HOUSTON (AP) — Texas officials on Wednesday announced a state takeover of Houston’s nearly 200,000-student public school district, the eighth-largest in the country, acting on years of threats and angering Democrats who assailed the move as political.
The announcement, made by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s education commissioner, Mike Morath, amounts to one of the largest school takeovers ever in the U.S. It also deepens a high-stakes rift between Texas’ largest city, where Democrats wield control, and state Republican leaders, who have sought increased authority following election fumbles and COVID-19 restrictions.
In a letter to the Houston Independent School District, Morath said the Texas Education Agency will replace Superintendent Millard House II and the district’s elected board of trustees with a new superintendent and an appointed board of managers made of residents from within the district’s boundaries.
Morath said the board has failed to improve student outcomes while conducting “chaotic board meetings marred by infighting” and violating open meetings act and procurement laws. He accused the district of failing to provide proper special education services and of violating state and federal laws with its approach to supporting students with disabilities.