ABC13 town hall to answer your questions about the state takeover of Houston ISD

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Friday, March 24, 2023
HISD Takeover Town Hall: What You Need to Know
Join Eyewitness News anchor Tom Abrahams as he gets answers to your questions about the impact of the state takeover of Houston ISD.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After two tense community meetings this week, there are still so many questions about the state takeover of the Houston Independent School District.

Eyewitness News anchor Tom Abrahams pressed the Texas Education Agency for answers to some of your top concerns, and they responded.

We gathered leaders for an Action 13 town hall, highlighting what the TEA said and how the takeover will impact HISD students, parents, employees and the community.

Panelists for the town hall included:

  • Dani Hernandez, HISD school board president
  • State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston
  • Jackie Anderson, Houston Federation of Teachers president

During Thursday's town hall, we heard from changemakers about how new leadership at HISD might impact everything from classroom instruction and extracurricular, to teacher retention and jobs.

Here is some of what learned Thursday night:

HISD's New Board of Managers

Q: Can a regular person be appointed without any recent and relevant experience in education? What exactly is the criteria for these positions? - Daisy J.

TEA: TEA will be accepting applications from any community member who wishes to help the students of Houston ISD.

The agency will select board members with a diverse set of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives who are mission-oriented, believe that all students can learn at a high level, and will work closely with the superintendent to improve academic achievement for all Houston ISD students.

Q: What is average tenure of a board of managers? - Concerned parent

TEA: Previous Board of Managers placements have ranged between 2 and 6 years.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Q: Why wasn't another accountability report generated prior to making the decision to prevent the mandated compliance with the law? - Concerned parent

TEA: TEA was enjoined from proceeding with the Board of Managers placement until March 1st of this year. The Board of Managers placement is based on five consecutive years of unacceptable performance at Wheatley High School. The law was triggered in 2019 and despite legal proceedings that delayed the placement, TEA is still required to act.

Q: What needs to be true for control to be transferred back? - Gilbert C.

TEA: Three things:

  1. No multi-year 'D' or 'F' campuses inside HISD
  2. HISD special education programs must be in full compliance with federal and state law
  3. An elected board of trustees that is prepared to reassume control and is highly focused on student outcomes

2nd TEA meeting on HISD takeover devolves as activists bring out a megaphone

A crowd at the second HISD takeover meeting appeared rowdier, barely giving a TEA representative the chance to speak.

Q: How will these schools be funded? If TEA is taking over, how would that effect the HISD taxes, and would it impact school zoning or the vouchers for school choice, if implemented. My son is also wondering if extracurricular activities will remain the same? We know from experience charter schools don't really have much funding like public schools to afford different activities. - Cindy M.

TEA: TEA will be making no operational changes to HISD. Decisions such as these will be addressed by the Board of Managers and new superintendent.

Q: Students and staff are overwhelmed and overworked. Will the TEA consider a 4-day work/school week? - Eva V.

TEA: School calendar decisions are local in nature. HISD's new leadership team, not TEA, will be responsible for establishing the school calendar.

Questions About Teachers & Employees

Q: I was in the process of applying with HISD. Do I need to continue or cancel? - Carolyn B.

TEA: Consistent with the role of district leadership in school systems across the state, HISD's new leadership team, not TEA, will make any and all staffing decisions. TEA encourages any high-quality educator or staff member that wants to make a difference and help the students of Houston ISD to apply for vacancies within the district.

Q: What will happen to the teachers for the next school year? - Carla

TEA: This is a change in the governing body, not dissimilar to any changes seen when trustees cycle through the elected board. Teachers in Houston are individuals of extraordinary skill and passion that educate eager young minds, and that will continue. The Board of Managers and new superintendent will be charged with empowering these educators with the tools and resources to effectively serve the students of HISD.

TEA Commissioner skips 1st meeting addressing questions about HISD takeover

Parents, teachers, and community members attended the first meeting discussing what's next after the Texas Education Agency's takeover of Houston ISD.

Q: Will the teacher pay stay the same or will it be lowered? - Concerned parent

TEA: Decisions related to compensation are local in nature and will be made by HISD's new leadership team, not TEA.

Q: Will there be any layoffs in any of the departments (maintenance, transportation, custodial) ? - Edward C.

TEA: Decisions related to staffing are local in nature and will be made by HISD's new leadership team, not TEA.

Watch "HISD Takeover: What You Need to Know" wherever you stream Eyewitness News on your TV, like Roku and Fire TV. Just search "ABC13 Houston."