HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- People against the state's takeover of Houston Independent School District are focusing on ways to stop it.
On Thursday, a group representing 25 civil rights and advocacy organizations announced a legal complaint accusing the Texas Education Agency of systemically discriminating against majority-minority school districts like HISD.
The Greater Houston Coalition for Justice sent a letter to the Secretary of Education in Washington, D.C. It said the state has a pattern of taking over school districts serving predominantly Black and Hispanic or economically disadvantaged families.
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Sarah Castillo's son, Eli, attends Heights High School and is in the marching band. She's a proud HISD parent and said the TEA's decision to take over the district is out of step with what students need.
"We are being targeted, and I'm not quite sure why other school districts aren't being looked at with the same lens. We certainly aren't the only ones with failing schools, " Castillo said.
That argument is at the heart of a new complaint from the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice. It accuses the state of illegal discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Rep. Harold Dutton authored the bill allowing the TEA to take control of HISD. "If the takeover is a crime, it ought to be capital punishment for failing to educate a child, " he said.
Dutton stood by his legislation in Austin. He said the TEA should get involved, especially considering HISD's racial demographics.
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"The failing schools are always in area of Black and Brown. That's just the way it works, and should we accept that? Should we accept that," Dutton asked.
Student success is the common chord, but leaders like Rep. Dutton and parents like Castillo are on different notes.
"If he were really interested in helping our kids, this is not the way to do it. Shutting down schools. Taking over school districts. This is not the way to help out our students," Castillo said.
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