Nearly a year into the state’s takeover of Houston Independent School District, nine Houston-area state representatives have sent a letter to Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan requesting a public hearing on the state of the district.

The Texas Education Agency began a temporary takeover of Houston ISD last year due to persistent academic failures at some campuses, corrupt school officials, and the presence of a state conservator for years.

Now, in a letter, State Rep. Christina Morales and eight other representatives wrote:

There are numerous, credible reports concerning developments at the Houston Independent School District (HISD) following the Texas Education Agency (TEA) takeover and the installation of the current State Board of Managers. 

Houston Independent School District is now under the management of the Texas Education Agency. As such, it is imperative that the state assume full responsibility for HISD students and hold the board of managers accountable. As the State Board of Managers is not democratically elected, nor must they respond to those whom they now represent, parents in Houston have no choice in who is running their school district and no longer have a say in the education of their children at the local level. As their duly elected State Representatives, we must hold a hearing to learn more about these concerning reports and efforts to subvert state laws and requirements. 

Some of the concerns outlined in their letter include unaccredited teachers in classrooms and a plan to hire college students, apprentices, and learning coaches to teach while having a certified “teacher of record” to allow the district to circumvent a state law that requires teachers hold a bachelor’s degree and appropriate licensure. 

They also claim they have received complaints of at-risk students not receiving services and support as required by state law and an “unfunded mandate” requiring some campuses to pay for curriculum. 

The requested hearing is intended to address three main concerns: potential violations of state law, what evidence points to the new superintendent’s education model being effective, and students with disabilities not receiving state-mandated accommodations.

Democrat State Reps. Christina Morales, Ann Johnson, Jarvis Johnson, Penny Morales Shaw, Mary Ann Perez, Jon Rosenthal, Shawn Thierry, Hubert Vo, and Gene Wu have all signed onto the letter. 

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.