HOUSTON — "Unfortunate." That's what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is calling the state takeover of Houston ISD.
The governor spoke about the situation during an event in Austin, saying that Texas has an obligation to its students and should come together to reinvent the district so that kids are provided a better quality education.
"There has been a long-time failure by HISD and the victims of that failure are the students," Abbott said.
After weeks of speculation and rumors, the TEA confirmed Wednesday that it will be taking over the district and replacing its current superintendent and elected trustees as early as June.
The threat of a state takeover was triggered in 2019 after Wheatley High School reached five consecutive years of unacceptable ratings and there was alleged misconduct by previous board members. Since then, Wheatley has improved to a C, but the TEA takeover was already put into motion.
Abbott said the takeover will allow HISD to be set on a course so that the district will no longer fail its students.
"But know this, when I talk about what we're gonna do going forward, some have suggested this will be used for parental empowerment and things like that," Abbott said. "All of that is completely separate from what's happening with HISD."
Watch Abbott's full reaction to the TEA takeover in the video below:
What happens now?
According to TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, there will be no immediate changes to HISD, though Superintendent Millard House II and the current trustees of HISD's board will eventually be replaced by the TEA.
"It’s important to frame this the way the law is structured. I’m not the one leading HISD,” Morath told KHOU 11 anchor Len Cannon. “What we’re doing under this intervention is we are choosing nine individuals who are Houstonians who will be the Board of Managers and they will assume all the powers and duties of the elected school board, so it’s essentially a shift in local control from the current locally elected board to an appointed board of nine. They then have all of the duties and obligations to govern the school system like any governing body in the State of Texas, so they’ll oversee the superintendent. They’ll set strategic direction. They’ll set budget. Their job as a team is to be focused like a laser on the needs of students above all else.”
Morath said an application process is open now. He'll get the final say on who sits on the Board of Managers and who will be the next superintendent. It's unclear if any teachers will be let go.
No schools will close, according to the TEA. Previously, there were concerns that the consistently underperforming Worthing High School might be shut down.