Houston ISD teachers’ union granted temporary restraining order in lawsuit over new performance evaluation criteria

The lawsuit, filed against state-appointed superintendent Mike Miles and the HISD board of managers, claims district and campus stakeholders were not properly consulted before a new teacher evaluation system was adopted. A judge’s ruling Thursday means the new criteria cannot be implemented at least until the next court hearing on Sept. 11.


Houston Federation of Teachers building on Sutherland St. Taken on March 9, 2020.

The Houston Federation of Teachers was granted a temporary restraining order Thursday in its lawsuit against Houston ISD leadership, blocking the district from implementing a new educator evaluation system for at least the next 11 days.

The teachers' union, which represents about 6,000 employees in the state's largest school district, filed its lawsuit Wednesday in a Harris County district court. It claims new HISD superintendent Mike Miles and the district's state-appointed board of managers violated the Texas Education Code when they developed and approved Policy DNA, a new evaluation system that will be used to determine teachers' employment status and compensation.

The union alleges the new evaluation criteria were created without prior input from districtwide and campus-level decision-making committees. State law requires school districts to solicit input from those committees when creating a system to appraise teachers' performance, or to use standards developed by the Texas Education Commissioner.

A judge granted the Houston Federation of Teachers' request for a temporary restraining order Thursday and scheduled a temporary injunction hearing for Sept. 11, when both sides will present evidence and expand on the arguments they made during Thursday's hearing.

Jackie Anderson, the president of the teachers' union, did not immediately respond to a voicemail Thursday seeking comment. Defense attorneys for Miles and the board of managers also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jackie Anderson, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, in the Houston Matters studio on Friday, Sept. 1.

MORE: Jackie Anderson discusses the suit on Houston Matters


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In a statement released to Houston Public Media on Thursday morning, before the temporary restraining order was issued, the HISD press office said the school district "cannot comment on a pending legal matter."

The superintendent and the school board remain focused on the critical work of ensuring HISD prepares all its students for the world and workplace of Destination 2035 and allow the legal process to run its course."

Defense attorneys for HISD, in a Thursday court filing in response to the lawsuit, said the new teacher evaluation criteria were posted on the district's website in July, along with a note saying Miles was requesting feedback from each campus' decision-making committee. The attorneys claim that satisfied the district's requirement to solicit input before the evaluation system was approved by the board in early August.

Attorneys for the district also said the details of the new evaluation system were included in the publicly available board agenda packet for the Aug. 8 meeting where the performance criteria were adopted. The teachers' union claimed in its lawsuit that HISD teachers have not been provided with specifics on how they will be evaluated and which metrics will be used.

Miles was appointed June 1 by Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, who also replaced HISD's nine elected trustees with a state-appointed board of managers. The state intervened because of mismanagement and alleged illegal activity by previous board members and also because Wheatley High School had a string of failing academic ratings from the state.

HISD, the largest school district in Texas, started the new school year Monday.

Adam Zuvanich

Adam Zuvanich

Digital Content Producer

Adam Zuvanich writes locally relevant digital news stories for Houston Public Media. He grew up in the Houston area and earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas before working as a sportswriter in Austin, Lubbock, Odessa, St. Louis and San Antonio. Zuvanich returned home to Houston and made...

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