Los Angeles Times
GOP-led Texas takes over Houston schools, stirs ire
HOUSTON — Texas officials on Wednesday announced a state takeover of Houston’s nearly 200,000student public school district, the eighth largest in the country, acting on years of threats and angering Democrats, who assailed the move as political.
The announcement, made by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s education commissioner, amounts to one of the largest school takeovers in the nation.
The takeover is the latest example of Republican and predominately white state officials pushing to take control in heavily minority and Democratic-led cities. They include St. Louis and Jackson, Miss., where the Legislature is pushing to take over the water system and for an expanded role for state police and appointed judges.
In a letter to the Houston Independent School District, state Education Commissioner Mike Morath said the Texas Education Agency will replace Supt. Millard House II and the district’s elected board of trustees with a new superintendent and an appointed board of managers made up of residents from within the district’s boundaries.
Morath said the board has failed to improve student outcomes while conducting “chaotic board meetings marred by infighting” and violating the openmeetings act and procurement laws. He accused the district of failing to provide proper special education services and of violating state and federal laws with its approach to supporting students with disabilities.
He cited the seven-year record of poor academic performance at one of the district’s roughly 50 high schools, Wheatley High, as well as the poor performance of several other campuses.
“The governing body of a school system bears ultimate responsibility for the outcomes of all students. While the current Board of Trustees has made progress, systemic problems in Houston ISD continue to impact district students,” Morath wrote in his letter.
Most of Houston’s school board members have been replaced since the state began making moves toward a takeover in 2019. House became superintendent in 2021.
He and the current school board will remain until the new board of managers is chosen sometime after June 1.