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.


Texas Medical Center continued to see week-over-week decreases in the total number of active COVID-19 hospitalizations but also saw a significant increase in patient deaths, the medical center reported May 29. (Community Impact staff)
Texas Medical Center sees another week-over-week decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Texas Medical Center continued to see week-over-week decreases in the total number of active COVID-19 hospitalizations but also saw a significant increase in patient deaths, the medical center reported May 29.

FM 1486 will be closed between Jackson and Sandy Hill roads from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. May 30-31. (Courtesy Fotolia)
FM 1486 closure in Montgomery County scheduled for May 30-31

FM 1486 will be closed between Jackson and Sandy Hill roads from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. May 30-31.

The Willie's Grill & Icehouse restaurant in Copperfield is temporarily closed after reopening in mid-May. (Courtesy Willie's Grill & Icehouse Copperfield)
Study predicts coronavirus spike and other top Houston-area stories

Read some of the most popular Houston-area content on Community Impact Newspaper’s website from this week.

The syrup drums being repurposed into rain barrels were donated from Coca-Cola. (Courtesy Galveston Bay Foundation)
Galveston Bay Foundation to host virtual, drive-thru rain barrel workshop

The Kemah-based nature conservation nonprofit is hosting a rain barrel workshop this weekend for Houstonians thirsting for a way to help conserve the community’s water supply.

The Texas Renaissance Festival is set to resume Oct. 3 with safety guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. (Courtesy Texas Renaissance Festival)
Texas Renaissance Festival announces tentative modifications for 2020 season

In a May 28 statement, General Manager Joseph Bailey said new safety measures are in the works to comply with governmental recommendations, and an operating plan is expected to be reviewed with officials in June.

Riva Row Boat House
GALLERY: Restrictions in Montgomery County easing, but residents remain cautious

Click through this photo gallery to see how residents are slowly adapting to life during a pandemic.

Conroe ISD will distribute meals until the end of June. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Conroe ISD to continue meal distributions through June

The district will offer meal pickups Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m.-noon through June.

Lone Star College plans to partially open 26 buildings beginning June 1. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lone Star College System discusses reopening plan for June 1

Lone Star College plans to partially open 26 of its buildings June 1, prioritizing health science buildings.

Outdoor venues in all Texas counties will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity starting May 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spectators to be welcomed back to Texas outdoor sporting events May 31 at 25% of venue capacity

Venue owners must operate under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing.

Montgomery County has more physicians and registered nurses per 100,000 residents than the nearby Harris County. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Health Care Snapshot 2020: Montgomery County improves state ranking for number of physicians, registered nurses

Montgomery County has more physicians and registered nurses per 100,000 residents than nearby Harris County, according to 2019 data from Texas Health and Human Services.