Education News

State Denies HISD’s Appeal Of Wheatley’s ‘F’ Rating, Raising Chance Of State Takeover

“Consequently, the rating for Wheatley High School cannot be changed, and your appeal is denied.”

Wheatley High School has failed to meet state standards for seven consecutive times.

The Texas Education Commissioner has denied a last-ditch, bare-bones appeal of Wheatley High School’s failing grade, increasing the likelihood of a state takeover of the Houston Independent School District.

In a Nov. 5 letter to the interim superintendent, Commissioner Mike Morath said that the basis of the district’s appeal — for example, that the 2019 graduation rates and college and career readiness rates are lagging indicators and include students affected by Hurricane Harvey —  would require changing the state’s method for calculating grades.

“Please be aware that in order to preserve its intent and integrity, the accountability system, as prescribed each year in the accountability manual, must be applied to all districts consistently,” Morath wrote. “Consequently, the rating for Wheatley High School cannot be changed, and your appeal is denied.”

The failing grade for Wheatley High — a historically black school in Fifth Ward where U.S Reps. Barbara Jordan and Mickey Leland studied — triggers tough sanctions under the state law known as HB 1842. It means the state’s education chief must either remove the entire elected school board or close the campus after this school year, in the summer of 2020.

However, any enforcement of that law will still take time. State rules include a formal review with the school district before the commissioner issues his final decision on sanctions.

The academic struggles at Wheatley High are one of two reasons behind an expected takeover of the state’s largest school district.

Separately, TEA investigators have recommended the commissioner oust the nine members of the HISD board and replace them with an appointed board of managers, after they finished a probe into several allegations of multiple trustees violating state law and board rules. The special investigators concluded the allegations are accurate and signal deep governmental dysfunction.

Read the full letter from Morath:

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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