North Forest gets a reprieve

For a year.

The long-troubled North Forest school district will remain intact for at least another year as Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott granted it a rare reprieve Friday from having to close in July.

Scott said he would give the northeast Houston district a year to improve. He said he had seen some academic progress but still had serious concerns about its financial stability.

North Forest officials, backed by several state lawmakers and a member of Congress, had appealed Scott’s earlier order to close the district. At the time, Scott said he was worried about the “long-term education of the students.”

“We do think that the district has made some improvements under this current superintendent, and there’s some legal issues that prompted this decision,” Debbie Ratcliffe, a spokeswoman for Scott, said late Friday when the decision was announced.

Ratcliffe said the state faced a time crunch to get federal approval for the closure before this school year ended. The U.S. Department of Justice has to sign off to ensure voters’ rights would not be violated.

In addition, the Texas Education Agency, which Scott oversees, had not conducted the state-mandated investigation of the impact on the Houston Independent School District, which would have assumed control of North Forest and its roughly 7,500 students.

Hair Balls has a copy of the TEA’s ruling. I don’t have any strong feelings about this one way or another. The kids’ education is what matters most; everything else is subservient to that. NFISD proponents cite the work of new Superintendent Edna Forte and asked that she be given time to show that the improvements she has brought about are real. I sincerely hope she’s up to the task, but it must be noted that NFISD has a history of hiring and firing superintendents, so let’s just say the jury is still out. I hope this time around the story has a happy ending.

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