TEA Head: Final Decision on Charter Providers for Troubled North Forest ISD Rests with HISD

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams made it clear in his confirmation hearing this morning that the future of North Forest Independent School District would lie with Houston Independent School District if his decision for closure is upheld.

The Texas Senate has to confirm Williams, an appointee of Gov. Rick Perry. This morning's appearance was before the Senate Nominations Committee, where senators grilled him on topics like testing, funding and closures. Chief among those closures is the potential closure of the North Forest Independent School District and its subsequent annexation by Houston Independent School District.

Chief Deputy Commissioner Lizzette Gonzalez Reynolds, who heard the North Forest appeal, has promised a decision on April 1. Williams said he stood ready to immediately begin work on the transition, even if North Forest chooses one final appeal with the State Office of Administrative Hearings.

"Assuming (Reynolds) affirms my decision, I would immediately sit down with the officials at Houston ISD and hammer out how they want to proceed with providing learning for the 7,200 youngsters currently being served by that district," Williams said. "There is a proposal from a group of charter schools who would like to be the alternative management team. I have had conversations with them, but I have yet to see a fully fleshed out plan for them."

Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, noted that an unnamed foundation was more than willing to put up substantial money to make that charter proposal happen, an option he wanted to make sure was not overlooked by the Texas Education Agency. Williams said his goal was to moderate between the charters and HISD.

"I have had conversations with those three, four charter schools," Williams said. "I have asked them if they are interested in speaking with the superintendent, so I look forward to trying to moderate a conversation between them."

Williams reiterated that the plans the charter coalition had provided to him, as yet, had not been substantial enough to provide him with a level of comfort.

Williams promised Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, that he would have objective criteria, and possibly a matrix of options, for moving forward with a plan for North Forest. He predicted, if his decision was upheld, that HISD should be well on its way to creating a transition plan by June or July.

Tomorrow marks the first substantial discussion, in the House, debating high school diploma and assessment standards. Williams told the committee he considered eight to be the optimum number of end-of-course exams for high school graduation, noting a broader range of courses and years than the proposed bill up for consideration on Tuesday, House Bill 5.

Follow Houston Press on Facebook and on Twitter @HairBallsNews or @HoustonPress.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.