Latest Updates on TEA’s Takeover of Houston ISD

Houston ISD students and parents protested the takeover at school campuses across the city Thursday, April 6. Photos courtesy of Community Voices for Public Education

The Texas Education Agency presented its takeover plans in more detail to the sitting Houston ISD Board of Trustees on Thursday, in a community meeting that went about as well as its previous attempts.  

Once again, Houston parents, students, and school employees did not hear directly from Education Commissioner Mike Morath himself. Despite making himself available to The Houston Chronicle’s editorial board, Morath has yet to attend a single community meeting in the district his agency will soon oversee. Instead, Steve Lecholop, TEA’s deputy commissioner of governance, delivered the presentation. 

Lecholop, you may recall, is the TEA official who, in February, was caught in leaked audio admitting that private school vouchers would reduce public school funding — a truth that Gov. Greg Abbott and voucher proponents have long denied. In that conversation, Lecholop encouraged a parent to “stick it” to her child’s public school district by advocating for vouchers publicly. 

(Lecholop’s conversation with Houston ISD families was less transparent; his presentation materials were not provided in the school board’s agenda documents.)

Of note from last night’s meeting, TEA announced it has reopened the window for applications for the Houston ISD board of managers until April 20. The agency, however, is starting the screening and selection process with the 374 applications it has already received.

TEA’s presentation provided little in the way of any further clarity, despite pointed questions from sitting board members. The only thing that is clear is how little trust the Houston ISD community has for TEA’s intentions. 

“The TEA hasn’t put out any information about anything that’s going to happen except for — strictly — the board of managers,” Bela Jotwani, a junior at Carnegie Vanguard High School, told The Texas Tribune last week. “I just don’t know [how] my education is going to change.”