Several Dem legislators want to investigate HISD

We’ll see if this goes anywhere.

Several Houston-area Democratic legislators are calling for a formal hearing to address “potential violations of state law” in Houston ISD in the aftermath of the Texas Education Agency stripping elected leaders from the school district.

The lawmakers asked in a letter sent Friday that the House Committee on Public Education host a hearing to address reports of “unqualified, non-degree holding teachers” working in classrooms and a lack of accommodations for students with disabilities. They also requested independent research proving the benefits of state-appointed Superintendent Mike Miles’ New Education System.

The request comes after the state takeover of HISD in March 2023 and the Texas Education Agency’s appointment of the Superintendent and nine members of the Board of Managers. Due to the takeover, the nine lawmakers who signed the letter said it is “imperative that the state assume full responsibility for HISD students and hold the board of managers accountable”

“As their duly elected State Representatives, we must hold a hearing to learn more about these concerning reports and efforts to subvert state laws and requirements,” the letter states.

Reps. Christina Morales, Ann Johnson, Jarvis Johnson, Penny Morales Shaw, Mary Ann Perez, Jon Rosentahl, Shawn Thierry, Hubert Vo and Gene Wu all signed the letter, which was addressed to Speaker of the Texas House Dade Phelan and the House education committee. Phelan and TEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.

“Teacher reports and parent concerns are uncovering troubling developments at our schools,” Morales wrote in a statement. “The community can no longer vote on who represents us on the school board, so we as the state representatives must hold the appointed board accountable.”

In a response to the letter, HISD said it was going to stay focused on “the critical work of serving students and families,” and it had already seen positive impacts for kids after implementing reforms.

“HISD has invited dozens of elected and community leaders into our schools to see the work happening first-hand,” the district wrote. “We are pleased to share our progress with any other leaders who want to better understand what’s happening in the schools.”


According to the letter, the district has circumvented the law requiring teachers to obtain a bachelor’s degree, a certification and other requirements to work in a classroom by assigning certified teachers as the teacher of record for more than one classroom.

“These efforts are not only detrimental to the continued learning and development of our students, but also a violation of state law,” lawmakers said.

The Democratic lawmakers also said the district has shared plans with teachers and administrators to address a teacher shortage by hiring community college students as teacher apprentices and learning coaches.

I appreciate what they’re doing here. I note that all they can do is ask for something to happen; they don’t have the power right now to do anything directly themselves. They can’t even use the time-honored tactic of applying pressure on the HISD Board members because oops, none of them are elected and the only accountability they have is to the TEA itself. Maybe there’s a lawsuit that could be filed over some of those allegations, I have no idea. But this is what happens when the people lose their voice. And what happens next, which likely will be nothing because what incentive does Dade Phelan or whoever would bring in some independent researchers have to do anything, is what we get.

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