HISD moves towards District of Innovation status

One more step to go, which ought to be a mere formality.

The Houston ISD District Advisory Committee voted in favor of the “District of Innovation” plan Tuesday, putting the state’s largest school district one step closer to obtaining the designation.

The plan, if given final approval next month, would allow the district to start the upcoming school year as early as the first Monday in August, expand the number of days in the school year and hire uncertified teachers without obtaining waivers every year from the Texas Education Agency.

The 60-member committee is made up of educators, community members and public education advocates, with approximately one third appointed by the superintendent, one third appointed by the school board and one third of elected members.

The appointed HISD Board of Managers still needs to approve the plan with a two-thirds majority vote before it can go into effect. The board is expected to vote on the plan during their regular meeting on Dec. 14, according to a media release from the district.

HISD and Cypress-Fairbanks are the only two districts in the Houston area that have not obtained the designation, although both are in the process of pursuing it. Nearly every eligible school district in Texas is a DOI, and almost all of them have exempted themselves from laws requiring them to start the year in late August and hire certified teachers and administrators.

The committee approved the proposal in a 41-18 vote after about 45 people spoke during the meeting, largely against the adoption of the plan. Several attendees asked the committee to vote no because they did not trust the unelected Board of Managers and superintendent to use the exceptions to benefit the district, and many others spoke out against hiring uncertified teachers.

“Under normal circumstances with an elected board, I might not care about whether HISD turned into a DOI,” HISD parent Anita Wadhwa said. “However, Miles and this board don’t have the … trust of the public to be able to be given free rein on all choices made for my daughters. There’s no indication that if we give them an inch, they won’t take a yard.”


The vote comes after the district’s DOI planning committee removed three exemptions that were initially included in the proposal. The plan no longer would allow HISD to hire uncertified teachers without parental notification, life requirements for class size waivers from the Texas Education Agency and eliminate a designated behavior coordinator from each school.

See here, here, and here for the background. This earlier Chron story goes into more detail about the revisions to the DOI plan. I think we can expect it to pass as is with unanimous support from the Board of Managers. My opinion remains the same, roughly what parent Anita Wadhwa and teacher Jennifer Mathieu Blessington (later in the article) said. As with everything else, we have to hope it works. Houston Landing has more.

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