TEA recommends Houston school board be replaced

The elected school board for the Houston school district may soon be on the way out after the Texas Education Agency found several examples of alleged misconduct, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The TEA’s six-month investigation found that the board had violated a state open-meetings law, influenced vendor contracts inappropriately and made false statements to investigators. TEA is recommending a state-appointed board of managers take over leadership of the district due to the findings.

The newspaper reported that Houston school officials have until Aug. 15 to respond and that Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath will shortly thereafter issue a final decision, including on whether to replace the school board.

TEA Special Investigations Unit Director Jason Hewitt wrote in his recommendation that school board members “demonstrated inability to appropriately govern, inability to operate within the scope of their authority, circumventing the authority of the superintendent, and inability to ensure [that] proper contract procurement laws are followed.”

The document is not yet public, but has been given to Houston board members and Interim Superintendent Grenita Latham. A source gave the Chronicle a copy of the report.

Houston is the state’s largest school district, with about 210,000 children attending more than 280 schools. The newspaper pointed out that TEA has taken over several school districts in recent years, but none anywhere close to the size of Houston’s.

The district has faced the loss of local control for months, as its schools have received sanctions for chronically low test scores.

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, told the Chronicle that he’s convinced the board will be replaced. 

“This is a long time coming, and there were many, many times that the board could have made decisions for this not to occur,” he said.

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