Ratings for the Meeting on October 11th
In lieu of the “Highlights” and “Areas of improvement” that we normally point out for each trustee after public meetings, Houston GPS has decided to comment on what happened at the October 11th Houston ISD board meeting.
At the October meeting, five trustees voted to remove Dr. Grenita Lathan as interim superintendent and replace her with Dr. Abelardo Saavedra (HISD superintendent, 2004-2009). Trustee Diana Dávila proposed this surprise motion as the board was deciding on items from closed session, and it was immediately seconded by Trustee Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca Ocampo. Five trustees: Dávila, Santos, Lira, Sung, and Flynn Vilaseca – supported this motion. The change was scheduled to take place on Monday, October 15. The entire meeting – and especially this vote – was incredibly contentious and yet another indication of how broken our HISD board is. None of the trustees has ever publicly discussed hiring Dr. Saavedra, and he was never brought in to be interviewed. During the meeting, Trustee Dávila stated that she had talked to him privately and that he had agreed to the terms she proposed in her motion.
The events of this board meeting displayed a full array of toxicity on this board. Some board members were offensive, and others demonstrated a clear lack of transparency. By publicly discussing items from private conversations and executive session, Trustees Jones and Adams violated standard board protocol, and the ultimate vote split largely along racial lines. This board meeting resulted in no winners, but only losers: the Houston ISD community, parents, teachers, voters, tax-payers, and most importantly, children.
On Sunday, October 14th, the board members met for a retreat, and Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones stated that they, “decided to go in a different direction.” Dr. Saavedra withdrew his acceptance of the interim position, and Dr. Lathan will remain the superintendent in Houston ISD. The trustees will hold a press conference at 5:00pm on Monday, October 15.
Houston children deserve so much more. Houston GPS’s mission is “to increase public understanding of the roles and responsibilities of school board members and to hold members accountable for high performance.” During this critical time, we need you – the constituents of Houston – to work with us to ensure that the school board will act in a way that is best for students. There are so many ways, small or large, to be involved and help make a difference. Now is the time to be involved and stand up for the children in HISD.