Trustees postpone decision on Houston ISD Student Congress

The Houston ISD board of trustees voted 8-1 to postpone a decision to cut ties with the student congress. (Screenshot via HISD TV)
The Houston ISD board of trustees voted 8-1 to postpone a decision to cut ties with the student congress. (Screenshot via HISD TV)

The Houston ISD board of trustees voted 8-1 to postpone a decision to cut ties with the student congress. (Screenshot via HISD TV)

Houston ISD trustees voted Feb. 11 to postpone a decision on whether to cut ties with the student congress, a body it helped establish in 2014, asking the district to seek additional solutions to repair the strained organization and ensure adequate representation of student voices.

"Our students weren’t given the opportunity to succeed. ... We can’t give up on our students," trustee Elizabeth Santos said.

In the vote to postpone, trustees asked for the item to return for a vote no later than the August board meeting.

Administrators said they have been unable to develop a working relationship with the student congress, which has experienced an internal struggle over its own leadership and direction, prompting its founders, Amy Fan and Zaakir Tameez, to become more involved last year. Their involvement, however, also spurred further division among its membership and posed problems for HISD administration.

"Amy and Zaakir did amazing things at HISD," said David Dzul, a Debakey High School student. "But the same organization they created doesn't exist today. There's no structure. We never asked for their help."

At public comment during the Feb. 11 meeting, Dzul said it was "terrifying and unacceptable" that the founders, now college graduates, could intervene in a student organization. Student congress has a designated administration liaison but not a formal adviser.

HISD proposed cutting ties with the group, allowing it to exist but without formal recognition by the board, and creating a student advisory council with district-supervised elections, transportation and support to encourage participation and equity.

"This item does not silence student voices; it actually elevates," interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said.

Trustees were not convinced, however, that cutting ties was the right approach.

"I find in our existing regulations ... the foundations to help our existing student groups succeed," trustee Anne Sung said. "Given the passion and the leadership of the student congress members that came and spoke today, I’d really like to see us try to support them."
By Matt Dulin
Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018 and is the City Editor for Houston's Inner Loop editions.


Artists with Ink Dwell Studio created the mural, which depicts birds that migrate seasonally to the Houston area. (Courtesy Anthony Rathbun/Houston Parks Board)
Photos: New mural 'Confluence' celebrates Houston's bayous, birds

"It is so important to use art to lift everyone’s spirits and look at the world in a different way,” Houston Parks Board's Beth White said.

Costco Business Centers, of which there are only about 15 in the country, carry different products and provide a different shopping experience to members than do traditional Costco Wholesale stores. (Courtesy Costco Wholesale)
Costco Business Center being built in Stafford; see live music in The Woodlands and more top Houston-area news

Read the top business and community news from the Houston area from the past week.

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.

Clutch City Coffee opened in March at 4733 Richmond Ave., Houston. (Courtesy Clutch City Coffee)
Locally owned Clutch City Coffee opens near Galleria area

It exclusively serves Houston-roasted coffee and locally made breakfast tacos and pastries.

Houston’s Galleria will add several new high-end luxury brands. (Courtesy Simon)
The Galleria announces new restaurant, luxury brand additions

Moncler, the French-Italian apparel manufacturer and lifestyle brand, will be bringing its well-known jackets and sportswear for the first time in Houston.

Houston City Council approved ordinances expanding and funding Houston’s BCycle program on April 14. (Courtesy Houston BCycle)
Houston City Council OKs expansion of BCycle sites

City Council approved the addition of 11 new BCycle kiosk bike stations.

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.

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.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said power outages are not expected April 13, while requesting energy conservation. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATE: ERCOT call for energy conservation ends April 13 without need for power outages

An ERCOT official said "tight" supply and demand conditions arose on the state's electric grid April 13 due to forecasting issues amid planned, seasonal maintenance outages by some power generators.

Spearheaded by state Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, the new court, if established, would expand the capacity of the county's criminal court system in hopes of reducing its backlog, which stood at 70,951 total cases pending before criminal district courts in Harris County as of April 8. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harris County supports creation of new criminal district court to tackle case backlog

If the efforts are successful, this would be Harris County's first new criminal district court since 1984 when the 351st District Court was created.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
State, federal health authorities recommend pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 6 rare, severe blood clots

Hub providers in Dallas, Harris and Travis counties have all announced they will follow the recommendations and pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.