Abbott Admin Is Taking Over Texas’ Largest School District Due To Repeated Academic Failures

By Reagan Reese

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s administration is taking over the largest school district in the state after years of academic failures, according to a Tuesday letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

In June, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) will be put in control of Houston Independent School District (HISD), made up of 76 schools and nearly 200,000 students, replacing the school’s “board of managers” and superintendent, according to a TEA letter obtained by the DCNF. The takeover comes after the school district has repeatedly failed to meet the state’s academic standards, according to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath.

“I think it’s actually important for families to know that this decision is not a reflection of the incredible students in Houston ISD, nor is it a reflection of the hard working teachers and staff of Houston ISD,” Morath, who was appointed by Abbott in 2015, told Houston Public Media. “There are many students in Houston that are truly flourishing, but there are also a large number of students in Houston who have not been given the supports necessary to succeed.”

In 2019, the TEA attempted to take over HISD after Phillis Wheatley High School fell below the state’s academic standards for the seventh straight year, the Texas Tribune reported. The school district immediately sued, pausing the takeover until the Texas Supreme Court ruled in 2023 that the TEA could proceed.

The state agency posted job openings and descriptions for the school district’s board of managers on Tuesday, the Texas Tribune reported.

“In prior years, Houston ISD was governed by a Board of Trustees that did not focus on improving student outcomes,” Morath wrote in his announcement. “Instead, the Board conducted chaotic board meetings marred by infighting while Board members routinely exceeded their authority, directing staff in violation of the school laws of Texas.”

Wheatley High School improved its academic rating, determined by the TEA, from a F in 2019 to a C in 2021, the Texas Tribune reported. Approximately 94% of HISD schools have received academic ratings of A, B or C with 10 campuses earning a D or F.

“I am proud to say, in the last 19 months, we have already seen vast improvements,” Millard House II, HISD superintendent, told the DCNF. “Because of the hard work of our students, teachers and staff, we have lifted 40 of 50 schools off the D or F TEA accountability ratings list. Together, with our parents, community members and leaders, we developed the district’s first comprehensive five-year strategic plan to build a better HISD. Today’s announcement does not discount the gains we have made district-wide.”

The TEA did not immediately respond the DCNF’s request for comment.

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