HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The announcement from the Texas Education Agency that the state will officially take over Houston ISD Wednesday morning brought mixed reactions among the district's board of trustees.
Many are concerned that the representatives elected by parents will no longer be able to advocate for what they want for their children. On the other end, supporters said it's time for HISD to undergo a major overhaul.
Board president Dani Hernandez said although the discussion about a potential state takeover first started four years ago around the time she was elected, she was hoping it would never happen.
"It was definitely a little bit of a shock. It's a different feeling now that we've actually received the letter (from TEA). I believe in the democratically elected board. I ran for this position. I think that community voice is very important for local school districts. HISD is a local school district, and we need to do everything that we can to keep it in local control," Hernandez said. "Does HISD have room to grow? The answer is yes. But there have been tremendous strides and leaps with student academics."
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However, board secretary Kendall Baker believes that the issue goes beyond Wheatley High School and the arguments about improving grades at dozens of failing schools. He said there are many other cracks in the foundation that need to be fixed within HISD.
"It's a sad day that it had to come to this. But coming from the inside, the best decision has been made (Wednesday). I am extremely ecstatic. I want the TEA to come in and fix a fractured board. Our students have suffered at the hands of leadership. I have full confidence that (TEA Commissioner) Mike Morath will do everything possible to help parents, teachers, taxpayers, and students," Baker said. "Exterminate the place, find the bodies, and head over back to us."
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Sue Deigaard, who represents District V, is more neutral about the situation, saying that the focus needs to be on providing the best environment for students to learn and thrive.
"We all have our different feelings about this. I don't think how I feel matters. I think what matters to me is no matter who is sitting in that seat, whether it is me, whether there's somebody that if I were to have lost my election and somebody else beat me, or whether the state replaces me with an appointed person, I want them to be successful for kids," Diegaard said. "We have to make sure principals can move forward, there's consistency and stability, and the district is still being run as efficiently as possible."
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Superintendent Millard House II and the current school board will finish out the school year. The state will replace them after June 1 with a "board of managers." There's no time limit on state takeovers in Texas law, so this could last anywhere from a month to several years.
"I may not have voting power soon. But I will still be out in the community and be a liaison to any appointed board of managers because I think that community voice is very important. Appointed managers need to hear from the trustees, who are the voice of the community," Hernandez said.
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