Outgoing HISD board members questions TEA with 2 weeks out from takeover

Rosie Nguyen Image
Friday, May 19, 2023
Outgoing board members of HISD hold meeting with TEA
During the meeting, a TEA representative reassured the board that the process, starting in two weeks, would not disrupt daily operations for HISD schools.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With exactly two weeks left before the official state takeover of Houston ISD, a Texas Education Agency representative fielded questions from the outgoing Board of Trustees during a public meeting on Thursday.

ORIGINAL REPORT: 'Ultimately, this intervention is necessary': State announces official TEA takeover of Houston ISD

The Q&A session took place shortly after a budget meeting at HISD headquarters. The board mainly wanted to know what to expect during the transition to new leadership and the extent of their involvement after the state takeover.

Although a few trustees expressed some frustration, the meeting was nowhere nearly as heated as previous informational sessions between the public and the TEA.

READ MORE: TEA Commissioner skips out on 1st meeting addressing questions about state's takeover of HISD

The state has been accepting applications for the new Board of Managers for HISD since March. Steve Lecholop, TEA's deputy commissioner of governance, reported that 462 applicants were invited to the Lone Star Governance training and 227 had completed it.

"It is absolutely our expectation and intention that the new board (would) engage and partner with you guys. We would invite you to be advisors and partners with the Board of Managers," Lecholop said.

Lecholop explained that outgoing trustees would be invited to serve in an advisory capacity for the new leadership and as liaisons for their districts during a 90-day community engagement strategy period. "Each of you has institutional memory that is valuable and well-informed. Engaging with the new board members to relay that is going to be a very valuable service that each of you could provide," he said.

"I would encourage you to share your vision, your values, your concerns and really partner with them to help define and develop what they're going to implement."

The invitation, however, wasn't met with the best reception.

"So y'all want to get two-for-one freebies, huh? Because we don't get paid, zero," board trustee Kathy Blueford-Daniels said.

In response, Lecholop argued that it would be in the community's best interest for the board to remain engaged.

"This is a temporary intervention. The board will return to elected leadership. I suspect many of you will continue to run, be engaged, and transition back onto the board after the timeline of the intervention takes place," he said.

RELATED: HISD teachers disappointed after 1st meeting with Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath

Although there is still time for the trustees to decide what they'd like to do, trustee Kendall Baker believes all of his colleagues will ultimately choose to help the Board of Managers settle in their new temporary roles.

"They have all committed to doing so, I believe. We're a team, and we all have a heart for these children. I think we can put aside our differences," Baker told ABC13.

During the Q&A session, Baker asked about speculations regarding former Dallas ISD superintendent Mike Miles being selected as HISD's next superintendent. This came after Mayor Sylvester Turner posted a tweet about the rumor Saturday, but Lecholop stayed tight-lipped.

"The appointment as superintendent is squarely the decision of the commissioner, and today, I'm not going to engage in rumors or speculation or comments that's out there," Lecholop said.

RELATED: TEA says 'selection has not been made' for HISD superintendent following mayor's tweet

As for concerns from employees, parents, and students, the TEA says the state takeover will not impact any day-to-day operations for HISD schools.

"Just because a new superintendent is coming in does not mean that there's going to be any downstream impact immediately. The trains are still going to run on time," said Lecholop.

On June 1, the TEA plans to announce who Commissioner Mike Morath will appoint as HISD's new superintendent and the nine people selected for the new Board of Managers.

Their first meeting will then take place a week after, on June 8. The state claims there will be no lapse in leadership during the transition.

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