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Final Hearing On Harris County Bail Settlement, Bus Service To HISD’s Alternative High School Cancelled, And Decline In Oil And Gas Jobs

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

Monday, October 28, 2019

Top afternoon stories:

Interior of Harris County’s Criminal Court at Law 13, inside the county’s Criminal Justice Center located in downtown Houston.

Final Hearing On Harris County Bail Settlement

U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal held Monday a final hearing on the settlement of the lawsuit over Harris County’s bail system.

Rosenthal, who has already given the agreement preliminary approval, listened to final arguments for and against the settlement.

Under the agreement, nearly all misdemeanor defendants would be released on personal recognizance bonds that require no money be paid, usually within a few hours after being taken into custody.

But people facing certain types of misdemeanors, including domestic violence and a second or subsequent driving while intoxicated charge, wouldn’t be automatically released and would have to appear before a magistrate judge.

A staffer with Rosenthal’s court told News 88.7 she will make a final ruling at a later date, but didn’t specify when the decision could be announced.

A Houston ISD CE300 school bus
A Houston ISD school bus.

Advocates Worry About Canceled Bus Service To HISD’s Alternative High School

The Houston Independent School District has cut off bus service for high schoolers assigned to an alternative campus in Greater Fifth Ward and advocates are worried their risk of dropping out is even higher.

HISD students are sent to the Secondary Disciplinary Alternative Education Program, or DAEP, school if they get in trouble at their neighborhood schools.

“If they’re not able to get there, they’re even more likely to drop out and have very negative school and then life outcomes, so it was very concerning,” said Sarah Beebe, an attorney with Disability Rights Texas.

Beebe has written a letter to HISD’s Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan asking the district to either restore the bus service or let the high school students return to their regular school.

Houston Public Media has reached out to HISD for comment.

An oil pumpjack.

Decline In Local Oil And Gas Jobs

The outlook for Houston’s oil and gas sector is increasingly grim. The industry is on track to finish out the year shedding almost all the jobs it’s added since the start of 2019, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

Local employment in oil and gas appears to have hit the high point of its current cycle in June. Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research at the Greater Houston Partnership, said he expects things to get worse over the next year.

Jankowski said the long-term outlook isn’t much brighter. “We have most likely seen peak employment for the oil and gas industry,” he said. “That occurred in 2014, and we will probably never get back up to those levels of employment in the industry.”

The region’s oil and gas employment hit an all-time high of roughly 300,000 people at the end of 2014. The downturn that followed lasted into 2016.

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