Education News

Houston-area school trustee defends remarks about black teachers and dropout rates

In defending his own district, Trustee Scott Henry appeared to link a higher percentage of Black teachers at Houston ISD to that district’s dropout rate.

Cy-Fair ISD Trustee Scott Henry at a recent board meeting, during which he appeared to link a higher percentage of Black teachers with higher dropout rates.

A Cy-Fair ISD trustee defended remarks he made about black teachers in HISD, saying at a Thursday night board meeting that his comments were taken out of context.

A video of Trustee Scott Henry went viral after he made remarks at a recent school board meeting that appeared to link the number of black teachers in Houston ISD to the district’s dropout rate.

“Houston ISD, which I'll use to shine an example, you know what their average percentage of Black teachers is?” Henry is shown asking on video. “Thirty-six percent. I looked that up. You know what their dropout rate is? 4%. I don't want to be 4%. I don't want to be HISD.”

The trustee made the comments while responding to a recent report outlining inequitable treatment between white students and students of color.

Henry later released a statement apologizing for the remarks, but at Thursday’s meeting, also defended them.

“Let me be very clear: Any suggestion that I said more Black teachers leads to worst student outcomes is a lie and those spreading it should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.

This is Henry's first stint in political office. He beat an incumbent board member by running on the promise of eliminating “critical race theory” in schools, although the field of study was not taught in Cy-Fair schools. Campaigns against books and subjects that address race have led to dozens of Black authors being removed from bookshelves.

Henry said at Thursday’s meeting that the backlash to his comments has led to death threats against his family.

“There have been threats upon my life,” he said. “My wife and my children have all been targeted. I will take that responsibility for not saying the words so eloquently, but I feel very passionately about our kiddos in Cy-Fair and providing an equitable education to all.”

Local leaders have called for Henry’s resignation, including Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

Hidalgo, a former Cy-Fair student herself, joined the Houston branch of the NAACP on Thursday to condemn the trustee’s remarks.

Houston Public Media’s Cory McGinnis contributed to this report.

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