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Education News

Houston ISD Back To Drawing Board For High-Stakes Turnaround Plan

If the new draft is not approved, the Texas Education Commissioner could enforce tough sanctions, such as appointing a board of managers for the whole district or closing Kashmere High

Students on a youth council and members of a community board helped create the new Kashmere Success Center on campus. The marching band celebrated the opening this week.
Laura Isensee/Houston Public Media
Kashmere High School narrowly missed meeting state standard’s in 2017 and has appealed its current “improvement required” rating.

The Houston Independent School District has to revise its turnaround plan for its longest struggling school for the second time, as pressure of a potential state takeover mounts.

The district had previously submitted the plan for Kashmere High School in June and again in October.

Both times, the Texas Education Commissioner informed HISD that it was missing key details. Most recently, Commissioner Mike Morath wrote it lacked budget information and written input from community members.

Morath is giving HISD until Friday to submit a modified plan, which he will review within 15 days. If it’s not approved, he could enforce tough sanctions, such as appointing a board of managers for the whole district, or closing down the campus.

“It is my sincere desire that all parties work together in a cooperative and productive manner with a focus on assisting the students,” Morath wrote in the Nov. 6 letter.

It’s the latest development in a high-stakes school year for HISD. Under the state law known as House Bill 1842, HISD must improve all of its chronically failing schools or face these new, stricter consequences next school year. Kashmere High leads the list of those struggling schools in HISD and statewide. It’s failed state standards for eight years in a row, though it came very close to passing in 2017. The district is appealing that most recent “improvement required” rating.

“We are so close, growth counts. But with IR, it doesn’t count because we’re still in this sinkhole,” Kashmere’s principal Nancy Blackwell told the HISD board in October.

At that meeting, the board approved the turnaround plan for Kashmere High and over a dozen other schools, without posting the detailed plans to the public agenda.

When asked about the latest revision required by state officials, HISD declined to discuss it.

“The Commissioner of Education notified HISD of his decision not to approve the campus turnaround plan for Kashmere High School and offered the district the opportunity to present a modified plan,” said Tracy Clemons, HISD’s spokesman, in a statement. “The district plans to submit that modified plan, which we believe addresses the reasons given for the Commissioner's decision and provides the greatest opportunity for Kashmere High School to successfully meet state standards.”

Board President Wanda Adams said that she’s confident HISD will submit all the needed documents.

“These are some of the i’s and t’s that we did not cross,” Adams said in an interview. “We want Kashmere to be successful, because we are so confident that next year Kashmere will get off of IR because they have moved the needle so high.”

Read the Commissioner’s letter here: Houston-ISD-Kashmere-11-06-17.

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