a 34-page report announcing their intent for a state takeover. In winter of 2019, it became official, but HISD attorneys have successfully fought off the threats from TEA Commissioner Mike Morath.

"HISD has won each hearing at every level up through the Supreme Court," Capo said.

He says HISD is not the same district it was three years ago now with a new permanent superintendent, nearly an entirely new board of trustees, and poor-performing schools like Wheatley High School have improved their state grades.

Griffin doesn't think the work is over, but doesn't want to lose his voice as a voter.

"Yes, does HISD have some work to do? Clearly you know. Are they doing that work? It appears so, and things are getting better," Griffin said.

A decision from the Supreme Court of Texas is not expected for several months.

HISD declined to make a comment regarding Thursday's hearing and the TEA did not respond to messages for a statement.

RELATED: 'This Week in Texas': A discussion on teacher pay and retention with the TEA Commissioner