HISD board votes not to seek private partnerships for underperforming schools

It was another long night at HISD headquarters on Thursday where board members faced more criticism from the public. The fate of underperforming schools and gang violence were the hot topics.

“Nothing matters more than these kids breathing. We have a serious gang problem,“ said one parent.

Another told the board, “you didn’t realize that there was a true gang problem until the problem was brought to the doors of River Oaks.”

Things escalated quickly once the subject of possibly entering a partnership with private companies to run underperforming schools came up.

“You’re telling me that my only option as a city resident is Dan Patrick and Greg Abbot taking over the schools? That the nine of you are going to look in the mirror. What’s the purpose of the autonomy of the board?” said one attendee.

"Turning HISD schools over to private partners destabilizes the educational environment for students, it puts teachers and staff‘s jobs at risk, it reduces transparency and it reinforces the deep systemic divide that affords predominately white and affluent communities some measure of democratic control while denying that to Black and Brown and working class communities,“ said another parent.

Some board members sided with the public.

Elizabeth Santos said, “We can’t abandon our commitment to our communities. Especially based on a flood accountability system.“

Others wanted to consider the choice.

"It opens us up to explore options, they would still be our kids, they would still be our schools. I have no interest in giving our kids away,“ said Sue Deigaard.

The crowd would turn their back towards the board and heated debates ensued before the board finally made their decision-- a 5-4 vote to not seek partnership.

"I am so incredibly grateful right now that our children get another chance at success because we almost lost four schools tonight," parent Kandice Webber says.

Now it’s up to the performance of those schools. If they don’t meet the standard in 2019, they may face closure. Or the state can step in and get rid of the current board members.