Texas officials announced Wednesday a state takeover of the eighth-largest school district in the U.S. after allegations of misconduct by school trustees and chronically low academic scores at its schools.
According to The Associated Press, Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced officials would officially gain control of the Houston Independent School District (HISD).
Morath cited a state law which mandates Texas officials to take control and argued that it as the best way to get the district back on track, according to The Houston Chronicle.
“Even with recent improvements and despite good intentions from many, Houston ISD as a system continues to allow chronically low achievement in multiple schools,” Morath said. “State intervention is necessary in several years in an attempt to shore up support for students in those schools.”
Morath sent a letter to the Houston ISD Board of Trustees alerting them to the takeover Wednesday morning, KPRC 2 News reported.
“The goal here is to let what is great about Houston continue to be great, but where there are places where students have for far too long gone without the sort of structure of support that they need,” Morath told KPRC 2 News. “The system of Houston ISD seems to allow campuses to go many, many years without seeing performance.”
Officials began working on the takeover of the HISD in 2019 after Wheatley High School reportedly received seven consecutive unacceptable ratings and dozens of other schools in the district received D or F evaluations.
The failing grades triggered a state law that required schools to close or install a board of managers to replace the existing district board members, The Houston Chronicle reported.
District officials filed a lawsuit against the state, but the Texas Supreme Court blocked the case due to new education laws passed by the state legislature, which gave authority to the state to take control.
Texas Education Agency officials will reportedly appoint a board of managers and a superintendent to oversee the district until the end of the school year in June.