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HISD misses on accountability ratings

There’s now a second reason for the TEA to step in and take over HISD.

Houston ISD moved a major step closer to temporarily losing local control over its school board Thursday, as long-awaited state academic accountability ratings showed one of the district’s longest-struggling campuses received its seventh consecutive failing grade, triggering a Texas law requiring harsh sanctions.

Barring a successful HISD appeal of Wheatley High School’s rating in the next several weeks, state law mandates that Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath now must close the historic Fifth Ward campus or replace the district’s much-maligned school board with a state-appointed governance team. Morath and the agency’s leaders have strongly suggested they would appoint a new school board if forced to act.

The state law demands action against any district with a campus receiving five consecutive failing grades as of 2018, regardless of the district’s size. Wheatley avoided triggering sanctions last year because it received an accountability waiver due to Hurricane Harvey, but the campus narrowly fell short of meeting standards this year.

HISD received a “B” grade for districtwide performance, on par with many of the state’s largest urban districts. Its overall score of 88 marked a 4-point improvement over last year.

Twenty-one HISD schools received an “F” grade, equal to 7.5 percent of all district campuses. An identical number of HISD schools did not meet state academic standards last year, though most received a Harvey waiver.

Notably, several HISD high schools met standard after struggling in recent years. Kashmere High School received a “C” grade, the first time it has met standard in 11 years. Madison, Sterling and Washington high schools also earned “C” grades, while North Forest and Yates high schools narrowly missed a “C” rating and scored “D”s.

See here, here, and here for the background.As with the ethics investigation, in which the HISD board has a chance to respond, there’s an appeal process available for Wheatley. It should be noted, they came pretty close to making the grade, and the other three all did quite well. Which is not to say that all is wine and roses, as other schools got failing grades, and we could wind up in a similar place in a couple of years. Plus, as the Trib noted, other school districts in the same situation as HISD took advantage of the partnership provision of HB1842 to put the day of reckoning off for two more years. As we well know, that option was rejected by HISD in response to public pressure, without ever being fully explored. I thought that was a bad decision at the time, and I feel very justified in feeling that way today.

At this point, the only viable way forward that I see for anyone who wants to fight this is to explore legal action. TEA Commissioner Mike Morath has been very clear in past public statements that the law does not give him any discretion in this matter. Either the failing schools (just Wheatley in this case) are closed, or a new Board of Trustees is appointed. A lawsuit could challenge that interpretation, and who knows, maybe it could succeed. I doubt it, but it’s got to be better odds than trying to put pressure on state leadership to find an alternative.

HISD Trustee Sue Deigaard wrote this op-ed about how we got here, detailing several points of failure by the Board. Perhaps if all nine Board members offered to resign on the spot, thus allowing an election of a new Board, that might satisfy the TEA. It would have to happen right now, because the filing deadline in Sunday, and we’d need to get a bunch of candidates up and running by then. This too is probably a pipe dream, but I don’t know what else there is to suggest at this time.

UPDATE: From this morning’s version of the story:

During an appearance with Morath on Thursday, state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Humble, said HISD officials did not take advantage of funding opportunities and legislative maneuvers that could have staved off intervention. He cited the school board’s refusal to surrender control of long-struggling campuses to outside entities, an arrangement that could have temporarily prevented sanctions and brought an additional $1,800 per student to those campuses.

“We’ve given them every opportunity to be successful, and they continue to choose not to,” said Huberty, who chairs the Texas House’s Public Education Committee.

I hate to keep harping on the partnership thing, but as you can see it’s going to be used against the Board. And I hadn’t even known about the extra funds for students that was available.

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14 Comments

  1. Manny says:

    The partnership vote failed four to five, with every single African-American trustee voting not to partnership. Jolanda Jones is now stating that she wants TEA to take over HISD. There is something that does not smell right.

    https://twitter.com/shelbywebb/status/1162059262874595330?s=20

    August 15 ABC13, won’t link as it will delay posting

    “I never thought I would ever say that I believe that elected board needed to be replaced, but the alternative is worse,” Jones told the crowd.

    She’s not alone. The Houston business community, through the Greater Houston Partnership, is pushing for takeover too.

    Behind the takeover is the business community upset because the board will not do its bidding regarding contracts and charter schools.

    Want to blame someone blame the business community, they run the city and the schools. People that for the most part are elected are their chosen puppets.

  2. Eastsider says:

    In reading the TEA report, it looks like Diana Davila was one of the worst behaving ones. On power trips & doing shady deals to circumvent the bidding process to hand contracts to her friends. In one section of the report, they outlined a meeting at a Pappadeaux that was also attended by Leticia Ablaza. Ablaza twice ran for city council, but thankfully didn’t stand a chance, but according to the report she also jumped into trying to force HISD personnel into giving no-bid contracts to what was considered undesirable vendors. (But ones she and Davila were apparently friends with). She’s the Government Relations person for Air Alliance Houston. What’s their involvement in all of this? Why is their Government Relations person involved in these super shady HISD issues? Any idea Charles?

