Houston ISD teachers union seeks federal intervention to block state takeover

The Houston teachers union has joined a lawsuit filed by Houston ISD trustees to block the state takeover. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Houston teachers union has joined a lawsuit filed by Houston ISD trustees to block the state takeover. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Houston teachers union has joined a lawsuit filed by Houston ISD trustees to block the state takeover. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)

In a lawsuit filed Nov. 19, the Houston Federation of Teachers is asking a federal judge to block the state takeover of the Houston ISD, saying the move disenfranchises people based on race and national origin, but union leaders also cited fears that a takeover could lead to shuttering some campuses in favor of charter schools.

“The state’s action to take over the HISD is flagrantly unconstitutional and has nothing to do with giving kids a strong public education,” union President Zeph Capo said in a news release. “Gov. Abbott and Education Commissioner Mike Morath will do just about anything to give private charter operators a chance to get their hands on our schools—even violate the state and U.S. constitutions. We can’t allow our government officials to unconstitutionally marginalize black and brown children, deny them their right to a quality public education, or defy the voice of voters who have just elected new school board members."

Three educators are part of the teachers union's suit—Jackie Anderson, Maxie Hollingsworth and Daniel Santos—allowing the case to be made that their voting rights would be unfairly harmed by the state's action. The lawsuit also joins one filed by the HISD board of trustees, which has a hearing set for Dec. 5.

"Everyone’s vote should count. My choice should be respected. To say that it doesn’t matter is a violation of my right as a citizen,” Anderson said in the release.

The Texas Education Agency has said the takeover is triggered by a 2015 law that requires intervention when a single campus is not able to meet accountability standards for more than five years. It also cited an investigation into board members' conduct as justification for the takeover. The union lawsuit challenges these claims.


"Rather than being motivated by their asserted reasons forthe takeover, TEA and the Commissioner seek to disenfranchise the largely minority population of HISD and prevent it from being served by its elected school board members," the lawsuit reads.
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