Ratings for the Meeting on August 8th
Last Thursday, the Houston ISD board of education met for its first regular public meeting of the school year. The meeting came just one day after the Texas Education Agency’s initial report on its investigation into board malfeasance reached the public. At 2 hours and 19 minutes, this was one of the shortest meetings in recent memory, due, in part, to the very strict speaking time allocated to each trustee. All of the trustees were fairly reserved in their comments about agenda items, and they managed to avoid the typical squabbles that we have been accustomed to seeing each month. Despite their relatively calm demeanor at the dais, trustee comments both during and outside of the meeting indicate that the board is still deeply divided in multiple ways. Given their limited comments – and the fact that “not arguing” is a low bar for demonstrating good governance practices – we have not seen any evidence of true collaboration, and several trustees have similar overall ratings this month.
We also want to note that we continue to give a low stewardship rating to the five trustees who chose to contract external attorneys to address the TEA investigation and potential sanctions. These additional lawyers – separate from the law firm that already works for the district – have billed over $37,000 for their services in April and May, and we anticipate a much higher number once the invoices for June and July are released. As always, we will share that information as soon as we get it.