  3. Manny says:

    I read the Eastsider is a lackey for Jolanda Jones or the Greater Houston Partnership. I hear that Eastsider is being paid to post stories like the one above. I heard that in a meeting where the Eastsider attended.

    When I hit the post comment, it will be printed, therefore it makes it true, right Eastsider?

    Jolanda Jones was so clean in that report that she did nothing wrong. Do you really believe that Eastsider.

    If TEA or anyone could prove what they said, why aren’t they going to the authorities to file charges? It is easy to make allegations when one is told they won’t divulge your name and they are not sworn in.

    But I would be careful while Davila may not sue you, don’t be so sure that Ablaza won’t for spreading malicious lies about her.

  4. Manny says:

    Eastsider if she does decide to sue don’t expect the owner of this blog to be able to protect you, he does not have the same rights as the Chronicle. He can be sued and you had post an email to post. So don’t think that you can hide and just spread lies about people that are not in public office.

    Why not post your real identity so we can see where your allegiance lies? I am who you see, I used to use my last name, Barrera, but there are numerous other persons with the same last name and first name. I am Manuel Barrera.

    Abel and Diana Davila have been friends for about 30 years, when people like you decide to attack my friends without any reason that I can see I will defend them. I did the same for Yolanda Navarro Flores, and Dave Wilson. In fact when all those false stories were occurring I had a blog and I stated often that the real culprits were others. Most of them ran when the FBI started investigating, Chris Oliver did not and my information helped the FBI.

    I don’t know what has happened but the entire report reeds of shady dealings. I have already made numerous open records request and I am following the lawsuit that has been filed. So until I know that Diana did something wrong I will defend her.

  5. Ross says:

    Manny, Davila and Ablaza are public figures. They would be laughed out of court if they sued anyone for comments on this blog. And that’s ignoring the fact that Eastsider didn’t write anything actionable at all.

  6. Manny says:

    Ablaza is not a public figure, what public office does she hold. Being a government employee does not make one a public figure.

    It would not be up to me or you do decide, could Ablaza sue yes, would she win I don’t know.

    “Why is their Government Relations person involved in these super shady HISD issues?” That sounds like someone accusing her of doing something illegal.

    Ross I know how you feel about Davila, but you have never stated why? Bet you feel the same way about my friend Yolanda Navarro Flores, contrary to all the lies that the Chronicle published, it was not her it was Chris Oliver that went to prison. There would have been others but they fled when the FBI started looking into HISD, don’t you find that interesting?

  7. Manny says:

    Looking into HCC

  8. Eastender says:

    So I guess what Manny is saying, the HISD administrator was lying when gave details of his meeting with the Davilas and Ablaza. That the whole TEA report is a falsehood. As for “super shady”, I don’t know if what they did rose to the level of illegal activity, if I did I would have said so. There is illegal and there is unethical. If you don’t think the actions outlined are unethical, or “super shady,” then that tells us everything we need to know about Manny’s ethical standards. If anyone has a problem with any of that, then they need to take it up with TEA and the media reporting it. https://www.houstonpress.com/news/tea-appears-ready-to-oust-the-hisd-school-board-11335718

  9. Manny says:

    I don’t know if they are lying, you don’t if they are telling the truth, but for some reason you have chosen to believe that TEA and or investigations are always truthful. Why not look at what HISD has stated in the their lawsuit against TEA. Did you know that they had filed a lawsuit, the Chronicle has not mentioned it. What HISD has alleged in their complaint is pretty damning of TEA. You seem to know Ablaza why not ask her if she met like the TEA states?

    My experience is that the Houston Chronicle is one of the reasons that many believe Trump when he states Fake Media.

    Did Abel go to jail for all those crimes he allegedly committed? Of course not they didn’t even attempt to file charges as everything was bogus. An investigation by a friend of Richard Schecter who was paid in excess of half a million dollars for that investigation came up with the conclusion. If you followed what happened back then Chris Oliver did very little, where is Chris Oliver now? Jay Ayer always liked to point fingers at Latinos, didn’t he get probation? Why did Schecter quit when the FBI start investigating? Yolanda Flores didn’t run away, she ran for reelection but lost.

    We don’t even know who those persons were that alleged those things are, why? They were not sworn. But if it get to trial TEA will have to present those persons and then we can decide. I don’t expect it to get to trial as TEA will decide not take over HISD. As to Wheatley they should charter it out.

    If you want to see the lawsuit, you can go to Pacer and pay for it. https://www.pacer.gov/

    Channel 2, is only stating what is in the reports, they have not done an investigation. Again look above, where it states that Eastsider is a lackey for Jolanda Jones, it is online therefore it must be true, right? It is because of people like you that the Russians can manipulate our elections.

  10. Manny says:

    Eastsider if you want to read the lawsuit, you can find it online, I have posted the amended complaint and the finding of the 5th circuit when those white male Republicans met in secret and chose Rod Paige as Superintendent. Read that decision.

  11. Bill Daniels says:

    Manny, if your people could have been exonerated, the TEA would have said so, but they could not be. Isn’t that the new standard?

  12. Manny says:

    Bill your people are racists, bigots, in general just plain deplorable types.

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