HOUSTON — In the wake of the state takeover of HISD, the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice filed a discrimination complaint against the Texas Education Agency, its commissioner Mike Morath and Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
The coalition alleges that Texas is intentionally discriminating against the district and wants the federal government to withhold money given to the state for education until the takeover is off the table.
“I have yet to see a community such as Houston run away from a fight," Jonny Mata, presiding officer of the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice, said.
The coalition said the TEA is in violation of Title VI by “discriminating against Houston Independent School District in deciding to take over control of HISD's duly elected board of trustees.”
“It’s about money, it was about politics, and it is a power grab," Jackie Anderson, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has been in contact with the Department of Education because she too agrees that the takeover is a deliberate attack not only against HISD but public school education.
“Right now, public school education is under siege in Texas," Lee said.
Some stakeholders are hoping the federal government removes state resources until the issue of the takeover is addressed.
“These people need to understand they’re working for us, our taxpayers and they gotta listen to the will of the people," Mata said.
According to the Department of Justice, the most common form of relief sought and obtained through a Title VI Private Right of Action is an injunction ordering a recipient to do or to stop doing something.
In a statement the U.S. Department of Education spokesperson said:
"Our team is in contact with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee's office. We cannot prejudge the effect of state and local decisions that have not yet been implemented. At the U.S. Department of Education, our most important focus is to ensure all students receive high-quality education. We always value and encourage community input in education decisions, and every school district should ensure that community rights are respected."
Abbott, Morath nor the TEA responded to a request for comment.