Multiple Houston ISD schools facing heater issues due to frigid temperatures

An HISD spokesperson didn’t confirm the exact number of HISD schools affected by malfunctioning heaters, but emphasized that “a vast majority” of the district’s 274 schools haven’t had issues with campus heaters. 

Houston ISD Headquarters
Florian Martin / Houston Public Media
Pictured is Houston ISD’s Hattie Mae White Administration Building.

Three Houston ISD schools dismissed students early on Wednesday after an unconfirmed number of campuses faced heater issues due to frigid temperatures.

Henry Middle School began early dismissal at 12:30 p.m. while both Love Elementary and Port Houston Elementary were set to begin early dismissal at around 1:00 p.m., according to HISD spokesperson Leila Walsh. Additionally, temperatures at Bell Elementary were hovering around 55 to 60 degrees, according to Walsh, who said the district would allow parents the choice to pick up their children early.

Specifically at Henry Middle School, Walsh said that the campus’ heater and electrical system was malfunctioning, and that a pipe burst on the second floor in the seventh and eighth-grade wing of the campus.

“HISD is responding as quickly as possible when we learn of any issues,” Walsh said. “If the heat goes out…we’re responding as quickly as possible by bringing in those portable heaters by taking those steps. If a pipe bursts, [we’re] cleaning up that water as quickly as possible, moving students and staff to another part of the campus.”

RELATED: Mike Miles says he should have ignored ‘whining,' kept Houston ISD schools open amid winter weather

This comes after HISD opened back up on Wednesday after temperatures plummeted throughout the Houston area for several days, with below-freezing temperatures causing icy roads and hundreds of accidents across the region. In a social media post on Tuesday, the district ensured that “the heat is on” and that schools would open at the usual time.

Even with the extreme cold, HISD superintendent Mike Miles told an advisory committee on Tuesday night that he believed schools should have stayed open and that he “won’t make the same mistake again.”

“Despite the noise, despite the whining, despite the people who are exaggerating, saying, you know, ‘We're gonna cost people's lives’ — I gotta ignore that and think about the kids and our core function,” Miles said in a recording posted on social media and verified by Houston Public Media.

During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Miles doubled down and likened the closing of schools to the absence of an essential service to the community.

“When it is safe to traverse the roads with some care, like driving slowly, then we should be at school,” Miles said. “If we make a decision as a district to stay open, teachers will be expected to be at work. Drive slowly; leave early.”

According to the Houston Police Department, there had been at least 580 crashes within city limits from midnight to 8 a.m. on Tuesday. Of those, more than 100 were ice-related. The total number of crashes throughout the entirety of the arctic blast has yet to be determined.

The total number of HISD schools affected by malfunctioning heaters hasn’t been confirmed by the district, but HISD spokesperson Leila Walsh emphasized that “a vast majority” of the district’s 274 schools haven’t had issues with campus heaters.

Joy Mackey, a parent of a first grader at Baker Montessori, said the school was among several that reportedly faced heating issues on Wednesday.

“I don’t think it’s safe for the kids,” Mackey said. “If you know the classrooms are going to be cold, it doesn’t make sense to open up the schools to have the kids suffer in a cold classroom.”