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North Forest still fighting closure

I don’t know how successful they’ll be, nor do I know if I should wish them luck.

Texas Education Agency officials on Friday made their final case for closing North Forest ISD, while district leaders countered that the school system has improved but is being held to an unfair standard.

The TEA’s chief deputy commissioner, Lizzette Reynolds, will issue a final ruling April 1 on whether to annex the 7,000-student North Forest Independent School District into neighboring Houston ISD.

Chris Tritico, an attorney for North Forest, said he would be surprised if the district won the appeal hearing because a high-ranking TEA official is charged with making the decision, and the agency’s commissioner ordered that North Forest must close at the end of this school year after failing to fix its long history of academic and financial problems.

Tritico said after the four-hour hearing Friday that he will take the case to the courts if the district loses the appeal to the TEA.

Allegations of non-impartiality aside, it’s hard to see how NFISD prevails. Be that as it may, Hair Balls goes into more detail about the charter takeover proposal, and the reason why the problems with NFISD have been so intractable.

For anyone who has followed North Forest, including former administrators who returned to the district to try to save it, all progress stops with the school board. Even this most recent innovative proposal to partner with charters, which allegedly includes an almost-signed memorandum of agreement, was approved at a recent board meeting where no such agreement was posted for discussion.

The charter school agreement keeps the school board alive in some vague fashion. Annexation into HISD, of course, does not.

Almost all signs of progress accomplished by state-appointed superintendent Adrain Johnson and a board of monitors, including 6th- and 9th-grade transition campuses that were highly favored by local teacher groups, were abolished within a couple of months of the board’s reinstatement and Johnson’s abrupt firing.

Rumors of unpaid bills, bad debt and poor financial ratings that won’t allow the district to issue bonds continue to dog North Forest, despite claims that the district’s finances produced a clean audit report this year and $4.5 million in spare cash.

We should have a ruling on the appeal from the TEA by the end of March. KUHF has more.

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