HISD Rejects Another New Source of Revenue, For Now

Is the Houston ISD Police Department about to expand its drug interdiction efforts to include the seizure of teachers' and students' cars and trucks?

No, HISD has no plans for that, a laughing district spokesman Norm Uhl said this morning.

Last night the board approved two measures: an HISD officer will now be part of the local FBI task force and an HISD officer will join a DEA task force, Uhl said. They will share information about gang and drug activities in the area, just as other local law enforcement agencies do, he said.

Houston Attorney Maria Elena Castellanos weighed in on both measures at the meeting last night and called establishing connections between the HISD police department and the FBI and DEA "a slippery slope."

She warned that teachers and students could see their constitutional rights violated and said the district has already been laughed at enough for the controversial drug seizures it carried out last year.

"It appears as though you're trying to get new revenues by HISD taking property away from our students, our teachers," Castellanos told trustees. (Law enforcement agencies are allowed to confiscate personal property used in drug offences.) She also referred to "HPD and law enforcement agencies, they've got all the power they need" and spoke against "an abuse of police power on campus."

Two trustees -- president Greg Meyers and Larry Marshall -- gamely responded with testimonials to the HISD police and said it was all about safety.

Trustee Diana Davila threw in a pitch for funding to find the police "a nice home...They really deserve a better facility."

According to Uhl, HISD police were quartered at Plum Creek, which flooded during Tropical Storm Allison. Then they were temporarily housed at the Kay Ongoing School for Pregnant Girls (now Harper Alternative.)

But their latest, and presumably permanent, home is in a fixed-up Thompson Elementary on Tampa in the OST area of town.

So either Davila doesn't know about that or doesn't consider it adequate.

Then again, if the district does decide to move its police force to even better digs, and needs to raise money for the project, Maria Elena Castellanos knows where they can get it.

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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing