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Appellate court blocks Texas from replacing Houston's school board

Jan. 4, 2021
The ruling upholds a lower court decision that found the Texas Education Agency overstepped its authority when it sought to take over the Houston district.

An appellate court in Texas has ruled that the state is still temporarily barred from taking over the Houston Independent School District.

The Texas Tribune reports that the Texas Third Court of Appeals, In a 2-1 ruling, upheld a temporary injunction that stops the Texas Education Agency (TEA) from replacing the elected school board in Houston with an appointed board of managers. The appeals court ruling sends the case back to the lower court that blocked the state's takeover effort last year.

The appellate judges said the Houston district had a "probable right to relief" because the TEA did not follow proper procedure and acted outside its authority as it moved to sanction the district.

[FROM 2019: Houston district sues Texas Education Agency to stop ouster of board]

The TEA plans to appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court.

“While the Agency is disappointed with the split ruling from the 3rd Court of Appeals, this is only a temporary setback," the agency said in a statement. "We are confident that the Texas Supreme Court will uphold the Commissioner’s legally authorized actions to improve the educational outcomes for the 200,000-plus public school students of Houston.”

Texas announced plans in November 2019 to seize control of Houston district, citing the longstanding academic failure of Wheatley High School and the school board's alleged violations of state law. The Houston district sued, arguing that the TEA had overstepped its authority.

In January 2020, Travis County District Judge Catherine Mauzy granted Houston a temporary injunction blocking Texas from replacing the school board.

The state challenged that ruling before the Third Court of Appeals, arguing it had acted within its legal authority.

But the appellate court's ruling said Texas' "proposed actions are not authorized by the Education Code."

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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