Montgomery ISD dual language program consolidation proposal gets parent pushback for 'segregation'

Montgomery ISD is considering consolidating its dual language program to one campus, intended to give more support to the program's teachers, consolidate bus routes and trim from the budget.

The proposal is being considered following MISD's projections for a $4.4 million budget shortfall for the 2019-20 school year—but if the consolidation moves forward, it would begin during the 2020-21 school year, officials said.

"I do believe the move is vital to the continuance of the program [and] looking at a balanced budget," MISD Superintendent Beau Rees said at a June 25 board meeting.

The decision to wait another year comes after pushback from concerned parents who allege the consolidation is similar to segregation.

The district is planning a Sept. 4 public meeting at the MISD Education Support Center building at 20774 Eva St., Montgomery, to hear from parents.

Currently, the kindergarten through fifth grade dual language program is offered at Stewart Creek Elementary and Lincoln Elementary schools. The new proposal would be to offer dual language only at Montgomery Elementary School, busing all the dual language students there.

About one-third of the students in the program are primarily English language speakers who want to learn Spanish, officials said. Officials said it would be a dual language school within a school and would help consolidate bus routes to one point of drop-off and pickup.

Christina Guessagba Sato is a mother of three elementary school students enrolled at Stewart Creek in first, second and fifth grades.

"After relocating back home to Montgomery after many years in Europe, our children have benefited both academically and socially while facing a difficult transition period with both language barriers and sadly, blatant racism," Sato said in an email. "Administrators had decided to move 100% of DLP students, faculty and staff—which constitutes the majority of the already small population of ethnic students and staff at the SCE and LES campuses—creating a relocation that impacts more than 200 families."

She said the way this situation is being handled is disappointing and creates a concern for a lack of transparency between the administration and community members.

"While we realize the district is working at a large deficit and squeezing expenses, this should not come at the cost of racially cleansing two campuses of the minority student and faculty population and relocating them under one roof," Sato said in an email. "This kind of segregation is not acceptable."

Sato wrote a letter to district officials that said students read a letter finding out they would have to leave their schools on the bus ride home, arriving home in tears.

In the letter, Sato said the cultural ramifications of the consolidation would "essentially racially cleans[e] two elementary schools of most of the minority population among students and staff, ... segregat[ing] a majority of Title I and Hispanic students to one campus and creating a significant demographic disparity between MES, SCE and LES for years to come."

MISD board trustees asked the staff about the parents' concerns at the June 25 board meeting.

"All the parents are looking for answers right now, and the general consensus should be—the district is aware of your concerns, and we're going to meet with you in September," board Vice President Adam Simmons said.

MISD Director of Special Programs Jada Mullins on June 25 said Lincoln Elementary has 140 Spanish-speaking students, 68 of whom are enrolled in the dual language program, and Stewart Creek has 200 Spanish-speaking students with 58 enrolled in the program.

"The diversity of Stewart Creek and Lincoln does not lie solely in the dual language program," Mullins said. "I believe wholeheartedly to consolidate and grow it on one campus is going to improve it long-term and for the continuity of the program being used and rolled out consistently and effectively in all the classrooms."

After the meeting, Mullins said in an email the intention of the parent meeting is to provide information, answer questions and consider all aspects before making a change to the program's location.

"I believe having the program consolidated at one campus will result in our program having more fidelity, but I do realize there are many things to consider and decide on how to handle before we move forward with the change," Mullins said in the email. "I truly feel that consolidation will help to strengthen the program and allow teachers and students more support and just more capacity as a dual language family. Any time there is a big change such as this one, there are always growing pains and a lot of logistics to consider."
By Jules Rogers
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Jules Rogers has been covering community journalism and urban trade news since 2014. She moved to Houston in June 2018 to become an editor with Community Impact Newspaper after four years of reporting for various newspapers affiliated with the Portland Tribune in Oregon, including two years at the Portland Business Tribune. Before that, Jules spent time reporting for the Grants Pass Daily Courier in Southern Oregon. Her favorite beats to cover are business, economic development and urban planning.


MOST RECENT

Meet the candidates running for Place 1 on Montgomery City Council.
Carol Langley, Jenny Stewart on the ballot for Montgomery City Council Place 1

Carol Langley, Jenny Stewart on the ballot for Montgomery City Council Place 1

Meet the candidates running for Montgomery City Council Place 3 on the May 1 ballot.
Hear from candidates T.J. Wilkerson, John Champagne Jr. for Montgomery City Council Place 3

Hear from candidates T.J. Wilkerson, John Champagne Jr. for Montgomery City Council Place 3

Among data presented at the 2021 Economic Outlook Conference presented by The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, health care maintains its hold on the No. 1 spot among major nonretail employers. (Vanessa Holt/Community Impact Newspaper)
Health care continues to grow, energy sheds jobs: Takeaways from 2021 Economic Outlook Conference

Health care first overtook energy as the area’s No. 1 major nonretail employer in the 2020 report and grew to 28% of the region’s employees in the 2021 report.

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon begins rollout of statewide vaccination clinics for employees

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, which regulates groundwater usage in Montgomery County, is part of Groundwater Management Area 14. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
GMA 14 approves proposed desired future conditions; LSGCD objects to subsidence factor

On April 9, Groundwater Management Area 14 voted on its proposed long-term goal for the Gulf Coast Aquifer System.

Under the Texas Rule of Capture, the landowner is entitled to the water underneath their land. Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District, the entity that manages groundwater in Montgomery County, is prioritizing protecting these private property rights when it comes to making regulatory decisions. (Community Impact Newspaper)
Private property rights at heart of Montgomery County’s groundwater dispute

Recent regulatory decisions have highlighted differences in opinion on how groundwater should be managed.

(Community Impact Newspaper)
Stakeholders main issues with SJRA fall outside sunset review's scope

The sunset review states it does not consider policy issues—like the controversial Lake Conroe lowering—or topics under litigation.

Voters will cast ballots on May 1, and early voting is from April 19-27. MISD trustee Linda Porten is running uncontested. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Election Q&A: Montgomery ISD board of trustees, Position 4

Voters will cast ballots on May 1. Early voting is from April 19-27.

Federal funding is set aside for public schools to address effects of the pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Why Texas has not yet distributed $18 billion in federal funds intended for public schools

As budget decisions loom for school districts across Texas, state leaders are holding on to federal funds intended for public schools to use in addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gil Staley presented an annual report on major and mid-size employers in The Woodlands area at the Economic Outlook Conference on April 14. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Wildcat PPE furloughs employees as federal contracts stall

Gil Staley, CEO The Woodlands EDP, said the jobs will return when federal contracts are resolved.

Homes priced above $750,000, such as this one in the Heights, saw a surge in sales in March, with almost twice as many properties sold. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
Average Houston single-family home price jumps 20% in March

The average sale price for a home in March was $370,847.