HISD Trustee Santos Calls For Board President Skillern-Jones to Exit Stage Left

Rhonda Skillern Jones didn't like what she was hearing at that April meeting. Things haven't gotten any better for her.
Rhonda Skillern Jones didn't like what she was hearing at that April meeting. Things haven't gotten any better for her. HISD TV screen capture

Well that rollicking band of elected officials known as the Houston ISD Board of Trustees, took it to another level of legendary moments Thursday when new trustee Elizabeth Santos publicly called for embattled school board president Rhonda Skillern-Jones to step down as president.

Santos did this in the form of a post on the HISD Parent Visionaries Facebook page. While she hasn't been alone in calling for the change, it is the first time one of Skillern-Jones' peers did so in such a public fashion.

Contacted Thursday, Skillern-Jones declined comment "at this time."  She is, of course, under fire for clearing the room at the last contentious April school board meeting and ending the meeting before any vote could be taken on what to do with the ten failing schools that may be taken over by the Texas Education Agency. Some protesters were dragged down the hallways of the Hattie Mae White administration building and two people were arrested.

Charges were later dropped and Skillern-Jones issued a public apology but clearly for many people, this was not enough. The school board was given months upon months to come up with a plan to present the TEA about how it would handle these ten schools. They came up with next to nothing, only a partnership with Energized for STEM Academy Inc., a firm that had never handled that many students.

There were also concerns about who is on the governing board of STEM, namely former HISD trustee Paula Harris, who while on the HISD board was accused of singling out friends for contracts with the district. Another STEM board member, former TSU president James Douglas (now NAACP Houston Branch president) had a history while heading the TSU law school of fighting with the then university president and was accused of not correcting problems at the school.

So the board essentially threw up its hands — pledging of course that it will continue to apply its best efforts to saving these troubled schools — throwing itself upon the mercy or at least decision-making powers of the TEA. That's on the whole school board, not just Skillern-Jones.

Say Skillern-Jones does step down as president. She'll still be on the board unless she gives that up as well. While it was her fellow school board members who selected her as president, it was the voters in her district who elected her to represent them.

If she stays on the board, how does that work in her relationship with Santos? One thing this board doesn't need much more of is the inability of board members to get along or in some cases, even be civil to each other. It sounds even more excruciating than usual.

Here's the Santos post:

Screengrab from HISD Parent Visionaries Facebook page

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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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