The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has announced that the La Marque Independent School District will be annexed into the neighboring Texas City Independent School District as of July 1, 2016.
The agency took the action just a few weeks after state education commissioner Michael Williams revoked La Marque's accreditation and said the struggling district would close at the conclusion of the 2015-16 school year. The TEA concluded that La Marque has had substandard academic and financial performances for the past several years.
“I have investigated the educational and financial impact on Texas City ISD and find that the annexation will not substantially impair the ability of Texas City ISD to educate students located in the district before the annexation and to meet its financial obligations incurred before the annexation,” Williams said in a letter to Texas City Superintendent Cynthia Lusignolo.
La Marque district officials say they will fight the annexation. The school board has hired a lawyer to challenge the TEA action.
"It is our view that the Commissioner has acted improperly, and we will take all lawful measures to protect the district, students and employees," says La Marque Superintendent Terri Watkins.
Meanwhile, Texas City officials say they will go ahead with annexation plans.
“We respect the commissioner’s decision, and we are prepared to move forward with the annexation process in a way that benefits both communities and all students,” said Lusignolo.
On its web site, Texas City says that La Marque High School will remain open in 2016-17 and that students who now attend schools in La Marque will continue to attend a school in La Marque.
Texas City has a student enrollment of 6,357, compared with 2,306 students in La Marque, the TEA says. The agency will assist the districts in carrying out the annexation.
Some students have already moved into Texas City schools, the TEA says. According to student transfer reports submitted annually to the TEA, more than 220 students transferred out of the La Marque and into Texas City in 2014-2015. Almost 1,700 students transferred out of La Marque into other area school districts and charters last school year.