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Elementary and Primary Education
Houston ISD Board of Education
by Garrett Bryce
Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education took no vote on Tuesday regarding a partnership with Energized for STEM Academy, Inc. for operation of 10 low-performing schools pursuant to state legislation, in a meeting that ended in clearing the board meeting room due to disruptions from those in attendance.

The board, in a news release issued today, has announced that there are no plans to hold a vote to pursue the proposal, nor does the district intend to submit plans for such a partnership to the Texas Education Agency.

"We are not bringing another partnership proposal to the Board, nor will there be another meeting to consider partnerships for the 10 schools,” said Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan. “Instead, we will continue to reinforce our commitment to helping students, staff, and families of our Achieve 180 schools continue the hard work they’ve done this year to transform their campuses and increase student achievement.” News Release

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner issued a statement urging the board not to consider partnerships with charter agencies such as Energized for STEM Academy, and urged a state waiver to the requirement for one year.

"“HISD should not submit a partnership plan at this time," Tuner said.  "I would ask the community to recognize the difficult position and challenges the board of trustees faces in balancing its books after recapture, Hurricane Harvey, and the abrupt departure of former Superintendent Carranza." News Release

During the meeting, Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones instructed police officers to clear the board meeting room after chants and other disruptions were made by those in the audience. Meeting Video

The district issued a statement regarding the matter:

"Per board policy BED LOCAL, audience members shall not be disruptive or abusive during the board meeting.  While the district appreciates and shares the passion the community has for the students and schools and welcomes public input, audience members are expected to be respectful and observe decorum so that their views may be heard and appreciated."

"During Tuesday night’s workshop, after continuous disruption and multiple outbursts from members of the audience, and after several verbal requests from the Board President to adhere to the rules, attendees were instructed to clear the room and called for a recess. Many refused to leave and a scuffle ensued. An HISD police officer sustained minor injuries."

Later, the board issued a statement that two people arrested during the meeting are not being charged and are being released.

"Based on last night’s events, HISD PD has reviewed the scenarios of the arrests of the two citizens, and we have conferred with DA Ogg.  After this review of both being charged with criminal trespassing and resisting arrest, the DA and HISD PD have agreed with the DA’s office on the retraction of charges.

"No further action is needed and the two detainees are being released now."

Skillern-Jones also issued a statement regarding the disruption at the meeting.

"I fully support the right to protest by anyone," Skillern-Jones said. "Yesterday, the Board had to deliberate the educational trajectory of 6,000 students and the fate of 10 schools - one of the most important decisions in HISD history. This requires and deserves to be done in an environment where everyone can be heard and respected.

"We ask that a few simple rules be followed to allow us to focus on making these decisions. After repeated outbursts, interruptions and refusals to leave the podium, I asked our officers to clear the room for a recess. I hoped we could calm the tension and return for an orderly meeting. Unfortunately, the situation escalated and subsequently caused many unintended consequences.

"I'm saddened at this outcome as it was not at all what I wanted. I take responsibility for calling this recess and am regretful it only created more discord. The one positive result from the chaos is that we did postpone a hasty decision, gained some additional perspective and broadened our considerations. I thank the people who have called me on the carpet and am humble enough to accept their criticism as well as thank those who have called and texted their support and understanding. I appreciate both. In addition, I have confirmed the charges against the 2 ladies taken into custody have been retracted and they are being released."

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