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Spring Branch ISD becomes first Houston district to join TEA lawsuit

This lawsuit is over the Texas Education Agency's grading system for academic performance.

HOUSTON — Spring Branch ISD held a special board meeting Tuesday morning to decide whether the district will join a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency over school accountability ratings.

This lawsuit is over the TEA’s grading system. The TEA issues a letter grade “A” to “F” every year to rate public schools’ academic performance. According to the agenda item up for a vote, the TEA changed its rating system for the 2022-2023 school year.

Spring Branch ISD voted in favor of joining the suit, making it the first Houston district to do so.

SBISD said districts were not told about the new set of rules ahead of last school year. They said they still don’t know the methodologies used to determine grades.

Because of that, SBISD joined other school districts in the lawsuit challenging the lack of transparency in this process.

The TEA has addressed this so-called “refresh” of the system on its website saying it addresses post-pandemic student needs.

The TEA said, “A refresh of the accountability system will allow Texas to leverage lessons learned over the last five years to improve the rigor, transparency, and fairness of the accountability system.”

Spring Branch ISD on the other hand said it could have re-allocated resources to meet state standards if it was known what they were ahead of time.

The district is taking action before the new school ratings are released, which is expected to happen later this month.

In August, a Harris County judge granted a temporary restraining order over a lawsuit against Houston ISD filed by the Houston Federation of Teachers.

The ruling means that the school district, at least temporarily, has to go back to its original teacher evaluation system. 

HFT argues that HISD did not go through the proper channels to approve the new evaluation system, which decides future teacher employment and pay.

On September 11, there will be another hearing where the Houston Federation of Teachers will ask for another hold on the system until their lawsuit plays out.

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