HISD takeover: 1-year review steeped in controversy

Lileana Pearson Image
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HISD take over: 1 year review steeped in controversy
It's been a year since the TEA took over HISD. Superintendent Mike Miles told ABC13 it's all gone well but there's some controversy.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As we approach the end of the school year for Houston ISD, ABC13 is looking back at the first year of the Texas Education Agency's takeover and revisiting some of this year's highlights.

Within district headquarters, the message is a positive one.

"I'm feeling great, positive. I think the year has gone well," HISD-appointed Superintendent Mike Miles said.

But there's no denying it's been a year steeped in controversy and mixed opinions.

From polarizing performances put on by Miles himself, to countess student walkouts, the year has been a chorus of strong opinions.

After the official first day of the takeover, June 1, 2023, the controversial changes were immediate. Some schools switched to the New Education System (NES), a model similar to one Miles used while superintendent in Dallas. Part of that system intended massive pay increases for some teachers, but after budget meetings in 2024, big salaries and retention bonuses began to change for some NES teachers.

"Our reaction is that we are appalled but it's really business as usual under Mike Miles," Andrew Dewey with the Houston Federation of Teachers said.

The NES system also brought the promise of more resources for schools, but the transformation of some libraries into disciplinary centers and the ending of a contract that brought free Verizon wifi to some students and teachers pushed back on that idea.

"I feel like I'm not doing it right, like I'm not doing this school year right," Sofia, a Pugh Elementary School student, said.

13 Investigates also found that more teachers were leaving the district than ever before and that more principals were being fired and reassigned under the new administration.

Then, in March of this year, 100 principals were put on notice that they may lose their jobs due to school performance. In early May, an unknown number of principals, teachers, and support staff received letters saying they would not be back for the coming school year.

Despite all this, Miles said he has a positive outlook for the coming year.

"We've moved pretty fast for sure, and I'm just impressed with the teachers and principals and the staff (who) have done so much in their first year," Miles said.

Miles has also faced more controversy recently after an investigation alleged schools he founded in Texas were sending tax dollars to charter schools he helped start in Colorado, but he's pushed back on that saying that did not happen.

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