So glad that Sen. Paul Bettencourt is stepping up on this.
Houston ISD Trustees Have Made a Mockery of the Texas Open Meetings Act With Multiple Violations
Sen. Bettencourt will file legislation to change HISD Board Structure as new Board of Governors seems inevitable
Houston – Texas Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) says daily published reports and workshop statements regarding the interim HISD superintendents replacement and then the board’s recent reversal strongly indicate that HISD trustees have repeatedly violated the Texas Open Meetings Act which governs the conduct of local government meetings. These open meetings statutes are top down guidelines for effective and transparent public meetings for the thousands of local governments in Texas and cannot be dismissed by any governing body.
“The simple fact that 5 trustees spoke to and hired a replacement interim Superintendent on Thursday, and then apparently confirmed that fact at a board workshop on Sunday, indicates that this is the first major violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act,” said Senator Bettencourt. “The second clearly occurred yesterday when, without a posted meeting, the entire HISD board apparently announced the reversal of the last appointment and reappointed the previous interim superintendent. These superintendents are not the problem, the HISD Board of Trustees is!”
Yesterday, HISD trustees gathered at a press conference to apologize for their behavior over the last 10 months but took no questions afterwards leaving other non-HISD officials to answer questions directed at trustees.
“Again, instead of waiting for a posted HISD board meeting later this week to announce their decision to retain the former interim Superintendent, they clearly must have made that decision by yesterday. These actions by the HISD board of Trustees have sadly made a mockery of the Texas Open Meetings Act, period,” added Senator Bettencourt.
Senator Bettencourt started working on legislation to change the composition of the HISD Board of Trustees after an earlier board meeting this summer that turned raucous as well, with multiple citizens being removed from the meeting. The draft legislation will bring at-large trustee representatives into the board mixture replacing an equal number of district trustees in a hybrid form of governance.
“I became alarmed at the state of the HISD board as far back as discussions in Austin that Kashmere HS has been on the State’s Improvements Required (IR) list for nine years, in addition to the waiver that was granted by TEA for Hurricane Harvey this year. The board’s decision to fire their internal auditor was also a red flag in the face of good government. Finally, the latest HISD board meeting last week where racial epitaphs were hurled by board factions at each other, tells not only me but the public, that the time will come for a new Board of Governors, selected by the TEA Commissioner, to inevitably replace the existing board of trustees,” concluded Senator Bettencourt.
Senator Bettencourt serves on the Senate Education and Higher Education Committees and is a member of the State of Texas Commission on Public School Finance. He also represents a portion of HISD in SD7 and has previously stated his intention to file an HISD government reform bill later this year.
It would be awesome if they restructured that joke of a school district right out of existence.
In the meantime, I’d suggest that the board members take this training course on the Texas Open Meetings Act provided by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. I’ve repeated the course annually since being elected to city council and now mayor. Believe me, the penalties aren’t worth whatever gain the board members thought they were getting.
Thanks for reporting this. I haven’t seen it anywhere else. Your Honor.
Ed Hubbard says
It is amazing to me that no one holds HISD accountable. For example, a generation of children have been significantly under-educated at Kashmere and its feeder schools, and yet the leaders of that community don’t seem to care. Under-education leads to a cycle of under- and unemployment, impoverished families, and poorly funded communities. When will someone be ashamed enough to demand this cycle stop?
I applaud Paul for stepping up and unveiling this behavior. But where are the local leaders? Appalling! Unfortunately, our state leaders refused to pull the trigger and take over HISD by granting the unwarranted waiver. Now, another year and another class of students will lose their opportunity to have an education. This must stop!
HISD is doing what Atlanta’s school system did. Grooming as many dependents as they can.
I wish to remain anonymous says
Texas Open Meetings Act- TOMA is very near and dear to me. Its amazing how many boards ignore it knowing that it is very difficult to enforce then when caught they simply say ooops. I dont know what this board is mandated to do by law however many are mandated to take the course when they get elected.
I wish to remain anonymous says
Perhaps the legislature can put some real teeth into the law. At present the language isn’t clear enough for judges to automatically reverse and void deals that are found to be in violation of TOMA. It has been a very expensive venture righting the wrongs of back room deals (sitting directors obtaining valuable corporate assets without the sale being placed on an agenda) in this neck of the woods.
Robert Stevenson, CPA says
The conduct of the HISD board is unethical at best and criminal at worst. They have all had the required board training detailing the Texas Open Meetings Act. It is required when you are first elected to a school board in Texas. They also have a history of self dealing and kickbacks from large vendors. After having your children educated in HISD it is amazing that the voters don’t hold the trustees and the administration accountable. This follows a pattern throughout school district leadership, they will expect the federal government to take care of them. I appreciate Paul for speaking up for the parents who want more for their children.