The lineup of guest speakers ready to once again argue before the Houston ISD school board that Dodson Elementary should be saved never got their chance Thursday night.
In an unexpected move, Houston ISD trustee Harvin Moore made a motion that "the item be tabled indefinitely." As people throughout the room exchanged a group "huh?" the school board members quickly voted.
The result was a 5-3 win for Moore's motion. What it means, we were assured, is that Dodson Elementary's closure is a done deal and that (hushed tones here) it can never be brought up again.
The vote signaled the defeat of Board President Juliet Stipeche's attempt to reverse last month's 5-4 decision to shutter Dodson when she had a change of heart after hearing additional information about the neighborhood and school. She was able to reopen the matter with the help of trustees Wanda Adams and Rhonda Skillern-Jones, who were the only two to vote with her Thursday night.
Nineteen people had been scheduled to speak about Dodson. Instead, several of them left the room when their comments were rendered moot by the vote to table, a few escorted by HISD police officers after deciding to share their feelings about an upcoming "day of reckoning" with the audience.
Houston Federation of Teachers President Gayle Fallon said after the meeting that she felt the board action was legal trickery and that trustees had completely blown off the community and its feelings.
In an earlier agenda workshop this week, Moore had argued that board votes had to stand if the trustees' democratic process was to work at all. It was clear Thursday night that most of his fellow trustees agreed with him or just didn't want to wade in again.
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In other action, the board listened to a number of speakers - although several who'd signed up didn't show - about whether the principal at Patterson Elementary is a competent inspiration or just a terrible bully who has favorites and picks on others.
The board voted to begin termination proceedings against three teachers at Atherton Elementary who allegedly gave "improper assistance" to students during their Grade 5 STAAR reading and math tests.
And the fact that HISD is holding school on Good Friday, a day sacred to many Christians, especially Roman Catholics got discussed, accompanied by a concern by one speaker that HISD honors fall holidays that are really Jewish holidays. Ahem.
Trustee Anna Eastman commented at the end of the meeting that the district might ought to revisit its plan to hold school on Good Friday next year, and pointed out that as a mother of children who take off on Jewish religious days, that parents can get their children excused from school for religious reasons even if the district decides not to declare it an official holiday.