The Houston school district has moved closer to ceding local control to the state because one of its schools received a seventh consecutive failing grade.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the latest acccountability ratings from the Texas Education Agency show that Wheatley High School, a 92-year-old campus, again failed to meet state academic standards.
That is likely to trigger a state law that calls for severe sanctions. Barring a successful appeal of Wheatley’s failing grade, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath must close the campus or replace the school board.
Morath has not said which option he would choose, but his administration has strongly suggested it would strip power from the Houston school board and appoint a new governance team.
As sanctions against the district became more likely, educators and elected officials heralded Houston's B grade for districtwide academic performance, as well as Kashmere High School's meeting state standards for the first time in 11 years.
Still, the success of Kashmere and many of the district’s 280 schools — nearly 80 percent earned an A, B or C grade — came with the knowledge that major changes likely are coming to the district.
If Morath opts to replace the nine-person school board, state law mandates he select new board members and pick the district’s superintendent. The upheaval would mark another disruption for the district, which has been roiled by turmoil since the departure of Superintendent Richard Carranza in March 2018 and a since-rescinded vote to replace Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan in October 2018.
The possibility of sanctions tied to chronically low-performing schools has hung over Houston for two consecutive years.
Accountability ratings, including Wheatley’s failing grade, will not become official until an appeals process wraps up in November or early December.
In the meantime, district leaders will continue to carry out their Achieve 180 turnaround plan, which provides additional training and bonuses to staff working in lower-performing campuses.