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Vice President Pence Visits Houston, HISD Board Renews Controversial Charter School Contracts, Forecast Predicts Heavy Rainfall In Texas This Weekend, And More

These are some of the stories Houston Public Media is covering.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Top afternoon stories:

Vice President Pence greets Houstonians after landing at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Vice President Pence Visits Houston

Vice President Mike Pence visited Texas on Friday. Pence met with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Houston during a meeting that Senator Ted Cruz also attended.

After that, he went to Rice University’s Baker Institute to deliver remarks about the political turmoil and economic crisis in Venezuela.

Houston is home to a large Venezuelan immigrant community, as well as the corporate headquarters of CITGO, a U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. Pence has called for the release of six of the company’s executives who are jailed in Venezuela.

Pence’s schedule also included a discussion about the vice presidency at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station. He’ll be joined by former vice presidents Dick Cheney and Dan Quayle.

Several dozen parents and students celebrated when the HISD board decided to renew the contracts with their charter schools.
Several dozen parents and students celebrated when the HISD board decided to renew the contracts with their charter schools.

HISD Board Renews Controversial Charter School Contracts

Several controversial charter schools will continue to operate through the Houston Independent School District, as the board narrowly renewed their contracts Thursday night despite some questionable financial dealings.

Three of those charters — Energized for Excellence, Energized for STEM and Inspired for Excellence Academy, Inc. — received extra scrutiny because of their finances. Trustees questioned why some of them had loaned the founder Lois Bullock’s for-profit company millions of dollars and paid excessive salaries to leadership.

“The liabilities exceed the assets of this organization by a couple million dollars, and the auditor says there’s a going concern,” said Trustee Anne Sung, questioning the financials of Inspired for Excellence Academy.

Still, the Houston school board renewed the contracts with the caveat that the administration strengthen the financial and academic standards, though it’s not clear if that will bar conflicts of interest. The charter schools are considered “in-district” charters, meaning that HISD has authority over them, not the Texas Education Agency.

Several trustees expressed concerns about what would happen to the students enrolled in the schools.

Forecast Predicts Heavy Rainfall In Texas This Weekend

The National Weather Service is predicting heavy rainfall in Texas this weekend. Rainfall totals in the Houston area are expected to be in the one to two inch range, but they could get slightly higher.

NWS meteorologist Scott Overpeck said two storm systems are expected to move through the state, possibly stretching between Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas.

Additionally, long periods of heavy rain could cause street flooding.

This illustration provides a 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle that is studded with glycoprotein tubercles.
This illustration provides a 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle that is studded with glycoprotein tubercles.

Measles Case Confirmed In Dallas County

Dallas County Health and Human Services reported Thursday its first case of measles, bringing the total number of measles cases in Texas to 15. In 2018, there were nine confirmed cases in the state.

The Dallas County resident had been exposed to another confirmed measles case from Tarrant County at their mutual workplace in March. It’s the first confirmed measles case in a Dallas County resident since 2017.

Harris County has had the most measles cases in the state, with four reported by health officials.

Here is a breakdown of the measles cases by county, as reported by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS):

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