On Wednesday, the Texas Education Agency officially announced they were taking over Houston ISD. The threat had been omnipresent for years, but in the past few weeks the drumbeat of a potential takeover of the state’s largest school district became deafening.
The TEA will replace the HISD superintendent and school board in June with a “board of managers.” TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, who was first appointed by Greg Abbott in 2016, has not indicated how long that board will serve.
In an interview with Fox 26, Morath cited a law passed in 2015 as the impetus for the takeover, as well as the failing grade of Phyllis Wheatley High School for five years. The law stipulates that either the campus must shutter, or the state takes over the school district.
The TEA attempted to takeover HISD in 2019, but that was mired in lawsuits. In January the state Supreme Court made a decision to block an injunction that paved the way for this week’s ruling.
At a press conference Wednesday, leaders from the Texas Black Legislative Caucus, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus and the House Democratic Caucus blasted the takeover announcement. State Rep. Ron Reynolds called it a “dark day” for Houston. He also noted the disproportionate impact it would have on Black and Brown students. His colleague State Rep. Christina Morales questioned, “how is this in the best interests of students?”
The takeover, which was timed during Spring Break, was also rebuked by the ACLU of Texas. “The state takeover of HISD is not about public education — it’s about political control of a 90 percent Black and brown student body in one of the country’s most diverse cities,” they wrote on Twitter.