HISD removes Administrators and Teachers at Eastwood Academy

Eastwood's principal is the latest to be removed.
Eastwood's principal is the latest to be removed. Screenshot

As the removal and reassignments of principals and teachers continues in the Houston ISD, leaders and teachers at Eastwood Academy are the latest educators to be removed from their positions — amid increasing complaints that teachers are being bullied, with infraction demerits handed out without explanation,

On Monday, Eastwood Academy saw the removal of Principal Dr, Ana Aguilar as well as the school's  assistant principal, a counselor and four teachers and as has become the norm in Superintendent Mike Miles' administration, this is done without warning or explanation to the people at the school or the community at large, teachers say.

According to a message accompanying a screen capture of a room with a Pride flag in it, this was done "for providing a safe space who students who came out as LGBTQ."

Starting in 2011, HISD enacted specific regulations prohibiting discrimination against students and staff because of their gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. This passed on a unanimous vote by the elected school board at that time. This was later updated to include trans students and teachers.

HISD's press office did issue the following statement Tuesday:

"HISD takes student safety in our schools very seriously. The staff transitions at Eastwood Academy were made after an investigation into incidents at the campus. While we cannot comment further on the incidents or the investigation, we will notify the school community as soon as we have identified a new principal."

And this is the message that the press office says went out to the Eastwood community on Monday:

This is an important message for Eastwood Academy families from HISD Central Division Superintendent Dr. [Luz] Martinez. To ensure a high-quality education environment, HISD is making changes effectively immediately at Eastwood Academy. Dr. Aguilar will no longer serve as principal and there will be several additional staff transitions. The district is in the process of identifying an exceptional education leader for Eastwood Academy and will be in touch with more information soon."

Whatever the reason for the upheaval at Eastwood, it's understandable that HISD has to be careful about what it says about matters involving personnel. At this point, however, many staffers and the community who might be inclined to understand this and give the district the benefit of the doubt, are not inclined to do so because of all the other changes in personnel since and right before the start of the year.

The Eastwood action follows closely on the heels of last week's removal of the principal at Middle College High School's Fraga campus. Federico Hernandez was removed from his principalship and re-assigned to the Central Office although one teacher said he resigned instead.

HISD Executive Director Dr. Hilda Arnold has been sitting in the principal's office at Fraga. A teacher says they were told they're going to get an internal principal but they don't know when. 

"They told us the reason he got fired is Dr. Arnold was observing and a teacher was sitting down during the lesson because the teacher has a degenerative disease. And then the principal got written up because a teacher was teaching from the back of the classroom. But we don't know which teacher because that's not a real thing."

Arnold had been on the campus every day, the teacher said. "It was little picky things. Not anything to  do with instruction because we're all highly rated teachers.

A lot of the kids at Fraga come from Eastwood, the teacher said. Fraga is a small alternative campus and when kids get in trouble at their home schools or fall behind and want to make up credits to graduate earlier, they transfer to Fraga, the teacher said. Over the last three years, Fraga moved from a D rating to an A+, the teacher said.

Students at Fraga had planned a Friday protest, the teacher said. Martinez (who was notably involved in the terminations of two teachers at the Cage/Chrysalis campus in September for asking questions in what was considered an insubordinate manner) showed up and talked to the students and after that "they called all the police. There were like 10 cop cars here when they heard about it. So instead of a protest, students just left."

The only explanation of why Fraga's principal was removed, the teacher said, was "He wasn't doing what we told him to do."
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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.
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