In Houston ISD, School Board Elections Matter More Than Ever

On Tuesday, November 7, 2023, four Houston ISD trustee seats will be on the ballot. Districts II, III, IV, and VIII are up for election this year representing the east side of the city. If you have tuned into the news over the last several months, you will have seen coverage of the state intervention in HISD. Although a Board of Managers is currently overseeing the district, HISD school board elections will still happen and they are critical for the future of the district.

HISD needs strong trustees when the state intervention ends

In Texas, state interventions are meant to be a temporary measure to course correct a district that has substantially strayed financially or academically from what is best for students. The state intervention will end and when it does, the district needs strong elected trustees to take up the helm. 

In 2019, HISD triggered a state law that requires the Commissioner of Education to intervene in a district if a campus has severely underperformed for five consecutive years. In addition to this state mandate, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) found instances of board misconduct, including a violation of the Open Meetings Act, and the district had already had a state conservator in place for over two years. 

After a years-long legal battle, Commissioner Morath announced the state was moving forward with its intervention in HISD in March 2023. The Board of Managers was formally installed on June 1, 2023 and will remain in place until the district has met three exit criteria: 1. HISD has no campus with a failing accountability rating for multiple years, 2. HISD’s special education program is in compliance with state and federal law, and 3. the HISD board implements procedures and conduct focused on student outcomes. 

TEA has a specific timeline it must follow for state interventions. Within two years, the commissioner must review the district to see if the exit criteria have been met. If they have, he must announce a timeline to transition back to an elected school board. This means that if HISD meets all three exit criteria by 2025, elected trustees will begin to regain control of the district, with three trustees at a time placed back on the school board. 

HISD trustees serve four-year terms. It is possible that trustees elected this year will be able to fully serve on the HISD school board within their term. We need trustees who can guide HISD through this transition. With four trustee seats up for election this November, our focus must be on supporting effective, student-focused trustees who will maintain the progress made toward strong academic accountability and special education compliance. 

Elected school board trustees remain a link to the community

Even if HISD does not yet meet the exit criteria for the intervention in a couple of years, highly effective elected trustees are still a crucial component of our education system. Elected trustees represent the values of the community and, even during a state intervention, they should still maintain those community ties.

TEA has been clear that throughout the intervention process elected trustees should serve in an advisory capacity for the Board of Managers and can be placed on community committees. Not only do elected trustees have institutional knowledge that they can pass on to the appointed board, they can continue to host community meetings in their districts to be able to share feedback from the community. Trustees have a duty to ensure they are fully representing their constituents, taking care to install communication processes that do not just target portions of the community. 

This November, when we take to the polls, we must also take care to ensure the trustees we elect will serve our students and our school district through the intervention and beyond. No matter our personal feelings on the intervention, we need trustees who are able to work with the current district administration in the best interest of our kids. On November 7, support trustee candidates who put students first.


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