HOUSTON — Thursday night's Houston ISD meeting focused on the new "District of Innovation" plan that has been pushed by state-appointed Superintendent Mike Miles.
Opposition was loud and passionate and they said they're not backing down.
"This is not a meeting conducted in good faith, this is just another box being checked in the process," HISD parent Karina Quesada said.
It's a process that the state-appointed HISD board unanimously voted to move forward with, allowing the district to become a District of Innovation, or DOI. Click here for more information on the districts of innovation designation.
Thursday night's vote was the second one needed to create an appointed committee to examine the outcomes of becoming a DOI, a designation that more than 960 school districts across the state fall under. It allows more than 60 exemptions from state laws over school operations.
"One of the reasons for doing DOI, in the end of the day, is to make sure that kids are first and that we improve the quality of instruction so that we can prepare kids for the year 2035 and also close the achievement gap," Miles said.
The decision was met with chaos from those opposing the measure. District police were even called in to remove a person from the meeting.
"You don't care what parents, teachers and community members think," Quesada said.
The exemptions range from lengthening the school year beyond the current 172 days to bypassing laws related to teacher certifications and class sizes.
"Extending the school year is nothing ... 13 days? You think that's going to cure a seventh-grader who hasn't been able to read since third grade?" Houston Educators Association's Michelle Williams said.
Miles and the school board have not identified which exemptions they'll pursue. They said they wanted to form a committee to come up with the specifics.
District of Innovation committee members:
- Edgardo Colon
- Lauren Fontaine
- Janette Garza Lindner
- Bill Horwath
- Jessica Morffi
- Uche Ndefo
- Theresa Tran
"What exemptions from the Texas Education Code are you going to request? The only exemption you've disclosed is a change to the school calendar because you know you'll get less pushback on that than if you tell us all the exemptions you actually plan to take," Quesada said.
In addition to the person who was kicked out of Thursday night's meeting, several other people were warned about their behavior.