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

Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Tension high at 1st meeting since HISD takeover announcement
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Parents, teachers, and community members attended the first meeting discussing what's next after the Texas Education Agency's takeover of Houston ISD.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Parents, teachers, community members, and anyone with questions about what's next after the Texas Education Agency's takeover of Houston ISD can attend information sessions that started on Tuesday.

All of the meetings start at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023: Chavez High School | Auditorium

8501 Howard, Houston 77017

Wednesday, March 29, 2023: Hattie Mae White | Board Auditorium

Educational Support Center

4400 West 18th St., Houston 77092

Thursday, March 30, 2023: Kashmere High School | Auditorium

6900 Wileyvale, Houston 77028

The meetings are also meant to address questions about the application process for the board of managers that will replace HISD's superintendent and trustees temporarily during this takeover.

After the presentation, the TEA will be answering questions from those in attendance. If you are not able to make it in person to one of the meetings, the TEA says there will be a webinar later on that people will be able to watch.

ABC13's Daniela Hurtado spoke to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath last week, when the takeover was announced, about what he's looking for in the board of managers, and who he wants in place by June 1.

"We want to make sure we have a very diverse decision-making body. We want people with different life experiences. Some that have an education background, some that maybe have skills in finance... that they have different lived experiences because only when you have a sort of diverse group of people coming together can you then arrive at what are the best decisions to be made for kids," Morath said.

Under Texas law, it's ultimately Morath's decision to choose the board of managers, though, he told ABC13 that he won't be governing, they will.

The requirements to sit on the board of managers include being an eligible voter in Harris County, not being convicted of a crime, passing a background check, and filling out a conflict of interest form.

The first of four meetings was held on Tuesday night at Westbury High School.

There was a fired-up auditorium with parents, educators and community members wanting answers from the Texas Education Agency about how this takeover will look like and why it's even happening.

Morath, who has final say on who will serve on the board of managers, was not in attendance. He sent Deputy Commissioner Alejandro Delgado to face the crowd instead.

Delgado had the stage for about 40 minutes trying to explain and navigate how to answer the public's questions.

"He was not answering the questions if every answer is going to be the board of managers. The board of managers, how are you answering the questions?" Jackie Anderson, a community member, asked.

The meeting was only an hour long and the folks at the TEA were firm in saying they would be done by 7:30 p.m.

"And then they let elected officials talk for 30 minutes," Travis McGee, a concerned parent, said.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee spoke for nearly 20 minutes of the 60 minutes allotted by the TEA for this information session. She said she would talk to Morath and demand answers for the community.

"They didn't answer anything. And that's not fair. I'm a teacher at HISD. We have teachers that are stressed," an educator, who didn't offer their name, told ABC13.

Larry McKinzie has been an HISD educator for more than two decades.

McKinzie said he needed more out of the TEA Tuesday night.

"They had Gary over there who was reading slowly. Maybe he went to one of those schools that didn't do well. But whatever is going on, you can tell this is a sham," McKinzie said.

These questions are ones they hope are answered as the TEA begins its transition to a state-appointed board of managers as early as June 1.

ABC13 wants to help you get answers from state officials and lawmakers, too.

Eyewitness News anchor Tom Abrahams is moderating our next Action 13 town hall, "HISD Takeover: What you need to know," this Thursday at 7 p.m.

You can submit your questions about the takeover here for possible inclusion in this week's conversation.