HISD still trying to figure out what to do with the four schools that didn’t meet standards

Don’t take too long on this.

After months with little public discussion about whether to temporarily surrender control over four long-struggling schools, Houston ISD officials are expected to start ramping up talks about any such plans as state-mandated deadlines quickly approach.

HISD administrators and trustees said they will meet after the Thanksgiving holiday to consider how they will approach the possibility of giving up control of the four campuses, which would stave off major state sanctions tied to chronically low academic performance at the schools.

The politically fraught option drew backlash from some community members in the spring, when trustees did not vote on Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan’s recommendation to give control of 10 campuses to a local charter school network, but district leaders say they remain open to employing the option before an early February 2019 deadline.

To date, administrators and trustees have not had extensive public conversations about if and how the district would approach surrendering control of the four campuses — even though the two sides have known since mid-August that HISD potentially faces sanctions if those schools remain under district authority.

If HISD does not hand over control of the four schools to an outside organization, and if any one of the four fails to meet state academic standards in August 2019, the Texas Education Agency must close campuses or replace the district’s school board.

“I wish that we could have started these earlier, but I still think it’s better late than never,” said HISD Trustee Anne Sung, who is helping to coordinate the post-Thanksgiving public meeting. “I think we’re starting to make some progress on having a timeline and plan for these conversations.”


Trustee Elizabeth Santos, who generally has opposed private partnerships, said HISD administrators and board members should have more transparent discussions after remaining relatively quiet over the past few months.

“My biggest concern is that I don’t want a repeat of April 24, and that seems to be what’s happening,” Santos said. “We’re going to be pushed into a corner where we limit our options. This has been staring us in the face since last year.”

See here and here for some background. I agree with Trustee Santos, we need to get this show on the road. There are options, beyond the optimal one of bringing all four schools up to standard, that would satisfy the law and avoid excessive intervention by the state. If the intent, with which I largely agree, is to also avoid partnering with a charter school, then the previously explored possibility of teaming up with a city-run non-profit, or the not-as-far-as-I-know-explored potential for a pair-up with HCC should be on the table. Even more fundamental than that, the parents and teachers and students in the schools that are at risk need to be engaged so HISD isn’t caught flat-footed by the response to their actions. HISD needs to get everyone who has a stake in this involved, listen to what they do and don’t want, and lead the way in finding the best path forward. Sooner rather than later would also be appreciated.

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8 Responses to HISD still trying to figure out what to do with the four schools that didn’t meet standards

  1. Mayor Turner could pass a 5 day paid sick leave ordinance which would allow for low income families to spend more time helping their children prepare for school.

    But unfortunately the black-democrats on houston city council are nothing more than just place holders.

  2. Gregory Shaw says:

    The idea that a “City-run” anything, and HISD (the State’s two most dysfunctional institutions) should “team-up” on anything is scary.

  3. Ross says:

    Joe, you are just plain stupid, aren’t you? Parental sick leave has nothing to do with student performance in HISD. The students with the issues are generally from families who don’t consider education a priority, or have no clue as to the importance of education. Besides, a Houston sick leave ordinance would end up just like the Austin ordinance, deemed a State Constitutional violation by the courts, and overturned.

    A big help for the schools would be for the Black HISD trustees to get off of their race baiting performances(I’m talking especially to you, Jolanda Jones) and work with the Black community to improve these schools. One option I’ve heard, and oppose, is to stop students from transferring our of the schools to Lamar, Bellaire, etc. That would mask the issues with low performing students, while hurting the education of the kids whose parents care enough about education to transfer them to higher performing schools.

  4. Mark Kerrissey says:

    The four IR schools are two high schools, a middle school and an elementary school comprising of 3000 students and 182 teachers. I would estimate these schools hand $15 million plus in PUA and other subsides.

    Trustee Sung and others can discuss the pathway forward with “outside partners”. but the game is rigged. At the end of the day all “outside partnerships” must be approved by TEA Commissioner Morath. And Mr. Morath is adding more charters to TEA’s approved “partnership” list. I predict HISD will submit the name of a progressive outside partnership February 2 only to be rejected by TEA, thereby, putting HISD in a time bind to accept a TEA approved charter organization. The game is rigged to flip our students, teachers, and buildings to private control who will determine who stays, who goes. Now that his boss has won reelection, Morath is going to be hard nosed. He is pro charter like his boss.

    I hope Sung, Santos, and company get hard nosed too. Push Supt. Lathan to perform another miracle at these four schools. Support the new pro education Lege;s effort to yank power back from a politically appointed bureaucrat, TEA Morath, to decide. Don’t surrender our kids to strangers who brag.

  5. Mark Kerrissey says:

    Ross, There is a dark side to our Backpack campus funding formula, namely, the $3400 PUA follows the kid. This funding formula encourages poaching by principals. They accept transfers from other HISD schools gladly, but once “Snapshoot” (October 31) is over and the campus gets the $3400, they exit the trouble makers back to their home schools which now has the problem but not the money. Lamar HS has 3000 kids. 2/3 are transfer ins from surrounding HISD schools. Do you think Lamar will accept SPED kids? Staar failing kids? Is Lamar negatively impacting the programs offered by its sister schools?

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    ” Lamar HS has 3,000 kids”

    Well, only 2,997 now, but I don’t want to nitpick.

  7. I’d imagine that the two high schools have students that are working multiple part time jobs as well to support their families

  8. Arthur J Smith says:

    *It Is Time For This Board To Hit The Road! They Are Clueless! Periord!

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