HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Boardroom bedlam and a racially charged coup d'etat - low points in what's proven a year steeped in dysfunction for the state's largest school district - Houston ISD.
"I'm through with them. I think the public is through with them too. It's time for them to lead or get out of the way," said State Senator Paul Bettencourt, a Republican from Houston.
Bettencourt, widely considered among the most influential lawmakers in Austin, says he's seen enough and is moving to drastically alter governance of Houston ISD - a district still facing potential takeover by the Texas Education Agency.
"We've seen two board meetings when two different board factions are hurling racial epitaphs at each other. This type of behavior is inexcusable," said Bettencourt.
Ahead of the upcoming legislative session, Bettencourt says he is filing a bill that would reduce from nine to five the number of trustees chosen from single member districts and authorize election of four "at-large" board members from throughout the district to fill out the slate.
"What we have now is a competence problem and we've got to get people that want to be competent trustees that look for the entire HISD system and not just their small piece of it," said Bettencourt.
And that's not all, Bettencourt is calling on TEA Commissioner Mike Morath to investigate multiple board members or violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act in connection with the failed attempt in October to replace acting Superintendent Grenita Lathan with former Superintendent Abe Saavadra.
"You can't have elected officials acting this way and if they do there has to be some penalty for it. It's not partisan. It's not ideological. It's not where you live, what you look like, it's just pure competence," said Bettencourt.
FOX 26 reached out to HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan. She declined comment.
The Texas Legislature gavels into its 86th regular session January 8.