UPDATE: March 16, 2023: In a statement shared with K-12 Dive on Wednesday, Houston Independent School District Superintendent Millard House II said he will spend the remainder of the school year focused on working with the district's board of trustees and the Texas Education Agency to ensure the school system makes a smooth transition to state control.
"Today's announcement does not discount the gains we have made district-wide," House said. Over the course of his 19 months leading Houston ISD, House said, "the hard work of our students, teachers, and staff" helped 40 out of 50 schools rise above D or F state accountability ratings, and the district's first five-year accountability plan had been developed in collaboration with parents, community members and local leaders.
The Texas Education Agency plans to replace both the school board and superintendent of Houston Independent School District, one of the nation's largest school systems, in a takeover officially announced by Commissioner of Education Mike Morath on Wednesday.
The decision, announced in a letter to HISD's board members and superintendent, comes after a prolonged legal battle that began in 2019 when Morath first notified Houston that TEA intended to appoint new leadership. That decision was spurred by the district's "inability to address long-standing academic deficiencies" and the board's "breakdown in governance," Morath said at the time.
However, the takeover was stalled by multiple legal challenges from the district, which led to a temporary injunction in 2020. That injunction was most recently vacated in January, finally giving TEA the green light to move forward with taking over the Houston ISD.
Statement from the HISD Board of Education. pic.twitter.com/Vmj3NWCnZ8— Houston ISD (@HoustonISD) March 15, 2023
In Wednesday's letter, the commissioner described the intervention as "necessary" due to "consecutive unacceptable academic accountability ratings" received by Wheatley High School, among other reasons.
"While the current Board of Trustees has made progress, systemic problems in Houston ISD continue to impact district students," Morath said.
Morath plans to replace the current superintendent, Millard House II, and board after June 1.
Houston ISD has 276 campuses and more than 194,000 students, making it the eighth largest school district in the nation, according to the district’s website.