LULAC president says TEA's hiring process 'political and calculated' to keep Hispanic applicants low

Thursday, April 27, 2023
HISD Latinos underrepresented as only 52 Hispanics applied for board
One of the main questions HISD parents have is -- when the TEA appoints a new superintendent and board, who will they be? Here is what we have learned so far.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Texas Education Agency is moving forward in the process of taking over Houston ISD, and ABC13 is tracking every step along the way. We're getting a closer look at the people who have applied for the nine manager positions.

In June, a new superintendent and nine managers will be appointed to govern the district.

Right now, some of the main questions HISD parents and employees have are -- come June when the TEA appoints a new superintendent and a board of nine managers, who will they be? Are they qualified? Will the board of managers reflect the student body?

A total of 462 people have applied, according to the TEA. They are former educators, current teachers, attorneys, doctors, and parents.

TEA officials told ABC13 that 40 people were disqualified from the process because they live outside the district. In total, 199 men, 260 women, and three titled as "other" applied.

One-third of the applicants are white, nearly 40% are Black, and 4.5% are Asian. Here is where the concern lies. The Hispanic population remains vastly underrepresented. The TEA only received 52 Hispanic applicants, but we know Latinos make up 62% of the HISD student body.

While the TEA says it will "ensure geographic diversity within the new board," ABC13 spoke with the president of Greater Houston LULAC who called the process political, strategic, and a calculated plan to keep the Hispanic applicant numbers low.

"First thing is, Latinos have always felt excluded from employment opportunities in HISD. If you look at the number of Latinos working at HISD, it is again very dismal and disproportionate to the number of Latinos in Houston and in Harris County, and also the student body. Research has shown over and over again that if you have leaders that look like you, your student outcome will improve," Dr. Sergio Lira said.

So what could have been done to get more Hispanic applicants? Lira said for starters, there should have been Spanish-speaking town halls.

There are some numbers that give hope as to qualifications. The TEA says nearly 70% of applicants hold a master's or doctorate degree, including 38 people with a doctorate in education. The TEA says there are many HISD teachers and employees up for consideration, but they must resign if they are chosen.

So what's next? All applicants are now required to attend one of two weekend training sessions.

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